thesticks

19th -20th August 1981 Getting there


Departed London Heathrow for Schiphol. This was my first ever flight and I was setting off for India. Destination Delhi, but no plans thereafter.

From Schiphol first stop Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 34 degrees C. Very humid, droplets condensed on my skin as I walked down the aeroplane steps. Luxurious airport, lit by chandeliers - down the runway - wow. 10:30 local time. Airport cool, everything expensive. Forty five minute stay. Didn't buy anything. Caught a glimpse into 1st class lounge. Fleeting wish to be rich.

Passengers for next leg of flight quite different. Fewer white European faces. More Arabs and Asians. Flight destined for Manilla, with a stop in Karachi and then my stop, Delhi.

21st August: Agra

Still tired when time to leave comfort of Golf Links. Jane brought me toast and marmalade for breakfast. Set off at 6:30 and miraculously - no auto rickshaws so took a taxi. Rs12/- not bad and a lot cheaper than the rip off trip there from Connaught Place the first morning I arrived.

The station was crowded but I found a seat (wooden with no cushions but not too uncomfortable) on the train which was far less crowded than I expected. I had had visions of people sitting on the roof and hanging out of the windows - but that would come later - this was the express to Agra. Journey time three hours.

21st August

The rickshaw now took me across the River Jumna, it was a slow, stop start crawl across the narrow bridge. Axles of oxen cart, traveling in opposite directions became entangled, bringing the already slow traffic, to a noisy, hooting and tooting halt, while the carters pulled, mauled and man handled them free.

Belatedly realising the historical significance of where I had been I looked up a few facts.

Akbar was the third emperor of the Mughal dynasty. He was only 14 years old when he was crowned in 1556. He started to build the mausoleum at Sikandra before his death (1605), but did not finish it. It was completed by his son Jahangir.

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