thesticks

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.

 

Traffic on bridge over River JumnaTraffic on bridge over River Jumna

Crowded Bridge over Jumna

 Oxen traffic on bridge

 

 We cycled along the river, the great red walls of the Agra Fort to my right,

Walls of the Red Fort

Walls of the Red Fort


and then across a bend in the river I saw the Taj Mahal. He was taking me there at last.

Taj across the river

Taj Mahal across the river

But no. He stopped for me to explore the Red Fort but I didn't go inside.

Spent Rs 8/- on a bottle of chilled water - but despite the price it was delicious, straight out of the ice (literally) box - and asked again to be taken to the Taj, but he said that morning was a better time to see it. At least I think he did. Nevertheless we set off - but once again not to the Taj Mahal.

The Rickshaw driver said it was his duty to take me to the marble factory, the jewelers and the silk sari shop. I went - there was nothing I could do to prevent it.

We headed away from what I though was the centre of Agra and once again I was lost. At the first shop the attentions of the shop keeper and the earnestness of the rickshaw man made it impossible for me to leave empty handed. I bought two marble trinket boxes for £2 that I didn't really want or even, at the time, like.

I felt vulnerable and at the mercy of the two men. No one knew where I was and I wasn't where I wanted to be. I resented feeling pressured and out of control. Over the years I grew to appreciate the little boxes, they were well made and I have to admit very cheap, and I was upset when one of my children broke one.

I was taken to a few more shops but refused to buy anything else. The rickshaw man was frustrated and moaned, he kept pointing at my purse and then at the goods on sale and saying "Big Pocket", but I wouldn't buy anything. I didn't know how much money I needed for the rest of the holiday and I was on a very tight budget. I was scared of overspending.

This was only my first full day. Eventually, tired of each other, the rickshaw man took me back to the tourist bungalow somewhere near to Agra Cantt station. I bought a pineapple and some oranges for tea and then, after writing up my diary, I went to bed. It goes dark very fast and early. I slept reasonably well.