Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
149Trip End Ongoing
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About 30minutes later the kids returned with a middle aged woman who I took to be their mother, an older man and a collection of brothers, sisters and cousins. None of the assembled spoke any english, so I resurrected my mime skills to explain that I was harmless, alone and simply intending to sleep for one night. The first and last of these facts were easily understood, but the idea that I was alone seemed to cause a great deal of confusion. The mother kept holding up two fingers and pointing at me, and I would shake my head and hold up one finger while pointing at myself. This went on for a while, with different aural emphases, some of which seemed to be suggesting 'two' rather than asking- a prospect I didn't want to consider. What was on their mind was made explicit when two young men appeared a little later, one of whom spoke a little english, and asked outright:
-you are sex?
-erm. No. Sleeping.
The sun was setting by this point and Indian villagers don't much like being out in the wilds at night. After gently refusing the offer to move to the village, and assuring the young men that neither the monkeys, forest dwelling criminals nor tigers were likely to disturb me, I was finally left in peace.
An early morning and a long ride got me to Agra, 150km further on. I stayed two days, visiting the Taj Mahal on the first day, which looked very much like the photos. It is very impressive, there's no denying. A lot like a giant cake.
There's also a very fine fort
Between the fort and the Taj was a park, which somehow was kept clear of hawkers and beggars. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to walk from the Taj to the red fort in beatiful green surrounds with only parakeets disturbing the peace.