Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 269: Rooftop Taj and Agra Fort

At the northern bus station in Delhi at Kashmere Gate, I was roused from my half-hearted and dreary sleep at 3:30 in the morning far earlier than I had expected. The metro would not open until 5:30 a.m. and since there was no way in hell I would be taking an auto rickshaw or taxi to my beloved hostel for my planned day off with likely hassles turning up at will I would have had no other choice but to sit/lay around with the many homeless and expectant passengers in the crazed dirty night. On the other hand, if I had so much time to kill and buses ran to Agra regularly at all hours of the night, why not kill my dream of A/C inhabitance and a full night’s sleep by reaching the city of the Taj one day earlier. 

Told to go over the bridge by rickshaw driver to get bus, didn’t trust him at first but what motive did he have to lie?
Looked around cluelessly trying to figure out the correct bus number that would get me to the southern bus station for the onward buses to Agra
Eventually one man asked if I needed help and damn did I with people either uninterested in my predicament or incapable of understanding the words coming out of my mouth
He said buses pass through to continue southward regularly so it would be only a matter of time before mine came
Sure enough it did after some time
He took care of this lost puppy dog leading me around the bus area to communicate with the bus drivers as everyone stood around trying to hail their own bus
Soon enough I was at the bus station and quickly found the next bus to Agra which had to take its own time to fill up. In the meantime I was damn, damn tired
The bus filled up like only Indians know how with one guy trying to communicate with me the whole time. Everyone had a laugh at my expense
Into Agra, got auto rickshaw on the cheap but regretfully listened to his choice of hotel before going to my own choice
Second hotel had rooms and I got myself an A/C since I frickin deserved it
I negotiated the price down to 700 rupees but it had its fair share of problems namely an non-flushable that moved me to another room and what I found was that they shut down the A/C when I would leave the room
Rooftop restaurant with stellar open view of Taj Mahal but I would save that for the second night
Visited Agra Fort by cycle rickshaw
Agra Fort was much better than the lame Red Fort in Delhi
Lit up in its deeply sun baked red sandstone
Great views of Taj Mahal far away on the edge of its point on the Yamuna River
Prison of the man who built the Taj Mahal after being overthrown by his son
Nice gardens
Beautiful without words carvings, intricately designed
Getting lost on my way back to Taj Ganj, the budget district at the southern gate of the Taj Mahal, got directed by some kids
Decided to only make Agra a one night, two day trip by booking onward travel for the following night
I was going back and forth with Lucknow since it sounded like a great Uttar Pradesh city with famous ancient recipe Mughal kebabs and other gastronomical favorites with some grand buildings and sights in its own right. I decided that I needed something different and if necessity or desire brought me back over there out of the way then so be it
So I booked two nights trains, one 3 tier A/C and one sleeper general class to get some variety, to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh just south of Uttar Pradesh state for its famous sex temples with their cut Karma Sutra designs emblazoned on its exterior and to Allahabad as a random off the beaten path visit with some possible worthwhile sights to keep me busy before continuing on to Varanasi, a place anyone with any familiarity with India knows about
The A/C was not working because of the random power outages and the inability of the backup generator to kickstart the cool nirvana I so desperately needed and most importantly paid for
They said it would turn on in a half hour or so but I explained in detail with lawyer-like intensity and good humor to level everything, I want some of my money back if the A/C doesn’t return to full force. It was a long decision because rupees aka money are high on the pecking order with Indians and you have to fight for every last buck. As long as you show that you are willing to go the distance and outlast through adaptability and striving they will see their match and opponent for the worthy adversary that they are. It may be an exhausting battle over mere chump change but you have to stand up for yourself.
As I was rolling around without any covers trying to find some chance for sleep, the almighty rumble kicked in and I was back in bliss
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