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February 17th 2002 (email)

Hits 2260 | Created 2002-02-17 | Modified 2007-08-02

A group email sent on 17th February 2002: Caro had a cosmic dual fountain affair in Sanchi recently for a few days...

Agra Circular

I've got a cold, can you believe it? We're in Agra, a city I avoided on my last trip here because then I was doing the 'real India' and scorned world class famous wonders of the world in favour of beach bars in Goa. We've managed to avoid city life and tourists for the most part so far by staying in small, insy-weensy places that haven't got Burger King or internet yet. All they offer is rock bottom arse watering thalis and peace and quiet. Caro had a cosmic dual fountain affair in Sanchi recently for a few days (two spouts, one spouting towards heaven, and the other towards earth..) but other than this we've been pretty healthy so far.

Did the Taj yesterday, up at 5:30am so as to have the place to ourselves (along with all the tour groups) at dawn. Obviously a pretty good sight. The inner sanctum was somewhat gloomy and smelly (hundreds of unwashed feet) and full of yodelling Indians demonstrating the acoustic qualities of the dome above (none of that whispering that goes on at St Pauls...)

Agra is a town in decline as the price of Taj tickets is now $15 US, so the myriad of hotels, restaurants and shops that have sprung up to feed on the backpacker trade over the last decade or two are dying as the average backpacker now avoids the place due to sniffiness over cost, or simply stays for one day. The result is depressed and desperate restaurant owners running out of their premises and practically dragging you to their rooftop garden - just look, no need to buy anything, pleeease. We've spent our time playing backgammon and drinking chai with philisophical silver shop owners contemplating a change of trade. Anyway, we're trapped here for the moment due to an unexpected 10 day festival that occurs tomorrow.

Things here haven't changed much since my last visit seven years ago, the major change seems to be the conquest of the plastic cups and internet. I'm vaguely aware that the last time that I was here, I learned the Hindi for 'cheap', 'peace' and 'go away!'. This time I bothered to learn 'thanks' and 'please'. Progress indeed.

I'll leave you with the headlines of the Hindu- stan times and Times of India - Girl 16 beheaded by terrorists; Man ears and nose cut off and then killed by terrorists; Plague breaks out in the North; and TGI Fridays are now big in India and are running promotions this week.

If anyone is in India in the next few months, or in Thailand or surrounding area in May to July ish, then drop us a line and maybe we can meet up.

Oh, after reading some old emails, if anyone hasn't yet got Kate's mystery location, then I think it was Havelock island, so, now the cat is out of the bag, you'd better get over there sharpish before TGI Friday beat you to it and bugger it all up!

Boomshankarshantibabafullmoonboom and all that nonsense!

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