100 Days in India Project

Two tired dogs sleeping on a trailer in India. Exhausted, but in Agra

42/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 7 – Exhausted, but in Agra

After hours and hours of travel aboard the Marudhar Express train we were tantalisingly close to Agra. I had been tracking our progress on Google maps the whole way which was fascinating and depressing in equal measure. The accuracy of our location was made worse by the jittery 3G signal which often made the icon land on a town further ahead along the line, giving a moment of elation before finally settling next to a place we departed 2 hours ago.

Our speeds were barely more than that of a bicycle. In fact, the 19 hours actually spent moving (well, apparently moving) equated to an average speed of around 22 mph. Definitely not express. We spent so long in some stations that we could get off and stretch our legs for a few minutes before the whistle would blow and we would all jump back on again.

Our only entertainment, other than sketching all the train guards, was courtesy of a young Portuguese couple, visiting India to buy cheap jewellery to sell again in craft fairs back home. One of them performed magic tricks for the train guards who were absolutely mesmerised by his sleight of hand.  Once word of the Portuguese magician spread through the carriage it was amazing to watch a large group of passengers gather around him, utterly transfixed by his tricks. They begged him to repeat them over and over again as though they were trying to figure out how he could move the matchstick from the palm of his had to his mouth.

Me, I just wanted to get off. I am not the world’s most patient person on the best of days but this was pushing my limits to their breaking point. I seriously considered jumping off at the next station and hiring a taxi.

The train trip should have taken 13 hours but, in total, we spent 27 hours on the journey with 19 hours of that on the train with nothing but a bottle of water and more bananas and puffy snacks than we could ever eat in a lifetime (turns out they were very cheap so the guy who shopped for us managed to buy a staggering quantity with our Rupees).

After arriving at 2130 in Agra we bumped into Gaffar, who was to be our taxi driver and guide for the rest of the week, and were whisked to our fancy hotel with a bedroom the size of an entire house, a four poster bed and a bathtub. Most exciting of all was the fact that it had a toilet that wasn’t just a stainless steel hole in the floor that would give you salmonella if you even opened the door. One night in this hotel cost around 3 times the price of our two train tickets but laying on the fresh cotton sheets after a warm shower was worth all the money in the world.

Intended Arrival Time : 0630
Actual Arrival Time : 2130
Current delay: 15 hours