Saturday, 15 March 2008

On shanks's in KL.

4/3 - Henk dropped me at the LRT (train/underground) and I'm headed for KL city centre, I hope. I could have gone back into Cyberjaya, but that would have been too much like being back at work. I did consider it though, as I enjoyed myself so much yesterday.
I used to get KLCC (KL city centre) where the Petronas towers are, mixed up with the communications tower when I was here before. Don't ask me how, it was just set in my head that the comms tower was KLCC and guess what, I did it again. I reckoned the city centre was about 2 stops before KLCC, so went to get off there, luckily enough I was too slow getting passed the 3 people in front of me and missed the stop, so only got off one stop too early. Not all failed plans are bad. Except I didn't have a clue where I was when I got off. I could see the Petronas towers across what looked to be a motorway, but no way to get across the motorway. I was in a residential area, which was interesting anyway. I strolled in the way I hoped would get me out and passed a family sat outside having breakfast. I was hobbling a bit, so the lady asked what I'd done and we got talking, then I got an invite to breakfast, but graciously declined. I'll never know why. Oh I just worked it out. I'm an idiot.
I had planned to find an Internet cafe for a while, but there didn't look to be much hope around here. The leg was throbbing a bit, so I sat on a post and hit the water bottle. I didn't say it contained water. Time to move on, so I turned left and bumped into an Internet cafe, so much for no hope. It was a bit manic in there, me and 2 others, but they were on the games. It was like a war zone. Some dodgy house/rap/garage/non-grumpy old man music was competing with the guns and bombs, so I didn't hang about long.
I found the main road and thought I'd flag a taxi down and go to Times Square, the same as New York's, but completely different. I don't have to explain, because the taxi I flagged down refused to take me. Something to do with having to turn around I think. Other than that I haven't a clue.
So back to shanks's. It wasn't too far before I eventually ended up at the Petronas towers. They are pretty hard to miss, although it took me and our Val 2 days to find the Empire State building in New York. How has New York gotten 2 mentions and I'm not even in the same continent?
By the time I got there I had a bit of a dab on, so hit the shopping mall to let the air conditioning cool me off. I knew they had a purpose, these malls.
There's Prada, Gucci, Rolex, Coach, I don't know what I am doing in here. There are no prices on anything. I wonder if you have to barter, or is it because you shouldn't be looking if you have to think about the price. I didn't try bartering. Gucci dresses are not for me and I don't need a watch. Once I'd cooled off, I went out the back where the lake and fountains are for a sit on a step. I am getting good at that. A couple of ladies asked me about my leg. This could be a good pick up ploy. They were from Sabah and part of band working in Thailand. When one of the ladies, Hanni, found out I am divorced she quickly told me she is single too, but I told her I already had a date later. No lie, wait and see. The rest of the band joined us and they tried to get me to go to a performance, it was in the afternoon. It sounded a bit dodgy to me, so I declined using my date to put them off. Yes I have got a date, just wait. No trick either. With a very beautiful lady. My second in 2 days, after lunch with Leila yesterday.
I thought about making a move and broke into a sweat. The heat here wipes me out until I get used to it, but I do love Malaysia. I spotted some benches across the lake, so wandered across found an empty one and had a power nap. I suppose I could have passed for an old dosser if I hadn't been so young. I just woke up when a guard came along and told me to "sit down". I think he meant sit up, but I got the gist.
Sat opposite the towers now and I never get fed up of looking at them. They sparkle in the sunlight. Unfortunately it looks like a thunderstorm is on its way, but they still look terrific. They are KL's trademark, just as Sunderland has the Stadium of Light. Well sort of the same, OK nothing like it. Sitting here, just in passing, I have noticed the Chinese Malaysian ladies are the followers of fashion in KL, mini skirts, high heels, they get dolled up very nicely. If they are doing it for effect, it is working. The Malaysian ladies are in general very petite, although some of the Indian Malaysian ladies are quite tall, though still slim. Just thought I'd mention that.
The storm never materialised, perhaps just as well, I'd of gotten soaked sitting here following fashion. I'm heading for cover, just in case, and a bit of cake and a coffee. Surprised?
I am meeting up with Vilves, a very good, very beautiful lady friend from work. Alas she is engaged to a lucky bloke and I'm about 25 years too late. She is another of the international commentors on this world renowned blog.
We went for some Indian food and had a great evening. I even got a very nice present. Needless to say the thoughtless bloke didn't reciprocate. She is a smashing lass. I'm a lucky man having such good friends out here.
We said our goodbyes after another good day on my travels. I went out front to catch a taxi to Henk's. Guess what? These ones wouldn't take me either. I think the word is out, someone has put the mockers on me and taxis in KL. The first 3 wouldn't go to Taman Tun and the 4th wanted double the fare, so I headed for the train and Henk paid, he'd loaned me his train card.
These Malaysian taxi drivers are the most selective I've come across, so much for customer rights and I don't even look drunk.
I eventually made it back to Henk and Jinna's and was hailed from the balcony. "Get lost you English bum" I think it was. I was spoiled again. Jinna legged it out to get some snacks, mostly for herself I reckon and we had a few drinks. They are a good couple considerate and good fun.
I think Jinna's 2 favourite sayings are "No problem" because she never finds anything too much bother and "Are you a little bit hungry?". Because SHE something to eat.
That is definitely the end of another good day. Shower, pack and bed.
Thailand tomorrow.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Back to work.

3/3 - Jumped in the car with Henk, after being spoiled again by Jinna, with breakfast, she did my washing too, a very brave woman and we headed off to work, as it was for me, to meet some old colleagues and to pay for my diving trip to Sipadan. Have I mentioned that yet??? LATER !!
I thought I would spend an hour or 2 in Cyberjaya (CBJ) and head into KL to sort out the next leg of my trip, but Richard, the Diving Instructor, put me on the web in CBJ, so I have booked 10 days chill and perhaps a dive or 2 in Krabi, Thailand. Well I have booked the flights.
The one or 2 hours in CBJ turned into the rest of the day. I never realised I have so many friends in Malaysia and all welcoming me back. See you lot back home, I am a likable bloke. I was going for a brew to the kitchen, about 20 metres away, it took me 20 minutes to get there. Everyone spotting me and coming over for a chat. It was very heart warming. If I wasn't such a hard git, I may have shed a tear.
Leila, an old divng buddy, drove over during her lunch hour to have lunch with me. She is a smashing lass, her fiance is a lucky man and I haven't got a photo to show you. Some times I wonder about me.
I sat in the kitchen in CBJ to catch up with my log. I managed one line. A lad came in as said "You are like a consultant. Everytime I come in you are sat with someone else". I had a great day and most of it in the office. I did nothing but talk all day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I know I am a grumpy, old, IT, cowboy, but I never realised I was a lovable, grumpy, old, IT, cowboy, or perhaps it was disbelief that I am still at large.
Back to Henk and Jinna's with Henk and the lass has cooked some good food for us and gone shopping. So we eat, wander down to the pool for a few lazy lenghts, have a few beers and a natter. I don't know how Henk puts up with this.
Another good day at the office.

Life is good no matter where you are, India or KL.

2/3 - Dear Readers, the blogger is having a hectic life in the office, so don't sweat the lack of blogging. Life is a different scenario to India now.
"In what way?", I hear you ask. READ ON, if you have nothing else to put you to sleep.
Thank you all for reading and commenting. The blog has gone international now with Carol's friend, Val, in the good ole US of A. Infamy at last.
Anyway, back to Henk and Jinna's superpad, well actually down to the condo pool (see the photo from the balcony, the other is Jinna about to throw Henk over the balcony). Up with Henk and off we went for a few lengths of the pool, more Henk than me. No wonder Henk is still here after about 2 years, this is a canny life and even more so, when we are nattering by the side of the pool and Jinna hangs over the balcony and shouts down "Breakfast". I have died and gone to heaven. Well it certainly isn't India.
A bit of a break and spruce up, I put a clean shirt on, don't want to get too carried away and we are off to Kuala Lumpur for some dinner at Nando's, ceasar salad actually. This certainly isn't India. Jinna is only small, but she harbours a big appetite. We met up with Jinna's friend Rose. Do I detect a bit of attempted match making? We headed off to a disco at 3 p.m. ??? And it was rocking, just as if it was night time, everyone having a laugh and a good time and dancing, except the grumpy old man with the pitcher of beer.
I never realised during the time, but travelling in India is tiring and stressful. Being in a clean, modern city with everything at hand is like being in a different era. Mind you I would go back to India tomorrow. Perhaps it is the complete contrast that draws people there. Who knows? Not me.
Henk is driving, so we come out of the disco sober and in the light of day. You couldn't have convinced me I would enjoy a disco, especially one in the middle of the day, but enjoy it I did.
I had forgotten how hot and sticky it gets here. If I think about doing owt, I break into a sweat.
KL is ultra modern and at full pace. Henk and Jinna live just far enough out with all you need locally. I can definitely feel a draw back to here, all I have to do is find a sucker to employ an old IT cowboy.
We called at a Sunday market, near Henk's on the way back. It was tucked down a back street, loads of fruit, veg, clothes, fish, all sorts, an upmarket India. The fruit here is cheap and looks great. I would have taken photos but would have felt like a tourist. I forgot I am.
Jinna loaded up with everything they came for and probably a bit more. It is only open Sundays, so make hay.......
It started to rain, just as we got back to the car and built up into a spectacular thunderstorm. The fork lightening out here is something else. I watched it from Henk's balcony. The storm slowly passed and took the lovely warm rain with it and we headed out for an Italian. This is definitely not India. I'll try to get over the comparison thing soon, this is just a different world from the last 6 weeks.
I have had a smashing return to Malaysia today. I THANK YOU HENK AND JINNA.
P.S. It was a bit of match-making, the trouble is it takes 2 to tango and have you seen me dance? A nice compliment though.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

And that was India, well nearly.

1/3 - Up and packed and almost thought of relaxing until I remembered I have not left India yet. There is still time for more adventures. Went down to pay the bill and asked about a taxi. It had gone up Rs50 since last night, so it came down again, to a less inflated flight, whoops that should be price. I must be getting twitchy.
The journey to the airport showed some smashing housing in the suburbs, as well as the poor areas. It made Delhi seem more of a capital city. The taxi driver was after a tip all the way to the airport, so I told him how much I had paid the airport and smiled at the thought of them arguing over his share, but they probably had an agreement. He kept on, even when I told him I had no rupees left. You might have a little bit of dollars or a little bit of English money. Continuing to lie through my teeth, I told him I only had travellers cheques and a bar of chocolate, so he asked for the chocolate. I told him to get lost, it is my breakfast. Another lie. I have learned too late.
We made it and he got nowt.
I loaded up a trolley and the steward asked me for my ticket at the first entrance. "E-ticket"
"OK, go ahead".
The security guard wasn't up for it though. No piece of paper, no entry. I told you I had not left India yet. He pointed me to some offices and told me to go and get a ticket. Luckily the steward stopped me on the way back and asked what was wrong. I told him and he looked a bit embarrassed, asked around a few people then disappeared to a completely different building than the guard had indicated to find the Malaysia Airlines office.. He returned and led me off to the building. We got there and the stairs leading to the office, so I loaded up and dragged myself up the handrail to the office and voila a paper ticket.
I came early, just in case. I don't know why, what little faith.
I was still too early, so was not allowed into the baggage hall for another 15 minutes, so went and sat on my rucksack with a coffee and curry puff. Don't go there with the puff. I was joined by a smashing lass from London. She was travelling on her own. I told her she was brave, but there have been a lot of women travelling alone and it turns out she has only been alone in Delhi for 2 days and is off to meet her mate in Nepal. I think India would be a bad first place for a lady to travel alone. Once they have a bit of a handle on how to shoo the blokes, then I think it is OK, but I'll never know until one of you does a blog. We departed and I went to see the friendly security man, who smiled when he saw the paper.
Checked in painlessly and hit security, for a long hour, but acceptable for India, EASILY. I had a bit of fun in the queue, snapping at a potential queue jumper. The rest was painless too.
On the plane and sat next to a beautiful Malaysian lass, who is the National talking champion, but in a nice way.
So that was India. I am very chuffed that I came. I was unsure whether to come or not, but it is a great place. It is warm, historical, beautiful, welcoming and the good far out way the niggles of the touts. I am not sure where the poverty fits in. It is part of India, it is certainly not beautiful, but definitely not ugly. I cannot explain it yet, or probably ever. I would not say I was immune to it, definitely not. I will have to pass on this one for now. I may well be back, but the travels brings you tales of other possibly great if unexpected destinations, Nigeria, Nepal, Ghana, Tanzania, Iran, Israel, Jordan.... The list grows, but the bank balance decreases. Time will tell.
If anyone asked me if they should go to India I would definitely say yes, but it depends on the person and what they are looking for.
Like I said "So that was India", but only a very small part of it. I hope I come back.

And now I am in Malaysia. It is a bit like a home coming, especially since Henk and Jinna are at the airport to meet me, pick me up and take me to there place for a few days. If I had an appartement like theirs, I may be tempted back here for a bit of work.
They are a smashing couple. Henk is Henk, you cannot explain him, he is just a good man, you have to meet him.
Well, a couple of tigers with Henk and a chin wag and bed and a real bed, soft, welcoming and in a lovely room. Will I be able to sleep? YOU BET I WILL.

Monday, 10 March 2008

My penultimate day in India. Where has it gone?

29/1 - The legs loads better, so after a banana porridge boost I'm off for a mini wander. It's not 100%, so took a cycle rickshaw to Old Delhi. I must find the working areas of cities, because Delhi definitely doesn't look like a capital city from what I have seen, although Connaught Place where I played chicken and lost is quite modern, in fact very modern, but still not enough to say "capital".
Old Delhi has a nice everyday feel about it. I was dropped outside the Jama Masjid, India's biggest Muslim temple. I forget how many people it will hold. I took one look at the steps and decided to give it a miss. I wandered around to where I thought the Red Fort might be and stumbled across a Hindu temple, so perched outside there for a while. It was peaceful and had a bit of a natter whilst watching the world go by. A lot of the Hindus bless themselves as they pass the temple, whether they are on foot, cycle, motorbike or car. This is a busy temple too, it must be important, the bells outside are getting a lot of stick.
Hit the road and hit the Red Fort. I'd have done well to miss it as it is huge. I had to run the tout gauntlet on the way here. Delhi is Toutsville. Everyone wants to show me Delhi. I wandered along to one of the entrances, the fort is in a haze. I am not sure if it is morning haze or smog. Probably a bit of both. I decided not to go in, but sat on the wall of the moat for yet another breather. I think I am getting almost middle aged. A young lady came over and asked if she could have her photo taken with me. My fame as the bloke with the sign behind him "Come and talk to stupid" must be spreading through India, because I looked and it wasn't there. She was a smashing lass and her friends all came over for a natter. I forgot to look for the sign at this point. They had come from Assam, which is a fair old hike. We had a couple of group shots then and the lady asked for my address, so they will probably all have moved in when I get home. It seems to be a done thing, to ask for addresses or phone numbers, it has happened a few times, so they are probably fighting over my house as I type.
Wandered on down Old Delhi's main shopping drag, the smog is begining to lift and it now sweat your whatsits off time. I went into an Indian fast food shop and fastly left. I asked for masala kocheri and was sent to a counter where you have to order and get a receipt I think. People were diving in with money, receipts, complaints, so I took a sharp Harp exit. Strangely enough I exited straight into a confectionery shop which sold samosa etc too. I scoffed my samosa and kocheri and wandered off with my cake to find a step, but once sat there I got mithered to death by a beggar with better shoes than me, so I ate my cakes on the hoof.
Behind this main drag, Chandni Chouwk, there's a very tightly packed bazaar, that the LP warns you off at this time, due to it being hectic. I took notice at the first entry, it was heaving and not good Gil territory, but the second wasn't bad and I couldn't resist. I got loads of strange looks in there. It could have been because 99% of the stalls/shops are saree shops. The colours are great in the shops and there are bunches of women sat in some of the shops with bright coloured material scattered all around them. They look like they are having a ball, which is very strange for women shopping. I hit a few dead ends trying to find my way out, before a young lad took pity on me and showed me the back way out. I could have been there all day, the way I was shown didn't look like a way out and when I made it there was a studded wooden door that didn't look like the entry to a bazaar. It was like secret tunnels. One of the dead ends I hit opened into a courtyard selling chai and only had the one entrance. It was like being in some Indiana Jones film, or perhaps I am now a member of some secret masons society after finding the inner sanctum and secret entry. Now I am getting giddy, back to the blog.
My mini-wander is turning into an epic, so I found a bench and did some mandatory people-watching. Before the bench I had asked for a price on a cycle richshaw back. It was an inflated Rs100, so I headed for the bench. By the time I'd made the bench, without saying a word it as Rs80 and after his next 3 visits was down to Rs50, much to the amusement of the Indian bloke sat next to me. As usual there was some nattering whilst sat on the bench before I headed back for a brew and a piece of banana cake.
Went back to the cheapest place in Paharganj, with the seats outside to sit and watch the sun go down. The Swedish lady and her niece where here again. I told you it is the best spot to sit in Paharganj. I met a Kiwi couple here at breakfast. I have met some great people on my travels. Life is good.
As the sun dropped a cow turned up, everyone loves this place. It stood at the door until the waiter came out with a few chapatis and hand fed her, then it wandered off into the sunset, only to turn up an hour later on its way back. It new it was onto a good thing so stopped for another handout before being shooed on.
I went for an e-fix and blew my last meal in India. It was too late for anything heavy, so settled for some pancake and honey, which did remind me of Goa.
Off to bed for my last time in India. POSSIBLY, you never know in this place.

Our Val should be here today.

28/1 - Happy birthday little Sis. I hope the ticket arrived in the card. If not, I'll plod along on my own.
The knee is a bit unstable this morning, so decided not to be macho, which may surprise my sisters, I'm not sure about Mick. Anyway, I went to the Doc over the road and came away with a prescription longer than the shopping list I take to Tesco. I couldn't be bothered climbing the stairs to my room, so plonked on a step, popped my pills, rubbed in the raljax and put on the bandage. Where is your daughter nurse when you need her. Probably at work, so fair enough. She would not have been able to help for laughing anyway.
Off for a slow hobble, but it looks like Delhi will go mostly unseen. Sat for a brew and got chatting with a Swedish aunt and her niece. The aunt has been coming to India for 20 years now. I have met a good few people who do the same. India is a place you can fall in love with easily. I don't know what it is, but that is the way of the place. The touts are a minor irritant, the poverty is part of India, I hope it will improve, but both these things are overshadowed by the beauty and the feel of the place. The poverty is everywhere, but it becomes accepted, rightly or wrongly.
The Swedish aunt goes to Sweden for a couple of months in spring to work, goes to her static caravan in Greece for a couple of months and spends the rest of the year in India. She must have a good job for 2 months. She is an interesting lady. She meditates a lot and stays in a charity place. There are worse lives out there.
Phoned my little Sister to wish her happy birthday. She told me I had to have a beer for her birthday, so as usual, doing as I am told, I did. My first in 4 weeks, just the one though. Had some snap and hit the sack. I never ventured more than half a mile from the hotel, so not an interesting day in the blog. The photos are from the cafe where I met the Swedish aunt and niece. It is the best cafe in the area, cheap and has some seats on the street, a great place to kill some time.

Delhi day.

27/1 - I decided to little today. Breakfast in a rooftop restaurant, but no view like in Agra or Varanasi. Did a bit of surfing and went for a wander. Got done by an autorickshaw driver, but only Rs 10. I wanted the Post Office, we went to a travel agents, supposedly for a free map, but for his commission. He was then going to take me to the Post Office, via a shop, so I got out and walked. I could travel for the rest of my life and still not learn. I continued wandering under the watchful concern of rickshaw drivers who assured me it was 2 or 3 kilometres to the Post Office. If it was that far I hate to think how long my willie is. I arrived after tout after tout after tout and got run over. A slight exaggeration. I was crossing the road which was quiet and about 4 lanes wide and one way. A certainty even for me to get over. An autorickshaw came around the bend and continued to aim at me as I crossed, something a lot of them do for some reason, at the last second he swerved away, but the motor bike behind him didn't see me. Somehow I have twisted my knee. The thought that went through my head was "Don't break anything, I want to go diving". Strange life.
I could have swung for the rickshaw driver, they really piss me off. I hobbled to the side of the road with loads of help, including the motorcyclist. I sat for 5 minutes to let everything subside then hobbled off to the Post Office even slower than normal. It cant have been too bad, I walked away from a rickshaw who was trying to rip me off.
I got back to the hotel with lots of strange looks, got some ice and sat and watched 2 films moving it around my knee.
Not the best day I have had in India. Delhi does not strike me as a capital city, but I have not seen a lot as yet. It is noisy, as usual and the touts are the worst so far, but I am becoming tougher, which is handy since I leave in a few days. Never mind, next time I'll be ready.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

And off to the Taj Mahal.

26 /1 - I didn't hear the call for prayers this morning, but got up anyway, 5.30. Left the hotel just before 6.00 and walked straight into a rickshaw driver. At least he told me I was going to the wrong gate for the Taj, the one I was heading for didn't open until 8.00. A lucky break, nobody else had explained this. So off to the East gate. I was told bags and mobiles weren't allowed, so stuck a book in my fleece pocket to have a read in the gardens. YES fleece, it is a bit nippy here in the morning. There is a search before you go in and books are not allowed. "What's that all about Grandad". I saw loads of bags too and people on their mobiles. I promised I would not read my book, so the guard let me in and I didn't because I'm a good lad and always do as I'm told.
Entry is 10 quid for foreigners and 30p for Indians, well it is their place, but us foreigners get the last laugh. We get to use the toilet for free, but Indians have to pay 3p. I went 42 times in 3 hours.
After seeing the Taj from afar I was expecting to be disappointed as I was when I went to see the Mona Lisa, but it is tremendous. Perhaps I should have gone to see the Mona Lisa at 6.15 a.m.
The LP says it is best to see the Taj Mahal at dawn so you can see the colour change from purple, to light blue to sandy white, but I think there is a bit of poetic license in that. It was wonderful to see it gradually brighten as the sun rose. It is a magnificent building and a great setting. The Emporer Shah Jahan must have been deeply in love with his wife to have built such a beautiful, grand memorial for her. He is in there with her too. I wonder if he thought in 1631 how many people would flock to see it. It is hard to believe that it was allowed to fall into disrepair, until you remember the povery in India.
Some buildings become less impressive the more you look at them, but this structure became more magnificent the more I looked at it. The light changes it and increases its beauty and watching it sharpen out of the dawn was very special in my eyes. It was a privilege to be there.
The early morning crowd is nearly all Westerners. The Indian people start to arrive around 9.00. I guess they don't read the LP. The only locals are the guides cashing in. From some of their chat they read the LP. Some of them were professional, judging by my earwigging.
I see what the Indian man who told me to go see the Raja Swami temple meant when he said it was more beautiful than the Taj. The marble carving is, but it wont have the grandeur of the Taj, I don' t think it will be so imposing. In case you haven't guessed I have fallen in love with this wonder of the world, it is truely magnificent. I think the budget ran out before it was finished though. The Palace sits on a platform, so that the backdrop is nearly always sky, to get up the platform are a flight of marble stairs, but they couldn't afford a bannister, cheapskates. I wandered around the back and sat on a bench for a break and saw a hornbill fly across the river. There are a lot of birds on the river, it is a peaceful place to sit. I spotted a vulture too, perched on corner of the building.
Moving on and letting the Taj impression grow. The red sandstone outer buildings, which have various uses, provide a good contrast to the Taj Mahal and are smashing in their own right. The inside is not as impressive as the outside, but worth a look. The marble inlaying is very impressive.
I have been in here 3 hours now and the time has flown. Parked on a bench for a while and watched the beautiful sarees arrive. Another advantage of the early start is that is very peaceful with only a large handful of people, all in awe.
Waddled my way to the exit through a photo display of great monuments, ruins, palaces etc in India and realised I have hardly scratched the surface. Called at the toilet, visit number 43. HA HA HA.
Everything in the grounds is symmetrical. Even the flower beds have the same flowers in either side of the canal down the middle. They include some dahlias. That would have impressed my Dad.
Headed for the south exit and some breakfast at the much lauded Joney's (no typo) Place, but changed my mind when I spotted the steps and no bannister. The shipment must have been hijacked, or flogged on during construction.
It turned out to be a good thing. I went out the west exit and got lost in the back alleys of the Taj Ganj area or Agra. This is the real living area of Taj Ganj. I got some funny looks that seemed to say "That pillocks lost", but it was good to walk around and see the local life, like a Mam pouring water over her nippers backside, whilst he wiped it into the gutter, you know, the usual family stuff.
Found a stall selling jalebis, which the Raja Swami man recommended to me. The are fried up and a guaranteed sugar overdose. I tried to give them away, but nobody would take them. I don't know if that is a religious thing. Anyway an appreciative dog ended up with them.
I stumbled out of the back alleys and into Joneys. Who needs a plan? I only had his home made meusli and a lassi and that was great The muesli was cornflakes, yoghurt, nuts, coconut, fruit and delicious.
Stoked up, I took a wander and perched on a step next to a Seikh. He turned out to be a bit of a lad and I reckon one of India's original grumpy old men, as far as religion and the people of India are concerned. He seemed to have old fashioned views. I don't think he was a full shilling, not far off, but not quite a full one. Probably the same value as me.
He had just come from a couple of hours down the river, washing himself and his clothes. He was perched on his knapsack, that looked like a bale of cotton.
Typical of Indians, he had family all over the place and had been a cabby in New York for years, an engineer somewhere in the Arab states. As he reeled off the stories he kept sprucing up his handlebar mustache and he definitely had an eye for the ladies. He would not have been out of place in "It ain't half hot Mum". He is one of lifes real characters. After a long chat, I hit the road and he threw his knapsack over his shoulder and hit the road for the local Sikh temple. He had explained how the temples all over India give free food and lodging to people who turn up, any race, creed or colour. This was how he was travelling around India, picking up casual work as he went.
After a few hours I hit Joney's again for the famed Mulai Kofta and banana lassi and they were as good as the hype. He puts great pride and care into preparing all his food. The appearance of the place would have matched Joneys greasy spoon, rather than Joneys place, but I recommend it to any Agra visitor.
I decided to hit the road and dump my bag at the station and have a wander around the local area. IT is not the Fort station, so loads of rickshaw and taxi drivers tell me there is nothing to see here and I should let them run me around local sites and shops where they will pick up commission. They were wrong. Around here is the real India. Lots of roadside stalls, people sitting around chatting. I set off for a quiet spot to sit, which was not easy to find, but eventually settled down behind a local and his barrow on a roundabout wall. I was OK for a while, then a young lad, about 13, turned up and tried to get me to take his cycle rickshaw. When I declined he just went for the money, so I made him choose a hand for 1 or 5 rupees. He won and stuck around for a while. We had a bit of crack and the Grandad tricks came out. We were gathering a bit of a crowd and having a laugh, but it started to get a bit too big, so I legged it up the road to find another spot on an abandoned sewer pipe below a billboard. I was spotted by a beggar lad who was a real pain in the arse and needed a slap, so I headed off to the station to board the Shatanti Express to Delhi. This was a bit different to sleeper class, it included free water, free meal, well paid for in the price, free ice cream, reclining seats. The luggage rack was overhead, so I was struggling until a lad came and threw it up for me.
Into Delhi, phoned around and found a possible hotel. Some bloke tried to scam me, but I jumped into a cycle rickshaw, in a Gil sort of jumping way and hit the road, dropped at the hotel and hit the sack. Here we are in Delhi. What adventure awaits me here???