Today was a logistical challenge for our guide Krishan. The bus we have been using the last twelve days went back to Delhi because a special out-of-district tax was charged on a daily basis now that we were in Uttar Pradesh. Our first travel leg today involved taking a train to Jhansi. The original plan was to leave the hotel in tuk tuks and hire a truck for the luggage. That seemed a bit unwieldily, so Krish hired another bus for the ride to the railroad station. As we waited for the train to arrive, we shared the platform with a cow that wandered in. Cows can wander whenever and wherever they want to go. The train arrived more or less on time and we had to hustle onboard since it only paused for five minutes. Krish hired porters to help with the big suitcases and we settled in to comfortable reserved seats and enjoyed the view out the window. I was hoping for some kind of Indian railroad adventure, but the ride was smooth even when the train went fast. Wish we could say the same about Amtrak. A porter cruised up and down the aisle offering water, lhassi, and some sort of mysterious breakfast. After the usual bounteous hotel breakfast buffet, we didn't need a thing.
Apparently the tracks have been built all the way to Khajuraho, our final destination, but they are new and service has been problematic, so we got off the train in Jhansi and transferred our luggage to another bus. As we took the half hour drive to our lunch stop, Krish tried to talk to us, but the microphone was poor. While we ate lunch, he ordered yet another bus and transferred our luggage yet again. This bus will be ours the next two days until we fly to Varanasi. We ate lunch at another picturesque maharajah's home set on hills overlooking the river. It would have been nice to linger in this serene spot, but we still had many miles to go.
The rest of the drive was the worst we've experienced in our time here in India. It far exceeded any road we drove in Alaska for bumps. My boobs may never be the same. The pavement was broken and buried in the dirt. We saw some meager efforts at road repair. Generally these are done by 4'8' women wearing saris who carry buckets of stones on their heads. We could ask what the men are doing during their labors, but we've seen them many times, sitting around in town, yakking and drinking tea.
We took a quick stop at a Persian water wheel. This device has been used here for 2,000 years and involves buffalo circling a wheel which turns another wheel of buckets that scoops the water out of the ground. Very picturesque, but primitive. We made it to the hotel just before dark, so our bus driver wouldn't have to worry about hitting any of the black water buffalo that wander the black asphalt at will. That would have brought bad karma indeed.