India travel blog

My Hotel in Delhi (Not a joke)

Gandhi Assasinated on this spot

Sidesaddle with a child

What's brown and sounds like a bell?

Languar monkey all over India

Inside the Red Fort Agra

Taj

Morning in Agra

Khojahro Temple

Statuary from the "Kama Sutra Temple"

Ganesha

Inside the Vishnu Temple

Cleaning the Temples

Laxmi Temple

The Ken River

A Jackal

Sheikh, the driver, with forensic evidence


Yesterday we drove from Agra to Khajuraho. Sheikh drives like a mad man. At times I am convinced he thinks he is the only one who should be on the road, constantly blaring his horn and lecturing people to get out of the road. On the other hand Adults, children, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, motorcycles, vespas, you name it leap out of every direction into the street. It's like a roller coaster. Near Gwalior we come to a halt. There is an hour wait as every vehicle in a twenty kilometer radius attempts to get through a tiny gate at a railroad crossing. Madness. At first we joke about it but Sheikh becomes frustrated and starts swearing at people. Once through we again achieve a nauseating pace. Not far south of Agra we pass quickly from Uttar Pradesh, through Rajisthan and into Madyah Pradesh. You cross a river to get into Madyah Pradesh. The landscape changes rapidly. Dry, desert like with large rocky hills dotting the landscape. It is barren. The earth is eaten away in many spots by erosion. Sheikh tells me it is dangerous to drive across this area at night. Bandits. Have been for thousands of years. Mostly we drive in silence, if you ignore the cacophony from outside. We easily spend an hour without talking. When Sheikh does talk he drops pearls like "The U.S. is the Godfather of the world". Sometimes he discusses the mating habits of various simian species but makes it sound like Penthouse Forum. He then will say "This is no joke". He says to drive in India you need good brakes, good horn and good luck. It seems to me he is tempting fate by talking on the phone as he dodges and blares. I actually slept on a couple of occasions. Signs on the side of the road for a school to learn English "Talk Show - Exceed your potential". Good thing I already speak it pretty good. I haven't figured out what the Hydrogen Factory is. We arrived in Khajuraho around dusk. Sheikh is tired and just wants to go to sleep. I venture into the hotel. I am the only guest. There are reasons for that. Though this place looks nice, marble floors and wide hallways, they keep the doors wide open. Insects aren't bad this time of year, but that's just dumb. In the restaurant the food is ridiculously expensive. The people are nice. In Agra I slept a good 8 hours from 10 pm to 6 am. No real jet lag. In Khajuraho I wake at 4:15 am. With 6 hours sleep I watch some Australian TV then as dawn arrives wander around the vegetable garden out back. Cabbages, tomatoes, Papaya, Lemon. I walk out to the street and admire the squalor. I run into Sheikh. He ad I walk to a hut where a woman is makes Chai. She's not around but her 3 children and some other cast offs are and they make us the tea. Chai is almost always safe. You've got to boil it well to make it. Sheikh tells me how her husband was killed in an accident and no one will marry her so she has this twig hut for her and the children. When we are done I want to give her a couple of dollars but Sheikh tells me that if I do the "bad men" will come and take it from her and they will think she has some connection and punish her for not telling them. So we just pay for the tea and leave. I get dropped of at the temples. These things are large and extremely impressive. While there is no connection they are called the Karma Sutra temples. Among the many carvings one theme is erotica. No one knows why. Some think that the temples were instructive to young men to learn the art of love. Clearly the art was abandoned for a Ford assembly line process that serves this population well. When I walk in to the temple area it is almost deserted and cool. As the day progresses it becomes crowded and hot. I have a good guide book but after a while the temples become all the same. The same sculptures are in the same spot, the same eastern entrance, vestibule and walk around areas inside. By noon I am done. Later in the afternoon we go to the Ken River Gharial Sanctuary. Gharials are very rare long, thin snouted crocodiles. Sheikh clearly doesn't want to do this. He drives like a maniac through the park scaring the animals off. He Yells at a safari jeep stopped to look at some animal. When stop he keeps joking about being eaten by tigers out here. "They will have a choice, white meat or dark meat." The landscape is harsh and beautiful. I see some Antelope and Jackals, not much else. Impressive volcanic rock the Ken river flows through.



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