Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate the events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. The below-expressed views, opinions or analogies are personal and may not be in line with the widespread conceptions. Please go to Motorcycle Diaries -> India: Ocean to Mountains (or Click here) to check out the previous events.
Date: 24th August 2016; Intended Route: Agra – Sagar
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” – Buddha
If you ask any of the professional riders, they don’t consider it as a really good practice to listen to music while riding. They say the music distracts the rider and it might cause accidents as well. And that’s one of my bad habits. I need my earphones; I must listen to music when I ride. But on this expedition, it was day 26, and I was still riding without music. My bull’s thump was the most melodious music my ears could get. And I was enjoying every beat of it.
Anyway, today was the day when we got to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal. My expectations were sky high, I had heard a lot about it. It was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan in the loving memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Maybe that’s why they refer it to as an epitome of love. People also say that depending on what time of the day it is and whether or not there’s the moon at night, Taj Mahal appears to be of a different color every time. Some even believe that this changing pattern of colors depicts different moods of a woman.
All this hype around Taj just made me more excited and curious. Since it was a weekday, we were not expecting a lot of crowd but when we reached there, things were different. I started getting a bizarre vibe, it was like a market. People were sitting on the 2-wheeler parking and having food besides a pile of cow dung. The guy who was selling the parking tickets was even asking for money to watch out the luggage. He said he will not be responsible if someone runs away with the luggage, in short, he was asking money to stop himself from stealing our luggage. And we had to give him 10 bucks not to steal our luggage. Holy mother of god!
The ticket counter was a mile away from the parking lot, in that one mile; the vendors were trying to sell me, anything and everything available on this face of the earth. They would even sell the Taj Mahal to you if you would ask! There was a chaos of different level altogether at the Ticket counter. It was like a first day, first show of the most awaited movie of the year. As we descended into the anarchy, we saw that men were just shouting and screaming but women were fighting, they were literally combating with each other to get the tickets. That scene convinced me that India’s woman empowerment scheme has come a long way. And who ever survived the war got the tickets. And I walked out of the queue alive with two entry tickets in my hands.
After getting the tickets, there was another to queue to enter Taj Mahal. While we were entering the Taj, one of the policemen walked up to me and asked: “Do you have an Indian Identity Proof?”And everyone was looking at me as if I had committed a crime. There were 1000s of people in the queue and why am I the only who gets to show the ID proof to enter the Taj. I felt like the government had issued a shoot at sight order against me. I showed the ID and they started frisking me. And lightheartedly I said, “Yeah, check everything thoroughly; you never know what’s inside the jacket!” The security guy laughed allowed me to pass.
Now, imagine you have been waiting for hours to see your favorite guitarist perform but he comes on the stage with his limbs fractured. You feel bad, the entire situation sucks, right! I felt the same. When we finally got in, we saw that it was under renovation. All the supporting structure around the Taj just spoiled the view. It was disappointing.
Earlier, when I was standing in the queue one of the tour guides had said: “when you leave; you take the Taj with you in your heart.”And I just wanted to find that son of a bitch and whack his face. I felt dejected, maybe because of my high expectations or maybe I would have had a cheerful memory of Taj if I would have visited the place at a different time of the year.
Anyway, we left Taj within a couple of hours and started riding towards Sagar. Once we crossed Jhansi, I felt like taking the diversion towards Khajuraho. Since it was not on our itinerary, I had to check with my partner and arrive at a consensus. We discussed and took the call to go for it. The road from Jhansi to Khajuraho was flushed with cows. After every 2 KMs, there were tens of cows standing in the middle of the road chewing some shit and blocking the entire road, my hatred reached to such an extent that I felt like kicking on their face and send them off to Kerala (one of the proud beef eating states of India). The roads were scenic but the smell of the dung and the change in the color of the road due to the same spoiled the show.
After a while, it started raining too and the rain drops were as big as a middle finger of a nine-year-old, saying “on your face, bitch”. But luckily, the rain stopped after 15 minutes. Since it had rained, I had to keep my visor open to avoid the reflection in my eyes. And an open visor invites all the insects inside your helmet and once an insect gets inside your helmets, it very much likes to whisper ‘fuck you’ in your ear. As I was almost about to crash into a truck while chasing an insect out of my helmet, I decided to call it a day. It was not one of the best days we had but it was not that bad either.
P.S. I beg to all the driders out there, please do not use high beam at night 🙂