On Google maps, the route out of Delhi looked straightforward; it was anything but. So much backtracking, so many bewildered looks from random folk. Why can’t they comprehend their own anglicised place names pronounced in a native English accent! Call me old fashioned, but India was the bloody jewel in the crown, maybe one would do better shouting and waving a big stick. But really, I felt pretty stupid – “T-AJ M-HAL”.
Finally on the right road, the countryside slipped along beside an empty highway, propelled and accompanied by the pulse of a simple, elderly, single.
The fields were divided into numerous plots, large enough to be worked by a person with an animal and punctuated by cattle, hay ricks, and little earthly stupas of drying cow dung arranged like cinnamon whirls on a bakery counter.
Though leaving Delhi was hard, finding the hotel in Agra was easy. I arrived in time for sunset, and the best of views.
Today has been a baptism of fire: negotiating midday Delhi traffic on a steed you have to kick into life, lost without a map on a 200 mile ride. But perhaps, more disconcertingly, I’ve enjoyed every moment, the song of the road, “creative” maneuvers, bemused smiles, reaching the unearthly Taj Mahal at dusk and sucking on a beer.