Seriously. And I thought the honking was bad in Egypt! Clearly I had India-amnesia from being here last time and forgot how everyone honks constantly and for everything. I am amazed again by the incredible and irratic driving of all those who share the road...from cars, to autorickshaws, to bicycle rickshaws, to pedestrians, to cows, to goats, to camels and even elephants. You name it, it is on the road...mostly staying to the left, but generally fitting and squeezing between anything that might be in its way to get from point A to point B. And apart from being a cow, you better move quickly or suffer the consequences. India is certainly not a country for the faint-hearted. Plug your ears, close your eyes, and pray. Maybe that is why India is so open to the idea of a country of Muslims, Hindus, and Christians...they know you need to pray to SOMEONE to survive here. Take your pick.
Yesterday we arrived in Agra and had amazing luck because the Taj Mahal (and all Heritage Sites) were free for the day. YIPEE!!! So we saved a bundle of cash and got to enjoy both the Taj and the Agra Fort. Rahima got chased by monkeys in the Fort, because they got territorial and mad at some other people, and then chased Rahima by association. I don't know who was screaming louder, Rahima or the monkey. I haven't laughed so hard in a while. Now though, she is petrified whenever she sees a monkey, which is almost everywhere. They were all over the stairs in the train station today and she refused to walk near them. One crossed the street later on and she freaked out again. Me with spiders...that is now Rahima with her beloved monkeys.
Oh, and speaking of spiders...those little bastards ate me alive the other day. At first I thought I had fleas. No, really. You name it, it bites me. I am a walking advertisement for anti-malaria pills. So I have some mosquito bites, then the flea bites and then two days ago it must have been spiders, because now I am all welted up and itching like MAD. There must be at least 7 bites. I hate them. Hate, hate, HATE them.
But the food here is amazing and finally we are in a country where we feel like we can afford to be. A full meal is about $2. And that is a few vegetable curries, rice, naan, roti, tea, and desert. Breakfast of eggs and toast and coffee is about $1.20. Rickshaw rides, about $1. Bought a pair of linen capris for $5. My newest favorite Indian streetfood desert (galub jamun) is about 20 cents. They are little donut hole-like fried balls soaked in a simple syrup. Delicious.
So tomorrow we jump on a train for a 26 hour ride (not air conditioned, God, Allah, and Vishnu help us) to head towards Darjeeling. Eventually we will cross over into Nepal for a while and hopefully do a bit of trekking. In any case, we are really enjoying India and the overwhelmingness of all that it consists of. As most of the hustlers will tell you, "In India, everything is possible." And guess what? They're right.