I thought it would be fitting to mention (after a blog comment from my Dad… Hi Dad!) that when in India it is rare that you come across many people who are not Indian. Maybe this is something we hadn’t explained in our other posts. So, therefore me and Chris attract a lot of attention here just through being ourselves doing normal everyday things. For instance some people will stop what they are doing to stare at us whilst we walk past, some people will stop us and ask to take our photo or ask to have a photo taken with us, some people will just get their camera phone out to take photos of us without asking, Tuk Tuk drivers will run across the street past lots of Indians to ask us if we want to go somewhere. This was even the case at the Taj Mahal, where Indians were by far the most seen race followed by groups of Chinese tourists and the occasional white face. Whilst this seems a bizzare thought it very quickly became normal to us as it happens so frequently, sometimes constantly throughout a day. As we have come across many people, mainly hotel and restaurant owners who we have spoken to, often it seems a common trend that most people haven’t left their village or town but they may “have been to Delhi once” for example. With this thought in mind it makes the attention make more sense, as for some people, especially children, we may be one of the few white faces they have seen in their home town.
Our six and a half hour wait at Agra train station at first seemed like it would take an age, however we started a game of cards and soon got the attention of a couple of young railway children who we taught snap and clock to. This killed a couple of hours and we both felt really humbled that they joined in with us. This also attracted a large crowd of Indian men who watched the four of us play cards for the entire time. The games probably would have carried on for longer had the children not got ushered out of the station by a disapproving train worker. Our long anticipated train arrived and after all the warnings we had received we were both very content with our 3A tier cabin for the night. We arrived into Khajuharo at about 7am, seeing the sunrise over the countryside from our train window.
Khajuharo was a place we hadn’t planned on visiting in India but after our hiccup in Delhi it became part of our itinerary and gladly so as it has been our favourite Indian destination so far. We spent our first day getting to know the local area, it is an area of three parts- the old village, the new village and the tourist village. Our hotel was situated in the new village. On walking round we found that all the children in the area want to talk to the tourists as a way to practice their English, so everyday we had conversations with local children. Some of whom would talk to us everyday. On our walk round the area i spotted a ‘100 rupee sale rail’ (One pound sale rail to those in England) and not being one to turn down a bargain i got a new pair of silly trousers to double my collection. Little did i know that these luminous orange trousers would get us in a spot of bother the next day…
The next day we decided to search for the ancient temples of Khajuharo (the reason why tourists come here) and after declining many a tuk tuk offer we started our walk through the countryside towards the temples. En route a buffalo- who was having a bad morning it seemed- took offence to my bright choice of trousers and charged towards me and Chris. Obviously we legged it in the opposite direction, up a hill, past a man who was having a wash in a well! This man shouted the buffalo away before laughing at us. At the time we didn’t find this fiasco amusing but looking back at the image of two distinctively tourist looking brits running up a hill followed by a buffalo whilst man washes in well, we can now laugh at the situation! Adding to the humour was the fact that we bumped into the man who washed in the well everyday from then on and each time he would say “No buffalo today?” as he laughed.
We found the temples and had fun looking around them and sitting and relaxing at our slow pace just admiring the view. Again pitying those with tour guides! Other than the temples there is little to see or do in Khajuharo so we took the opportunity to relax here as there was no where near as much hustle and bustle as we have experienced in the rest of India. Saying that, the place came alive at night due to the Hindu festival of Shivas wife. The car park area opposite our hotel was filled with stages to host talent competitions and outdoor cinemas. Which would have been entertaining had it not have mostly consisted of some man yelling down the microphone all night! We managed to see some of the talent competition which was the local children either singing or dancing bollywood styley but we could here all the action from our hotel room anyway so we didn’t feel we were missing out too much!
On our last day in Khajuharo we managed to catch a cold, which seemed strange as we have been used to red hot days since we left England nearly two weeks ago. So we again chose to just wander the area and sit in shade wherever possible. Our overnight train journey to Varanasi was again a comfortable experience and as we were both feeling under the weather we slept the whole time. This blog is being composed from our bunker and we can see our first light rain shower of our journey. We are looking forward to exploring Varanasi and making our way into Nepal on Friday!
First leg of India is nearly over!