Agra do-do-do*

So here I am, just chillin’ with my adopted family at the Jaigurudev Temple just outside Delhi.

My family
Considering the fact they chased me around the temple and fetched someone to translate that they wanted a photo taking with me, they don’t look too chuffed about standing there, do they? I’m not entirely sure why the photo ended up being taken with my camera either, but hey-ho.

Weirdly, this has been a regular occurrence for me over the past three days. There are plenty of western tourists around, so I’m not sure what the appeal is of posing with me. Maybe they’ve seen me on the Farmers Weekly noos revoos and they want to prove to their mates that they’ve met an FWi journo…

The amount of attention I’ve been getting has been pretty draining today, I have to admit. I’ve hired a driver who, for the princely sum of £100, has driven me the five-hour journey from Delhi to Agra and will stay in this city as my personal chaffeur for the next two days before driving me back to Delhi again on Sunday. At pretty much every junction and road block along the way, we had people hammering on the car window trying to sell me things, get money from me, or offer me the chance to have my photo taken with a flea-bitten monkey on a chain.

When we finally arrived in Agra – home of the Taj Mahal and former capital of India – my driver gave me the full run-down of how I should behave here. “No more of your smiling,” he said. “And you say ‘thank you’ all of the time. Stop it, or you will be chased. There are lots of bad men here.”

Apparently Agra used to be a very industrialised city, with umpteen glass and steel factories employing a large number of the million-plus residents. The problem was, the factories were run on coal, which created smog and caused the Taj to look dingy – not good for tourism.

So, the government closed the factories but didn’t replace the industry, meaning (so Mr Driver says) the main career in the city is now crime, particularly when it comes to tourists. I got a sense of how different the atmosphere is in Agra when I went to another tomb/temple thing here and was hounded constantly for the hour I was there.

I’m doing my best not to let myself get too intimidated in India as I don’t want to stop myself doing things out of an imagined risk. But being a single, young (yes, young, Mr Geography), white female obviously brings unwanted attention. So while it may be wimpish, dinner tonight will come courtesy of the hotel restaurant.

*I realise these titles are getting progressively worse. This is only day three. Imagine how bad they’ll be by January 22….

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1 Response to “Agra do-do-do*”

  1. Norm

    I’m so glad I gave you that diatribe when you first said you were going to India. You are in a fine frame of mind after the initial shock. You will do well. Congratulations :-))