Hello and apologies that it has taken me so long to update this space. Unfortunately this week has not been all good. I’ve been sick for a couple of days and that’s the reason why I couldn’t post any earlier. As the title of tis post gives away, it’s been a bit of an odd week that has been filled with a bit of everything really. I think that I must have gone through every possible emotional state at some point during it. There’s been a lot of hectic and chaos at the office, I’ve been on an adventure, I’ve witnessed some upsetting stuff on the street and I’ve had some realisations regarding the work I’m doing here for Cintan. I’ve also eaten some amazing Indian food, which I thought would surely make me ill, but which didn’t, and then of course I then had a mediocre Western “can’t-go-wrong” dish that eventually did make me spend a night on the toilet and a day in bed. In this post, I’ll try to talk a bit about my experiences of the past week. But I‘ll have to keep it brief. There’s a lot of work, which needs to be done and I’m starting to run out of time… I’ve only got two weeks left now!!!
Before I start, I however wanted to share a couple of pictures of the area where I live. As I said in one of my first posts, it really is a lovely and vibrant (in it’s own way) place, which particularly lives up at night. So, here you go. The photos are not brilliant, but I think the do express very well what the place is like.
Last week, I can’t remember what day it was, I had a bit of a shocking experience on the street. As I went for lunch with my colleague Seth we saw how one man chucked an old card board box on the street and two 5 year old children, who were dressed in rag and who looked quite dirty, had a fight over. One of them was a little girl, the other one was a boy. The girl just pushed the boy over. He fell and landed with his naked knees on the street. The girl looked up at us and started grinning in a very bizarre way. I cannot find the way to describe it properly. It was as if she was trying to say: “Look at us playing” but in the mean time her expression also said something else – something far more serious. Even though she made it look like play, the reason why she knocked her little companion over was that this box (for a waste item) is of quite a high value. Seth and I found it very hard to comprehend what we’d just witnessed. But it was real and were both very shocked. This time, I was not prepared to see such a powerful scene. It happened all of a sudden and very unexpectedly, literally 100 meters away from the office during the lunch break. I think that’s why it struck me so hard. I had no time to mentally prepare for it and let my mind build a “mental wall” to protect me.
Last Sunday times I had better however. This time my kitchen remained dry and I managed to travel to Agra. Having missed the fast train connection (no, I did not oversleep!! The metro station did not open on time – now how’s that for an excuse?) I took the train from a different station. This was considerably cheaper, but the journey also took an hour longer. This was not a problem though as I got to know a woman from Switzerland with whom I spend the whole day, so I had somebody to talk to. It was nicer than travelling on my own. Unfortunately we were only sold “normal” tickets at the station and told we could upgrade to the AC (air conditioned) class in the train. What a LIE!! The journey to Agra was fine and we travelled “air conditioned” (for the normal price). However, on the way back, I had to stand (for three hours) in a non-ventilated spot. This was quite an experience, as (due to the temperatures) we kept the door open for most of the journey. So at least that made it supportable. However, every so often I had to move and shift someone to approach the door and throw his/her rubbish out of the train.
Agra was nice. Well not the city, which is a shithole (sorry but it’s true!), but the monuments. We visited the Fort and the Taj Mahal (see photographs below). The reason why most guides tell you to spend a whole day in Agra is that you usually have to wait in really, really long lines. Well that is if you’re a man. Women can just jump the male queue and wait in the 10-meter female line. This is why we decided that I was the Swiss lady’s “husband”. I, in this way, I managed to jump the 200 meter queue in which there was NO gap whatsoever. Like this nobody can squeeze in (if you read my post on the metro system you can imagine how often this is being tried).
I walked past the men’s queue, played Mr stupid Westerner… and got away with it! It was not my proudest moment but considering that there were only nationals in the queue and as foreigner you pay a terribly inflated price, I think in some way I received justice. I did not feel too guilty anyway.
Anyhow, as I mentioned before, on Monday night I got sick and I spend all Tuesday in bed and it really took me until Friday to fully recover. The problem was that at the beginning I did not manage to keep hydrated. I got really weak and I only started improving as I managed to eat again. So it’s probably unsurprising that for the first time since I’d arrived my morale was quite low and at one point I wished I wasn’t here. But now it’s all good again and I’m in high spirits! However I have a lot of work at the office and also need to do uni work. Hence the poor quality of this post, but at least I can share some pictures.
All the best!