We started our day early because our train (booked through Cleartrip website) would be departing at 6am. It was an express train hence, it would only take us 2 hours to reach Agra. We took the AC car chair coach and surprisingly, it was spacious and there’s free coffee and breakfast. Unlike me, J was able to sleep during the ride. I was busy observing the view outside the railway.
At first, I was amazed to see people squatting by the side rail while facing the train passing by, seemingly observing. But as I observed them keenly, I realized that their pants were down, OMG they were passing motion. They do it in open spaces facing the railway, mostly men, adults and kids alike. I was flabbergasted to see this. Now I know where the title “Open Toilet” came from.
We went out of the train station and as expected, auto-rickshaws and cab drivers followed us to the reservation office, we were planning to book our train back to Delhi. We kept on ignoring and saying no to their offer because we know that there’s a prepaid taxi or auto-rickshaw service in front of the rail stations.
After getting our ticket back, we headed to the prepaid taxi station. It was just a small booth. All the drivers crowded towards the booth and everyone was speaking in Hindi to the person inside the booth, they’re all suggesting how much we should pay. The person inside the booth asked for our hotel address, and all the drivers, peeped unto it. I asked my friend to cover it. My friend was obviously annoyed because the price list was just in front our faces, and they’re still suggesting higher prices than the one posted on the wall.
Finally, an honest man beside me, whispered to me the correct price and we told the person in the booth that, we would only pay 120INRs to our Hotel (Hotel Rashmi) . They agreed. God, I couldn’t believe that even prepaid booths could be manipulated by outside forces!
He brought us to our Hotel and after the ride, he offered us a day car rental which we thought was reasonable at 1250INrs, we would be able to see the far-off Fatehpur Sikri and the must-sees within the city. We would pay the entrance fees and we know that already. He said , the car’s his brother’s.
We rested for a while and we met with the “brother”. As soon as we boarded the car, he said “ by the way, you have to pay for the parking and toll fees as well.” My friend was once again upset. We wanted to alight but the car already started moving. They didn’t inform us these details from the beginning, and it was partly our fault for not asking and confirming about the inclusions of the package.
In the car, we were quiet. I know my friend was angry. I thought, I had to be neutral, or else we all might get into trouble. After an hour of silence, we reached Fatehpur Sikri. While preparing to come out, one man suddenly entered the car and asked us in a commanding tone to take tuktuk going into the main entrance and a guide inside. My friend couldn’t anymore talk. She was very very very upset with all these “harrassments” we were getting. I said no fiercely again. The place was really turning me into a ‘fighter’
Touts, vendors and beggars endlessly followed us all along. We just couldn’t stop walking because everytime we did, someone would talk to us to sell us something. It was very tiring to say ‘no.no.no’.
Entrance to Fatehpur sikri (UNESCO World Heritage site) was 250INRs for foreigners. The complex was huge and beautiful.