Now I’m in Agra…

I spent yesterday afternoon on a train from Jaipur to Agra, from whence I continued on to Fatepur Sikri. I made the trip to Fatepur Sikri by taxi, which was driven by a fascinating conversationalist by the name of Sado. We talked about his vwey unusual life, including how he met his Korean wife on the train once in India, how their courtship-via-commute worked (she came to India seven times in five years to see him) and how finally told her parents if she was going to marry anyone, it would be him—at which point they finally acquiesced after years of resistance.

We talked endlessly of Korea, of Indian culture and films and history. After talking with him I am seriously thinking of writing a book of poems about the Jat Kingdom and all the looting the Jats did (a story first told me by Ritu, of course). He agreed to meet me in the morning and take me back to Delhi after taking me to Fatepur Sikri. In the morning, I was worried as he’d brought along a guide, but the guy turned out to be, as far as I could tel, not only erudite but legit. I didn’t want to ask how it was that someone who knows so much about history tours dumbass foreigners for the equivalent of about $2/hr, so I just shut up and learned from him.

After seeing the city of Fatehpur Sikri (and tons of pictures, though who knows how many are actually nice), Sado and I continued on to Agra. He gave me many warnings about things like how the rickshaw-wallahs will try to screw me out of money, to a stern reminder to be extra-careful about food due to the (apparently continuing, on a lower-scale) food-poisoning scams prominent in the area near the Taj Mahal. I complained that I didn’t wish to eat at Pizza Hut but he convinced me that it might be a good idea just the same. He also took me to one emporium, but you know, it’s almoost understandable considering how much his pay was, and I actually did get to see guys working on marble inlay work.

So anyway, all that was after touring the Red Fort. The Red Fort was great, really interesting to me. Thanks to all the descriptions from Ritu’s wonderful guiding at Red Fort, I could see a lot more in the place, moments of history, how it might have looked. It is funny to say that a friend’s description of the place could actuallymake it completely, wonderfully haunted for me… I’ve not heard any Indians tell stories of ghostly hauntings like you would hear at the Tower of London. But it wasn’t ghosts of the dead, it was more just the atmosphere of history that I could feel there. So many palaces, so many events. The guide I got there was also inexpensive and quite good.

Ah, and one of the highlights: last night I ate the first meal I’d had all day, after arriving at the Sanjay Palace Hotel (I think that’s what it’s called, in Fatehpur Sikri). My God that’s a nice little place. The food is wonderful—best dal I’ve had hands-down in all my life. Including my own dal. I also had this dish with cheese and “fruits” and which turned out to be pecans and raisins. Wonderful stuff! I repeatedly told him it was like heaven. If I’d any reason to be in Fatehpur Sikri again, I’d stay there and eat every meal at the place. Wow!

I’ve not really been eating everyday, though. It’s been a busy time, and I guess that’s part of why I’ve lost weight. My pants are getting loose. I’m not sure I can count on keeping it off… but it’d be nice!

One of the more curious things… the results from that astrologer I mentioned I’d be seeing. I got the idea when I talked to Rosie, just out of curiosity. I figured, hey, I can go blow a few measly dollars for the entertainment value. But the guy said a few things that were quite interesting. Two that have stuck in my mind, for which I can find no explanation:

  1. He said I have a great affinity for Ganesha. This is weird because I actually have reported that before; it’s something I said to John early on during this trip, I put it onto a postcard I sent to Kimberley… there’s even a scene where a drugged character in my novel has these bizarre visions of Ganesha-like beings leading him up to the clouds. So it’s kind of weird.
  2. He told me I would change my place of residence in August, which is funny; he didn’t know my line of work, or my nation of residence, even, when he said that. And such a move is a distinct possibility, or even a likelihood, barring unforeseen circumstances.

I’m still not a believer, but I certainly would not complain if what he claimed about other areas of my life were to come true. It was overall a pretty good horoscope, with other little interesting congruences with real life—like my luck (or lack thereof) with women in the past, and my readerliness (I had no book visible and was rather grubby-looking, but maybe he was betting on my weight and size, I don’t know).

Ah well… I think it’s time for me to find a Pizza Hut, as I’m dizzy and feeling out of it. I am gonna sleep sooooooo well tonight. Tomorrow evening I return to Delhi and Ritu and John’s home. Shoot, I need to find some nice little thing for Koko—I’ve given up on finding anything nice in India for Ritu and John, but when I get back to Korea I have a good idea of what will go back to them in a nice heavy box. They’ve showed me astounding hospitality and kindness.

Oh, Ritu: story crit’s done. Most of what I say is a reiteration of what I said when I read the first few pages, but I’ve written up a little crit and so on, and marked it up. Will look at it again tonight, before sleeping…

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