An Italian in India
An Italian in India – Part 7: Delhi to Agra
We left Delhi and the Oberoi Hotel on December 24th. For ten days we were on a minibus travelling from Delhi to Udaipur, visiting Agra, Jaipur, Bundi and the Ratambore National Park.
It was a cold, grey morning in Delhi. The usual traffic jam was gone from the streets, and the city was coming back to life after a long night. What was once the most chaotic conglomerate of cars, honking, moving randomly, filling any available spot, now rested peacefully. A few carts crossed the roads, heading to unimaginable places. Some were moving the gas needed to heat up the buildings, while others piled up metres of food, clothes, and any other saleable goods usually topped by extra passengers, and goats, chickens, dogs, and any other kind of animal.
The highway linking Delhi to Agra is pharaonic, four lanes each way, an opera. A quiet giant stretched along thousands of kilometres of woods and fields, with hills on the landscape. Staring outside the glass for hours, the most amazing hobby was to admire how the huts in the fields changed in their architecture. We travelled the whole morning without seeing another vehicle. Thin winter fog surrounded us. The walls protecting the highway had been left with sporadic open spaces, corresponding to country roads so that the farmers could travel along it with their carts.
Suddenly, they appeared. A car on the left, the lights on, stood perpendicularly to the lane, clearly involved in a car crash. Travelling on, we saw more vehicles in the same condition, but no living beings left behind. The next day we learned from newspapers that sixteen vehicles were involved but that few people had been injured. Crossing the highway’s exit close to Agra, I noticed a public service announcement to warn of drunk driving and the dangers on the road.
We arrived in Agra crossing a bridge over a herd of cows swimming, eating, chilling. A few paved roads, a rural reality, lay far away from the majestic infrastructures enriching the most modern parts of Delhi. Our accommodation was a bed and breakfast in a charming house owned by a local family, which also hosted a British couple and tourists from Austria and Russia.
By Alberto Gouthier
(Image: National Geographic/Prasit Chansareekorn)