Agra and the Epic Fleecing

Front edifice of Taj Mahal at dawn.

Picturesqueness cribbed from Ty, co-traveller extraordinaire.

The train shook. It was our first journey on the pale blue locomotives through India, and despite dire warnings about the sleeper class, it was not really that bad. Perhaps our expectations were lowered from the multitude of horror stories, from the purported sureness of being robbed and murdered in our sleep. With these things weighing upon us, the surprisingly strong metallic slats seemed like positive luxury, and after wedging ourselves comfortably atop our bags to fend off what we were told was to be a constant barrage of thieves and sleep-gropers, we managed to drug ourselves into glorious unconsciousness.

Our only problem with the train system involved knowing when to disembark. Our train glided through stations and stops and towns regularly, arriving in a hush and departing again in a whisper, with never an announcement of our current location, our eventual destination, or whether we were technically still within Indian borders. Despite the lack of clear delineation of our current place in time and the world, the Indian commuters and travellers seemed to have absolutely no difficulty recognizing local landmarks, even 10 hours deep into the ride, even in the middle of thunderstorms at midnight. Regularly, without us even knowing that the train was likely to stop, people would suddenly evaporate from their seats in puffs of smoke and otherworldly mystery. We rode into town on a train full of ghosts.

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