The previous night at The Essentia Hotel proved to be one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in (£44 in booking.com when passing by Indore - I’ll be back). I normally stay in hostel dorms of lower grade Indian 2 star forgettable but this was a treat and a very lucky find. I had the buffet:
Fish and Corn salad
Chicken roasted carrot
Baked zucchini with pesto
Artichoke and chutney
Balsamic marinated mushrooms with feta
Yep I had the lot, and for mains:
Slow roasted chicken with herb jus
Fried chicken in ginger sauce
Drumstick fish curry
£14 and stuffed as a dead parrot I waddled off to bed.
My Hotels are Not Always like this - but Sometimes They Are
The next morning I had no space in my body for more food so set on my days jolly and after two hours riding into a pleasantly cool crosswind and where I turn right on the 52 for Agra stopped at a busy café which was quintessentially upper working class bordering on lower middle class - Indians like these demarkations. And the difference is….? Well in an Indian context the absence of paan stains on the floor gave it a status of being something more than rural, a step up from what it would have been a few years ago. Floors were brush swept, packaged items, crisps and savoury snacks stored in closed cupboards and sweets we’re displayed in glass cabinets protected from flies. Adjacent was the worst fountain I’ve ever seen in the world and should be given heritage status and maintained as a monument of contemporary grossness.
Around the corner and back on Highway 52 I saw a parade of camels
and led by a woman. Are they the Lost Nomads of Thar in Rajasthan? Camel dung is sought after so the camels are invited by the farmers to nibble the end roots of a freshly harvested crop and now the herders have to walk further to find pasture, sometimes as far south as Madhya Pradesh through which highway 52 passes.
Arriving in Agar, I was well into rural India. Off the main highway and into a town no tourist would ever visit unless like me they stumbled on it and it was nice. India is friendly and safe but you've got to know how to do the travelling properly. I've travelled everywhere over 20 times and I'm just getting the real feel now.
Riding into Agar
Map of the Day
Scene Where I Stopped
40 years ago you couldn't stop anywhere without being surrounded by people begging. It had to be seen to be believed. It was awful. It was very sad. I saw one middle class India father spit at a beggar in front of his son, the green excrement dribbling down the little girls torn and dirty dress. It was heart breaking to see and India and Indians should be ashamed of that memory. There are still poor slum areas but I've seen very few. No beggars, money has filtered down and in the countryside, agriculteralists are actually building their own houses, stacks of bricks in a pile on their plots of land. it's better. India is in much better shape. It's good to see. But I stopped to see this as a reminder that the job hasn't yet been completed.