Mughal Sarai Junction, India 3/5/2016

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spent an eternity down at mughal sarai junction
hotel got us there an hour & a half early
on a hell ride banzai taxi service but
no matter
when we finally weave our way through the ins & outs of
the station tracks
we find that our train’s been delayed nine hours
nine hours! they say
we ramble about
back to the front where we attempt tickets to agra on
the next train out amongst the sleeping station folk
but no avail
we wander up to comesun festival market
“refuel & go” the slogan reads
but we’ve nowhere to get
so we
sit down for the long wait
in the dusty dingy restaurant area
eat some potato parathas &
chana masala
catch some zzz’s on the screeching metal chairs
under the cooing pigeons
no such luck as we’re soon awakened.
cards, it is
so cards we play
for hours & hours
awaiting our train
the train never comes
so we wait & wait
out to the hotel raj
to see about a room
no soap
the streets are alive
with vegetable vendors
peppers & oranges & grapes
markets & shops full of
chai and curries & potato chips
but the hotels are all booked up
back to the station & we wait & wait
a 5:30 arrival turns to 9
9 turns to 11 or twelve if that.
we plan our escape
but even that is foiled
when we can’t find a cab
to take us where we want to go
for the right price.
seems the political rally has created havoc
we wait some more
the sun sets down over the station house
settle on a taxi at 1000 rupees to take us to assi ghat
through the dusty dusky countryside we go
dodging buses & tuks tuks
out on the highway
soon come across a traffic jam
trucks stacked up in a construction zone
that’s when our cabbie decides to cross to the other lane
the oncoming lane of the highway !
now this is a strategy we’ve not yet seen
a bold one at best, a deadly one at worst
we zip along hugging the shoulder
dodging oncoming trucks & buses
into a blaze of oncoming headlights & horns
there are other cars with us
ahead & behind
after awhile we pass the worst of the traffic
& our driver’s got a chance to get back over
but no sir
on we go
hurtling into the oncoming void
forging into the speeding metallic
out on a four lane bridge high up over the ganges
we’ve created a traffic jam of our own
on the wrong side of the highway
that’s when the bus ahead of us drives back over the median
another bus follows
jumping & jiving
we follow suit
back to safety
of some degree
we cheer & clap
calamity somehow averted
over the ganges & into the
wedding festival streets of varanasi we spree
horns & mopeds & tuks tuks galore
dropped at raucous & bustling assi ghat
we negotiate a tuk tuk on to the burning ghats for 100 rupees more
zip through the storied streets
past shops & islamic speeches
political rallies &
a hundred indian restaurants
driver pets his green bird as we jilt along
drops us as close as we can get
weave through alleys past bangles &
shiva temples
cows & dogs & pakora friers
back to whence we came
sri omskar palace by the ganges
happy to have made it back
cold kingfisher beer is in order

 

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