It was Saturday when we drove from Kanpur to Agra. This stretch of the highway was bloody good, wide and long – we drove real fast and in no time hit Agra.
The good thing about Agra is that, the moment you enter the town, from whichever (high)way, you end up seeing some signage or another, hanging over middle of the road, pointing arrows towards the Taj Mahal. We saw one such signage and headed in the direction of the Taj – none of us had seen it before. On our way to the monument, we took a break for few seconds to quickly check-in an on-route hotel where we could dump our bags. And then – there we were – entering the Taj.
As we stood in the queue, one of those local guides dressed like Mithun from the ninetees asked us if we wanted to skip the queue and directly enter – he said they could manage that. He asked if it was painful for us to stand in the queue and wait for our turn. Do you know what Tiwari told him? He told him – why don’t you think like this – how much more painful it is for those who are standing in the queue only to wait longer in the sun than needed, just because guys like you make people enter directly by breaking the queue? That’s what Tiwari does sometimes, you know – he makes you shut up once and for all. That dude didn’t really know how to beat what Tiwari just said – he just drifted away trying then to target some dumb and weak female firangs. Of course, Agra was full of them – firangs.
So we were inside and there it was – the Taj Mahal – for real. It was too much. Tiwari got extremely hyper and started shooting at the rate of one thousand pics per mili-second. It was hard to believe that something like the fucking Taj Mahal existed for real. We saw it first from a distance – from behind the red-stonnish gate that stood on the east. Then we started walking closer to the Taj – Tiwari never stopping to shoot even for a second. Finally we were touching the monument and all that. My God, it was huge. It was just so big. Once you climbed up the stairs and started walking on the base of the Taj Mahal, it became difficult to see the entire thing in one view – it was that huge. And God, was it beautiful? It was simply too much. shahzahaan did waste loads of bucks on this one – but worth everything.
We adored and adored and then, tired as we were, crashed for a while on the cold marble only to be woken up by some policeman who didn’t quite like the idea of two dirty looking dudes sleeping bang inside the clean Taj.
We spent the whole bloody day there itself – I mean it just wasn’t possible to leave the place till it was time to be kicked out. Tiwari’s train was at 2 in the night so when in the evening we reached a wonderful mall and realized that there was a multiplex there – we took tickets for DevD which turned out to be a very interesting musical – I kind of liked it – it was kind of a must one-time watch you know. The movie got over by 12:30 and by 1 we were at the Agra cantt. station. I was feeling so sleepy – I was kind of cursing that policeman who didn’t let us crash enough in Taj. The bloody train came only at 3 in the morning and then Tiwari left. I didn’t quite like the fact that he left. But he did leave anyway and I was all alone out there in Agra at 3 in the morning.
At about four I left Agra – the bike felt so much light and the heart so much heavy. But after a while, none of that mattered. After a while, what started mattering was that fact that what a holy mistake I had committed by hitting the road without any sleep. I thought that it was remotely impossible to doze off when one was driving a bike oneself. Throughout our bike-trip, during long stretches, we had dozed off for a while, but it had always been when one of us was sitting on the back – the one who drove never really took a nap. So I thought it was impossible and all that for me to feel sleepy if I drove the bike myself. I was wrong. I was so bloody holy wrong and almost killed myself.
Lack of sleep started hitting me like mad. It was dark and all that and I was all alone on the bike – riding on a highway full of heavy vehicles and other such razing moving machines and I was fucking sleeping. I didn’t know what to do. It was frigging cold out there and Agra was past long back and so I couldn’t really stop the bike or anything. Delhi was kilometers away and I had to keep driving. Every once in a while, I would stop by at a tea-shop, crash off after ordering tea and then would be woken up by the chaai-waala who would look at me with weird expressions.
The tea-break would help me for not more than ten minutes because after that I wouldn’t even know when I would fall asleep right there on the highway. I mean, I would be out there on the left side of the road driving slowly and then suddenly I would hear a loud horn and then my eyes would open up and I would find myself on the right end of the road driving at double the speed and before I would realize what just happened, some zombie Scorpio would rush past at 120 and would scare me like mad. That kind of thing was scary – kind of lethal too, you know. That kind of thing would keep me awake for the next ten minutes and then just before I would be about to let the bike roll down the highway to hit the low-lying fields, my eyes would open again and in a dreamish state, I would hit the brake and let myself be saved at the last moment.
guess I was too lucky that in spite of all this foolishness, nothing bad really happened. After many many hours, when I finally got up I was out there at the outskirts of Delhi and then soon back to Neelabh. He was happy to see me back. I was happy I was alive. All I did then was sleep. I slept like mad until Vivek Vineet showed up. He was with Neelabh and me in school – since class IV. We boozed and danced and had cigar and all that. It was a nice, sweet friendly Sunday. It was the end of the bike-trip.
Shit – why did it end?