It is Diwali in India. This festival is as big as Christmas for Hindus. It has been building every day as the firecrackers, both in size and frequency have been growing daily. It will pinnacle in two days. So like holiday travelers everywhere people are travelling to be with family. At the Delhi train station we appear to be the only foreign travelers. Although with the crowds, perhaps there are others boarding what looks to be a train a half kilometer long. Each seat is full. This was not the time to have taken second class “steerage”. We are in second class sleeper which has 8 designated seats in each compartment.
The trains are very well organized, although sometimes running slow. Ours is only a short journey to Agra. Best to see the Taj Mahal before we dive into the vagrancies of Indian Travel. Since its a Muslim building and since it is the Divali weekend perhaps the crowds will not overpower the site. We plan to overnight and see the Taj Mahal in the morning which is best for light, temperature and hopefully before the hoards of people arrive.
At the train station, an old woman begging is insistent that I give her her my shoes. They of course would look like clown’s shoes on her tiny feet. The situation amuses the nearby Indians, more than us. We just wish she would move on–but she kept on and had the tenacity to keep asking at the window while we were waiting for the train to leave. I guess her system must work sometimes. I do notice that despite Divali, it does not translate to great outpouring of support for the poor people. it is perhaps overwhelming.
Our estimated speed is about 40 kilometers–but that is 10 times faster than the stalled walking pace in Delhi. Movement brings a sense of relief. Delhi is behind us; Agra is ahead of us. The train is slowly picking up and we are moving.