May 18:  Agra to Orchha


Up 6:30am.  We were supposed to leave at 7am but neither Varun nor the desk had Janie's passport.  She insisted that she didn't get it back and it was kind of a scary period, but Kristal chimed in with a vivid memory of Janie getting it back, so Janie looked in her big bag where she wouldn't have put it, and there it was.  This made us only 15 minutes late.  We got to the train station at 7:30am.

Most of our group at the train station.  Train left at 8am, or maybe 8:15am.

Evidently a few people in the group didn't sleep much last night because another Gap group in the hotel was partying loudly.

I noticed two mosquito bites on my legs a couple days ago, but now I had a lot more.  Hopefully there's malaria in one of them, because I could really really use a couple months off from work.  I didn't take malaria pills and neither did Elana, because (1) we weren't in areas where malaria was prevalent, (2) malaria is treatable, and (3) malaria pills produce unforgettable nightmares, and I have enough going on in my head as it is.

We arrived at the Jhansi train station at 11am, then took 6-person tuk-tuks to our resort in Orchha.  Nicest hotel of the trip, with a pool.  The doormen were extremely impressed by my Rajasthani hat.  One of them tried it on.  The itinerary said we were supposed to stay in tents, but since it was low season and the place was deserted, and because the tents were so hot, Varun switched us to actual rooms.  This was a bonus for me and Karen because we'd paid for single rooms and the tent night was supposed to be an exception, but now we had them.  Someone said the temperature on our arrival was 47C (117F), which would tie my 2nd-highest ever (118F in Luxor, 117F in Baker, 113F in LA last year), but I think Megan said the next day that the official high in Jhansi was only 42C (108F).

Lunch was at the hotel, and Orchha is a vegetarian city, so the menu wasn't appealing.  Half the group got egg fried rice, which was one of 3-4 things noted as "non-veg".  I also had mulliga...tawny for the first time, and a Sandpiper beer.  Jane said she saw the "biggest ass spider" in her room, and we wondered what an "ass spider" was until figuring out that she meant the superlative of "big-ass spider".  I noted that I was down to Rs 3,100 out of my original Rs 9,600.  India is not cheap.  Beers in restaurants start at Rs 180.  Maybe Varun is steering us toward more expensive places that cater to tourists.  Gap likes to help out the local economies, and I supposed this is an honorable way of doing it.  At lunch we placed our order with Varun for liquor for tonight's pool party.  We were checking out at 10am the next morning, so we didn't have to worry about sleep tonight.

After lunch we were in the pool for a couple hours, playing various ball games with some Indian boy.  Despite the temperature, I was still chilly when I got out of the pool, so I laid down to tan and dry off.  Once I was dry, the heat took over and I left at 4:15pm.  Noticed in the room that my chest got some color, which is good.

I took a nap at 4:30pm and set my alarm for 6pm, but missed it for some reason and woke at 6:48pm with no time to shave or shower, although the pool sort of took care of the latter.  Also my watch said it was Tuesday the 18th (it was Wednesday the 18th) so I was disoriented for a bit.  Something with the time zones confused my watch.

At 8:15pmish we went to the Rama temple ceremony.  Had to take off my leather belt before entering.  Dull.  We waited in line to get holy water dumped in our hands, which I think we were supposed to drink, but I spilled mine.  Janie skipped this and I should have too, for similar and different reasons.

Dinner was at Ram Raja (recommended by Lonely Planet, though not by me on account of poor service), where we'd stored our bags for the temple visit.

Menu.  Soft Drink.  Cock.  I ordered a Coke but it took forever to get, and since the others had broken open the liquor, I started on the dark rum.

This was my nickname at Howard University.  (Pretend I didn't mention La Salle earlier.)

Yeah, the volume that appears to have been consumed here was all in my belly.

For food I had a capsicum/mushroom/onion pizza.  It was good, but apparently capsicum means non-spicy bell peppers, and not capsaicin-containing chili peppers.  I wasn't hungry so I ate half the pizza.  There was a power failure during dinner.  We'd had a few in prior cities, and the lights in my Orchha hotel room were flickering.  Taking my flashlight to the pool later.  (Again, tapping my head.)

I ended up having (by my estimate) 12 shots of rum at dinner.

A restaurant employee sketched this.  I think it's supposed to be me on the right, the way I look with 12 shots of rum in me, and Karen on the left nagging me.

On the way back to the hotel I fell behind the group because I was trying to use an ATM, and then I encountered two cows, and tried to interact with them and take photos, but they both put their heads down which I took as a sign of aggression, so I bailed.  I caught up with the group and a dog came toward us in attack mode.  Gabi:  "Are you scared?"  Me:  "NO!"  Of course I was momentarily.

Back at the hotel 11:15pm.  We planned to hang out at the pool, but the first rain of the trip changed that plan, so we drank in the lobby.  After 3 more shots I caved and went outside to try to remember my standup material and pick a few suitable bits.  Then I took the "stage" and my mouth just could not get any of the words out, so I abandoned the effort, though not without the traditional chrisputro.com plug at the end.  That performance does not count in my standup history.

Before I left, Varun let me use his laptop, and I thought I wasn't successful at logging into Facebook or my e-mail.

No idea what time I went to bed.  That's the sign of a good night.


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