It's really nice to be back in India, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the warmth again. Actually, that's an understatement. It's pretty hot here now. Rajasthan does at least have a dry heat. Uttar Pradesh is a bit more humid. In fact, there was thunder and a sprinkling of rain in Agra.
Those who've been to India will appreciate what it's like to walk along a road. There's usually no pavement, and you weave your way around parked vehicles and other pedestrians on the edge of the road as cars, trucks, auto rickshaws, cycle ones and motorbikes make their way past in random directions, all blasting their horns and just managing not to collide with anything. It's dusty and loud; smelly too if you pass a pile of decaying rubbish or somewhere that's been used as an open public toilet. Oh, and then there are the cows just wandering around eating anything they find.
I was in Jaipur and Agra last year as well. This is a return trip, because I didn't get to see everything I wanted to last time. Then I was using a crutch and had a brace on my arm as I was recovering from broken bones in my right arm and foot two months previously. This time I was able to get to Amber Fort and return to the Taj Mahal and see the inside properly.
Lots of things are really cheap, including mobile phone services. There is some degree of hassle in getting an Indian sim card, however. If you don't meet all the extreme requirements, your pre-pay number will be cancelled after one week... which means I've got a day or two at the most before my connection is severed.
When I took several trains during my last trip they were regularly delayed by two hours. The train to Agra was pretty much on time, but the one back from there to Jaipur last night was four hours late in arriving ! Perhaps it was because schedules had been disrupted to allow for Commonwealth Games participants to come down from Delhi by train and see the Taj Mahal.
I've had my hair cut today. I'm not convinced it's the best hair cut I ever had. It only cost me $2 (NZ), or nearly £1, and included a vigourous head massage. The main thing is, my hair is shorter. That's good in this 35 degree heat !
The food is fabulous, of course. Lots of healthy vegetarian curries but also more meat available than I remember from last time. I've had a fair bit of chicken. Not sure about the quality of it. The eggs I had on toast the other day had pretty pale looking yolks !