CouchSurf with Jai in Agra

We arrived at Mr Jai’s house around 4pm in the evening, right after we were done with trips with Jabbar and sent back to our hotel to pick up our luggage. It was difficult to take auto-rickshaw that is willing to take us to the address given with reasonable price. They were trying to overcharge us with an excuse today having some festivals around there and not many auto-rickshaws are running. Giving up with the bargain attempt, we agreed with the given price and they brought us to Jai’s apartment directly.

We have not seen many high-rise aparment/ flats in Agra so Jai’s place seems to stand out as a rather high-end residence compared to the community we have seen in the crowded place nearby Taj Mahal. The apartment was gated with security people, and after registering at the security, we called Jai and his daughter Riti came down to take us up.

We were given a neat separate bedroom complete with bathroom. I understand that the room actually belongs to Jai’s son but functioning as guest room sometimes.

To spend the evening, Riti and her friends asked us to play badminton with them at the yard. All of them speak fluent English at young age and we were very impressed. It was great to play bandminton after so long having left it, and the kids playing quite good too! We also talked and asked about Hindi movies and superstars, their school, places they like in India and other stuff. It was fun ;)

Dinner time! We were so delighted to have dinner with the family. Jai and his family are really friendly and treated us like their family members. We expected to eat whatever they eat: vegetarian food. But we were surprised that they tried so hard to accommodate us non-vegetarians with boiled eggs – as if we would die if we dont eat non-vegetarian food! =.= I mean, they shouldn’t have, and it’s unnecessary! We were traveling in other place with other culture and all we love to do is to eat what the local people eat. I mean, when in Rome, do as Romans do. So when in India, eat what Indians eat :P Anyhow, we can’t help but felt touched by their effort, although a bit guilty.

So we can learn by their food, vegetarian people can replace meat-stuff by potato, and also paneer (cheese); like these human-shaped nuggets for example :) We would have thought it’s made of chicken by its taste.. I mean, I had never eaten potato that taste that good! The food we had at Jai’s are all new to us but really yummy!

We had a good chat with Jai and his wife, they shared almost everything we need to know about Agra, and we also shared our incident of being cheated by tout before coming to here. As a newly married couple, we also had among the very best advice from Jai and his wife.. things to keep the relationship at its best. If not because we’re leaving for Delhi tomorrow, Jai would like to bring us at some shops he’s familiar with that sell sarees and kurta that we’re searching for.

The next morning, we woke up to say goodbye to Jai’s family before we left to Agra train station. Riti and Aryan were ready for school in neat uniforms. After quick breakfast, Jai helped us to take auto-rickshaw which will get us to the station directly.

Thank you Jai for the great hospitality and warm welcome! Hope to see you again one day :)

Agra and around

Breakfast: Rs.120

We came back from Taj Mahal around 9.30 and thought of having breakfast. There are many restaurants and cafes located in between small hotels here but it was still hard to choose. All places are quiet. We passed by this Taj Cafe that claims itself to have been recommended by Lonely Planet Book, but were not really impressed. They definitely think that by claiming it out loud that it was featured in Lonely Planet, it would attract more customers.. but we can see that it’s being overused here. In that street there are a number of restaurants displaying the same in their signboards too. On the other hands, I cannot remember our favorite Mughal Darbar restaurant in Srinagar displays something telling that they’re featured in Lonely Planet (despite they really are). Perhaps in Agra especially in this area, all restaurants look almost the same, old, small buildings and not attractive at all, so you have to verbally tell people that you’re special in order to stand out from the rest. And they dont need to know if you’re telling the truth or otherwise :P

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Fatehpur Sikri

How to get there: Go to Agra bus station, and you will find a bus going to Fatehpur Sikri (Rs.30). It takes 1.5 hour though. For faster way, you can take a shared sumo taxi. 
Way back: Shared Tata Sumo taxi Rs.30, auto-rickshaw to hotel Rs.80

Everyone coming to Agra would not miss going to Fatehpur Sikri, for it being a relatively historical monument as Taj Mahal and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it’s located a bit far away from Agra, people do come to here to see such huge structure built in the era without modern machinery. The bus going to Faterpur is regular town bus. So when we  were going, the bus was full of locals, leaving us with another Danish guy to be the only foreigners on board. We chatted with the Danish guy, he was traveling alone and just entered India from Nepal.

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