It was Saturday night, we had just arrived at Agra Fort train station to chaos. The station floor resembled a bomb shelter or community safe house. There were bodies everywhere. Entire families bedded down on the cold hard floor, luggage sprawled everywhere around them.
Our train to Varanasi was delayed 8.5hrs. By the looks of things I’ll take a stab in the dark and say ours wasn’t the only one.
We walked to a nearby hotel – no rooms. We sat in the bar – no card machine.
We had seen a queue outside an ATM on the way to the station so given our current situation we had all the time in the world to queue in the hope of getting some cash. Well, we had til 4am.
We hailed down an auto rickshaw. As soon as we got in some guy tried to jump in the front seat, the drivers reaction was to swerve and drive full speed in the direction of oncoming traffic. He slammed on his brakes as pedestrians crossing the road hit the front of his auto, not hard but there was contact. He reversed and slammed his foot on the accelerator, weaving in and out of traffic travelling in both directions.
“OMG this guy is DRUNK”, I scream. I couldn’t help myself. I like to think I’m quite chilled and shock free at anything Asia has to hit me with but this time I was sure I was going to die.
“He’s smashed out of his face”, I said as my grip tightened on the metal bar separating our seats with the drivers. To be fair to the guy, for a drunk driver he was doing pretty well so far.
We approached the golf course quicker than we’d ever gotten anywhere in India before and shouted over drop us here. He whizzes around the corner cutting up three lanes of moving cars whilst we screech ‘STOP’ at the top of our lungs.
He swings into a dark and dingey side street 5 minutes past our required location and halts abruptly. Eight guys surround the car. This is it I thought. First they’ll take our luggage then I’ll be sold into sex trafficking.
We got out of the auto, the driver leant over his vehicle arms stretched out upon the roof, sweat dripped from his brow. He was a chunky guy. He didn’t even look at us.
“My problem”, he finally offers after we cut his asked for fare by 20rps, “Indian police”‘ he follows with.
Great, so we were accessories in a high speed police chase. We will never know what that guy was in trouble for or if the police ever caught up with him, but we did live to tell half the tale.