Ricard and I hurry through breakfast so that we have time to and get a shave at the barber shop before the bus leaves. The shop is actually full when we get there (at 8 o’clock) but they are eager to let us cut in line and Ricard gets to go first while I have to wait for the other barber to finish up his current customer. They start out by washing his face putting a tissue over it and then rubbing off the tissue (no, I don’t have any idea why either), then the rub in some primer oil. And by rub I mean thoroughly massage, this is looking to be more of a facial treatment than a simple shave! Then comes the lathing up with a shaving brush. This takes more or less forever, the guy actually spends more than a minute brushing the same exact spot! Oh well, he then demonstrates that he’s putting in a fresh blade and also sprays the knife with iodine, now that’s customer care!
The actual shaving doesn’t take long and by now I’m in the chair as well. After shaving is done, moisturizer is applied (two different kinds) followed by some more massage. And just when you think it’s over the guy pulls out what looks like a power drill! “Massage” he says and turns the hellish device to work, vibrating Ricards face to mush. The massage bit of the machine is too large to fit inside the ear but that is no problem, he just jams a finger in there and then puts the machine against the finger to transfer the vibration inside the ear! Odd to say the least, but veeery nice.
Ricard pays while they’re finishing up with me and it’s 300 rupees (50 sek) for the both of us, I fail to see a reason to shave on my own when it’s this cheap to get pampered for half an hour! In the end we’re fifteen minutes late for the bus, but since we’d let Maria know where we were it wasn’t that big a deal.
The roads leading to Agra are awesomely crappy and I’m almost thrown out of my seat several times. I sit next to Håkan today and it turns out we have a shared interest in all the Indian ingenuity when it comes to abusing technology. We’re constantly photographing trucks carrying three times the load they were designed for, repair shops, those awesome cars that are basically a bottenplatta with an engine block and a steering column. Håkan puts it best when saying “It’s like if you took all the technologies invented since ancient times and put them to work alongside each other”. As an example of this we pass a construction site where they’re building a temple and they are using a sort of pulley mechanism to get stuff up to the second floor, more or less just the way the Egyptians would’ve done it…
Since Håkan seems to know a thing or two about cars I ask him why the bus is so darn slow. He says that the engine is simply underpowered, which is why it’s so hard to get it started rolling in first gear and why it takes almost a kilometer of straight road before you’re up to 100 km/h (which hardly exists in India).
After a while large brick towers start popping up in the distance. Håkan asks me if I know what they are and goes on to explain that they are the chimneys of brick factories. The very large chimneys are needed to create the high temperatures required for making bricks. Another example of the technological melting pot of India since they look exactly as they would’ve in medieval times in Europe.
We pull into Agra in the late afternoon to Grand Hotel Agra, a somewhat fancy hotel actually. Me and Ricard tag along as the girls go to the market. We were prepared for the worst when it came to Agra because everyone says that Agra is among the worst places in all of India salesman-wise. But we were pleasantly surprised as the market wasn’t bad at all, I even bought some cloth. Later at dinner the fancy hotel doesn’t look all that fancy anymore as the power goes out about 10 times in short intervals. Indian tech at work! Sara also shows her morbid side by laughing hard at my story about when my cousin had to clean up after a woman placed herself in front of a train…