Prem wasn’t impressed with Fatehpur Sikri. He suggested I skip it. It was right on the way to Agra, and the guidebooks recommended it highly. I decided to see it anyway. I forgot that there are countless movies that the critics rate highly that I can’t stand.
It was interesting, but less impressive than some of the places I’d already seen by this time. The guidebooks have way overhyped it. Prem teased me mercilessly about stopping here, so afterwards I couldn’t let on that I thought he was right.
I didn’t want a guide, but Prem insisted. I only need a guide to shoo the flies away: to keep the touts and others from pestering me while I’m trying to take pictures. I don’t trust most of what they tell me because most of it can’t be verified, and this is a culture where the truth is — well, relative. I don’t really want to hear a lot of bla bla bla because I don’t remember it five minutes later, and it distracts from my picture taking. At Fatehpur, I got the worst guide of the trip.
The guide was a pain-in-the ass Fascist. He droned on and on interminably while he had me nailed to one spot. At the rate he was going, we would have been there all day. I had to tell the guy to move on.
I did not at all care for the way he ordered me around. “MADAM!” He barked as I was trying to take some pictures. “Come over HERE!!!” Well, I wasn’t interested in over THERE, I was interested in something else. I ignored him. Actually, I didn’t ignore him entirely. I had words with him. “I ignored him” is a rather giant euphemism.
Bla, bla, bla, bla, bla. My ears were bleeding. I don’t remember a single thing he said.
There was a temple nearby, but it was getting scorching hot, so I decided to skip it. In front of the temple, there was a spot where shuttles picked up tourists to ferry them a half mile to the parking lot. There was no line for the shuttle, as people in India don’t usually queue up for anything.
When the shuttle came, it quickly filled up. People appeared out of nowhere and piled inside. My pain-in-the-ass guide ordered me to get on it. It was stuffed to the rafters, and I informed him that under no circumstances was I getting on. He said he was going to lodge a complaint with the Tourist Commission. A complaint because the bus was full? Are you kidding me???
After a long wait, a tuk-tuk finally showed up. He didn’t price gouge me, possibly fearing a complaint to the Tourist Commission, so we took the tuk-tuk back to the parking lot where Prem was waiting.
I told him all about my horrible guide. He was very upset, especially the part about the shuttle and waiting so long for the tuk-tuk, and wanted to complain to the Tourist Commission about the guy. I said no, so he immediately got on the phone with Jawahar. I don’t think Namaste India Tours is going to use that guy again.
The worst parts of any trip always end well, because those are the parts you can end up making the funniest travel stories from. There was nothing funny about the best guides I had on this trip. But this Fascist pain-in-the-ass guide will always make me think of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. And that always makes me laugh.