My driver was an incredibly calm driver for being an Indian. He hardly every honked, he used the blinkers, he stuck to the speed limit and he didn’t seem to be at all irritated with those who showed irresponsible behaviour on the road (and there quite a few of those). He was friendly but a little shy, not a very talkative man. When he said something, it was sure to be important. I therefore took due note when he informed me that we would be driving on the National Highway 3, NH 3 for short, from Agra to Gwalior. It is the highway linking Agra with Mumbai, and thus a vital component of the transport infrastructure.
It was a busy road, with the usual mix of cars, trucks, motorbikes, cows, buses, cyclists and pedestrians. It was only very occasionally that someone came towards us, using the wrong side of the road. We made good progress, and there was good hope that we would arrive in Gwalior in good time for lunch.
I was wrong.
Agra is in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, but the road also runs through a corner of Rajasthan, so there were two state borders to cross. The driver got out of the car at the Rajasthan border, with all his paperwork in good order. I waited. He didn’t come back. I got out of the car and looked around for interesting photo opportunities, just to pass the time. There weren’t any. You can see how boring it looked.
When the driver finally returned to the car, he told me that the delay was due neither to a long queue nor to an administrative hiccup: the border office had simply been unmanned. When the official finally appeared, the formalities had been promptly dealt with.
At the next border point I was prepared for another long and uninteresting wait. This time I was surrounded by photo opportunities though, and wouldn’t at all have minded half an hour or so in the company of my camera (although I was getting rather hungry). However, here things were more efficient and the paper work quite swiftly done. A quick documentation of the surroundings gave the following result:
We arrived at the hotel in Gwalior five minutes before the restaurant would close. As the lady in reception said: “There is plenty of time”. Yes, of course. No hurry, no worry, but I did have a curry (see blog post “No hurry, no worry, no curry”).