He said he was one of only forty government guides in all of India. We felt very confident with him as he led us through the crowded passageways that took us to the Taj.
We didn't see any monkeys at the hotel we were staying at but did see a peacock up in a nearby tree. They have a very distinctive and very loud call and added to the ambiance of the exotic land we were enjoying.
A couple of days in Jaipur was all we had scheduled and all we really needed. We had a flight out of Delhi booked in a couple of days, so with Kedar behind the wheel, we headed in the direction of the Indian capital.
After seeing so many great sights the previous few days, we decided to take it easy our final day in Delhi. We had the services of Kedar for that day, and since our flight left at 5am the next morning, we had decided to forego the expense of a hotel room that we would have to leave at around 1am. So the plan was to go to a place that Ben had found online that sold Bugattis and Lamborghinis, and also make a quick visit to Old Delhi.
The salesman at the car dealership was very friendly and accommodating when we walked through the door and explained our story and that we just wanted to see what they had in stock.
Ben was thrilled to see a Lamborghini Adventator up close but was disappointed to be told that the Bugatti had been sold a few weeks back. The salesman also told us about a Ferrari dealer not too far away, so we decided to point our expedition in that direction.
We'll press "pause" on the proceedings for a moment for a question of you, dear reader. Have you ever seen a tree in the middle of a parking lot that didn't have some sort of barrier around it so that, say a tour driver with some people from the States on board didn't back right into it? Neither had we until we heard and felt a large crash as Kedar scored a direct hit on the tree.
Apparently the black sun shades in the back windows prevented him from being able to see the tree. The impact completely shattered the window and left a pretty good dent in the back door. You could tell the Kedar felt terrible about what happened, but we felt even worse when he said a different driver would be coming with a new van and that our time with him was done.
That news was a serious body blow for us. We didn't realize how much we liked having Kedar be part of our India experience until we found out our time with hime was done. He was a comforting security blanket in a country that can be a bit daunting to navigate. His driving skills were excellent, and we always felt like he was Allstate for us. Once we lost him, we lost much of our enthusiasm for the India portion of the proceedings.
Our new driver, J.P. smashed into a motorcyclist within about five minutes of taking over for Kedar, leading to shouts and shaking fists. He was nice enough but we had absolutely no karma with him. He drove us through Old Delhi, which was very interesting.
We also made a quick stop at the Ghandi memorial. It's for Mahatma, Indira and Rajiv. Our focus was on the Mahatma portion which gave us more of a sense of peace after our disappointing farewell to Kedar.
India, as much as, if not more than any other stop on our trip has left an indelible impression on us. As Paul Theroux writes, in India "the miracle…was that India was not a country but a creature, like a monstrous body crawling with smaller creatures pestilential with people – a big, horrific being, sometimes angry and loud, sometimes passive and stinking, always hostile, even dangerous." That sums it up fairly well, even if I have no idea what pestilential means, it probably has something to do with pestilence, which I'm pretty sure we saw more than once there. However, I have to say that Indian people were very friendly to us, and even with the abject poverty in full view at almost every turn, are very proud of their country.
India was a perfect closer for our time in Asia. It's a complicated, thrilling, enthralling, intimidating and spectacular place. Our trip would not be complete without a stop there. It's a stop I'm very glad we made.