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(India: Agra)

India: Agra: Courthouse

At the train station in Delhi we were waylaid by a tout, who convinced us to hire a driver to take us to Agra and then back a couple days later. In a country of eclectic driving tactics, our chauffeur was one of the weirdest of the bunch. He puttered along at about half the speed of the other traffic, and yet managed to make the experience more frightening than if he had been driving blindfolded down the wrong side of the road at 200 mph. No obstacle was too large and imposing to be veered towards, no pothole too far out of the way to be driven over. His sullen commentary ignored temples and wedding ceremonies but highlighted each petrol station and dead cow we passed.

On the way back, we came across a police roadblock for emissions testing. Belching 40-year-old smokebombs were briefly examined and allowed to pass, but our late-model minivan failed just about exactly the same time our suddenly energized driver started yelling to the police about how important he and his passengers were.

We were all hauled off to the local court facility you see in the picture above. As bewildered foreigners, it was clear that we'd suffered enough, but our driver had to appear before a judge and pay a fine. While we were waiting for justice to be served, we wandered around this fascinating place. Lawyers worked the crowd to drum up business, and typists-for-hire prepared their documents. Every once in a while the police would drag someone down the dusty pathway, kicking and screaming.

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