Loving the train station bustle in Agra, India
This is part 6 of an ongoing post about my trip to India and Singapore. The previous post is
The train to Agra, India – comfort, beauty and poverty.
When we last left off in India, I had just arrived at the Agra Cantt Station after a 2 hour trip on the Shatabdi Express Train from New Delhi. Train travel seems a bit old-fashioned, especially in the United States but it is a fantastic way to travel. For shorter trips under 3 hours, you usually get to your destination faster than on a plane. You also get to see the countryside and you don't have all the security screening hassles that makes plane travel less pleasant. On these long haul trains, it seems like a more civilized way to travel. I also like train stations. Unlike airports where you are many layers aways from the plane, at the station you get to see and feel the emotions of arrival and departure. You can greet people as they get off the train. You can see their faces through the window as the train departs. There is more of a human connection.
I’ve travelled to Japan recently and took the train extensively. And while the trains in Japan are newer and more sleek, the human emotions in and around the train station are the same as in India. There is a bustle of activity as the train arrives. There are vendors selling food on the platforms and there are restaurants where people can eat and wait. The drama of life unfolds in front of you and it is a fantastic place to take photographs.
I arrived in Agra, still early in the morning, after only a couple of hours sleep. I wasn’t in my fully warmed up street photography mode but I managed to capture some images of the place. I could have easily spent an hour here just shooting but I needed to meet my tour guide for my quick but location packed tour of Agra. My favorite scene, the red and blacked uniformed porters unloading suit cases. I didn’t see porters like this on the bullet trains in Japan. Perhaps the Japanese people took shorter trips or packed lighter but I didn’t see the piles of luggage like I saw at Agra. These porters remind me of old black and white movies I’ve seen, filmed before the advent of commercial airline travel; the golden age of train travel in the U.S. where well dressed men and women travelled in style through grand Beaux Arts stations. Those days are long gone in the U.S. but for a moment, my mind made a cognitive connection to this scene at Agra station.
Soon as I got off the train, the food carts attracted my attention; these colorful and worn carts that sell all matter of foodstuffs for travelers. In India, I feel like there are so many more micro businesses where people trying to eke out a living in this crowded country. The carts look home-grown and unique. They don’t have the corporate conformity and the chain store look that you see in Japan or in America. The well used and different makes for more exciting photos, I think, compared to new and similar. On the second cart I spotted some wonderfully rich colored fruit and had to take a closeup. They had that exotic feel that looked different. And different is what I seek in travel photography. The light was great and I got a rich colored still life. I didn’t know what this fruit was called but I asked a friend who said it’s RasBhari.
Within a few minutes, the bags were unloaded, the arriving passengers dispersed and the train was loading a new set of travelers . I didn’t see my Agra tour guide in the shuffle so I was off to look for a man with a sign with my name on it. it was 8:30 in the morning and I was about to start an action packed day in Agra.
This post is part 6 of my travels to India and Singapore, Start from the beginning at, Quite possibly a trip of a lifetime and part 5, The train to Agra, India – comfort, beauty and poverty. Continue the story with part 7 Agra by car, a big part of the fun.
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See more images from India on mostlyfotos, my one photograph per day photo blog.