BootsnAll Travel Network

Holy Culture Shock

Hi all. Taking a little time today to fill you in on what Toni and I have been up to. The days are so full that it’s hard to remember all the details. I’ll do my best for you though, readers. I’ll cast my mind back now to two weeks ago, when I was an India virgin. Arrived in Delhi at around 5am and got a “pre-paid” taxi from the airport to the hotel, because if you take a regular one they try to rip you off. Remember that theme, people, because it’s constant. Got to the hotel around 6am and woke up Toni, had a little catch-up, went back to sleepie.

Day 1: We emerged from the hotel, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and faced: utter pandemonium. “Traffic” doesn’t even begin to cover it. A small sample of what you may find on a Delhi street: cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, pigs, oxen – your basic barnyard family, plus monkeys – pedestrians, beggars, touts, dogs, street vendors, cars, bicycles, motorbikes, bicycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, rubbish, waste from all the previously mentioned animals and people, etc. etc. etc. We wanted to find some place for breakie, but instead found a very helpful auto rickshaw driver who took us to a restaurant for the low, low fare of 5 rupees. Now, not having a guidebook yet, we had no idea that the ride should have cost around 30 rupees. Our driver waited for us during breakie and then, so kindly, took us to the “official” tourism office. Here began attempted scam #1, where we were subjected to a hard-sell, and told that every single train leaving Delhi to the places we wanted to go was full for the next two weeks, but they could book us a mini-bus tour for the low, low price of 275 pounds. Right. When we balked, the price suddenly dropped, but when we said, well, we think we’d like to GO to the train station ourselves, the man got pretty belligerent, “Oh, you think I’m lying??” No dude, we KNOW you’re lying.

We escaped and asked our faithful rickshaw driver, who was working on commission for that travel agency of course, to take us to the train station. We soon realized that we had been subjected to one of the classic India scams. Determined to find our own way, it still took us most of the rest of the day to even find the correct office to purchase our train tickets, as our disgruntled driver had purposely taken us to the wrong train station. Upon entering the wrong station, we were given directions to the wrong tourist office, but at least the dude in there was honest enough to tell us we were in the wrong place – we were so grateful we booked a day tour for the next day. Finally around 3pm, we found the correct office, which is located in the main Delhi train station. Even in the courtyard of the station though, we literally had to fend off guys telling us the office was “closed, moved, renovated, burned down, etc.” and trying to redirect us to the “real” office. Another almost-confrontation ensued when I questioned the truthfulness of one of these helpful men. “Excuse me, ma’am, do you think I’m lying?” That’s balls, man, lying to someone, and then getting upset with them for noticing. Anyway, we found the office and booked ourselves on the night train to Varanasi, the spiritual heart of Hinduism, where many people go to die and be cremated along the Ganges. More on Varanasi later. Day one came to a close with a much-needed beer at a rooftop hotel on the Main Bazaar street, and a rickshaw ride home which should have cost 15 rupees but for which we were charged 40. Wise to the scam by now, we paid him 20 and high-tailed it into the hotel. That, dear readers, was Day One. Okay, off to check out the fort here in Jodpur. Will blog more when I’m alone and Toni isn’t sitting here waiting for me to get done. Love youse!


-11 responses to “Holy Culture Shock”

  1. Dane says:

    Sounds like all I expected it to be on first impressions! Keep writing!

  2. Janet says:

    Goodness Becky!

    India sounds insane. Please be safe (I’ll play a pseudo mom). It does sound like India is an adrenaline rush/crazy environment. I’m reading your blog and posting more, so keep writing!


  3. Amy Maurer says:

    Glad to hear you’re wise to the scam artists now… holy mother of Pete that sounds like an exhausting day! I bet it’s nice to have Toni there to commiserate with after being solo for so long though.
    How’s the food?
    Still digging reading about your adventures, can’t wait for “Day Two”! 😉

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