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Rickshaw Driving Lesson

Wednesday, July 31st, 2002

After dinner, Bob entertains the nearby date sellers by dickering with another rickshaw driver who makes the mistake of saying to Bob “You are rich man-why can’t you give me few extra rupees?” Bob shot back that “I have traveled all the way to India and now you guys have all my rupees!” He laughs. They think you are stupid if you don’t bargain hard.

They settle on a price and on the way home Bob is full of questions about the auto-rickshaw which is a three-wheeled device powered by a two-stroke motorcycle engine with a driver up front and seats for two or more behind. There are no doors and it has just a canvas top. They are generally about half the price of a taxi and because of their size they are often faster for short trips. And if you are a thrillseeker you will love it because their drivers are nutty–heading straight through the mass of cars and pedestrians wielding hair-raising near-misses! When stopped at traffic lights, the height you are sitting is the same as most bus and truck exhaust pipes so many riders wear kerchiefs over nose and mouth looking ridiculously like movie-western cowboys. Bob wheedles a chance to drive our rickshaw a short distance. Bob and the driver end up friends and the guy gets a tip for the driving lesson.

At 5am the next morning an auto-rickshaw driver offers to drive us 3 blocks to the train station for 20 rupees. After we are seated he says “20 rupees each!” Should have seen how fast Bob jumped out of the rickshaw! We don’t feel like cheapskates anymore as this style of bargaining is the norm in India and many other countries-the locals see you as ridiculous or naive if you do not bargain.

The internal struggle is over for me. The guilt is gone. I don’t even notice the beggar lady pulling on my arm. We are finally getting the hang of India and learning how to play their game. And I think we’re entering the last stages of culture shock. But haven’t had the courage to taste a “bhang lassi” yet! (A bhang lassi is a yogurt drink spiked with marijuana…)

Death of the Vice President

Tuesday, July 30th, 2002

Saturday morning the revered Vice President of India, Krishan Kant had had a massive heart attack and died so Sunday afternoon Bob and I watched the building of the funeral pyre on national television. “Tears trickled down the cheeks of Satyawati Devi, Kant’s shriveled 97 year old mother’s face as she watched her grandson light the pyre,” the next day’s paper reported.

Surface Culture

Tuesday, July 30th, 2002
India's spirituality is strong and is seemingly integrated with it�s culture. So this is the first country we have been in that has resisted becoming least on the big time make-up, no dark glasses, no T shirts, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bargaining for a Rickshaw

Tuesday, July 30th, 2002
Our last night in Delhi before taking the train to a cooler Shimla in the mountains for a few days, we strike out in the worst part of the day for traffic to have dinner in Old Delhi. Bob ... [Continue reading this entry]

Traveling India Bob-Style

Saturday, July 27th, 2002
The Indians have a wonderful sense of humor so Bob takes advantage of it and manages to turn everything upside down wherever we go. In addition to an auto-rickshaw, India has bicycle rickshaws-a three-wheeler bicycle with a seat for ... [Continue reading this entry]

Ghandi-India To So Africa

Thursday, July 18th, 2002
In my last story, I mistakenly said that Gandi was born in South Africa. He was not. He was born in 1869 in Porbander in the Indian state of Gujarat where his father was chief minister. He attended law ... [Continue reading this entry]