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…)
Tags: Culture, Dual Pricing, Food, India, New Delhi, Rickshaws, Touching Experiences, Transportation