25. First Impressions

First Impressions: We welcomed a smooth landing in Delhi, after some fourteen cramped hours in the air over Iceland, Germany and Afghanistan. Customs, easy. Baggage claim, easier. Currency exchange, no problem. Negotiating a midnight taxi ride to our friend’s consular apartment in Central Delhi, oh crap.

Following good advice, we pre-paid for a taxi at one of the government’s airport taxi windows. Hurried into a car through hoards of touts trying to talk us into their “private taxis,” we were treated to a 45-minute white-knuckle dash through midnight gridlock in India’s capital. Our driver was a sleepy madman, more aggressive than a New Yorker stuck in Florida rush hour. Traffic too heavy in our lane? Drive into oncoming traffic for a bit. Someone not letting us merge? Ram him. Twice. We were still laughing at all this, actually, until it became clear to us that our driver had absolutely no idea where he was going. Uh oh.

His English was limited and our understanding of Delhi’s layout was worse, so we may as well have been explaining to him how to make an especially fluffy omelet. He finally mumbled defeat, pulling over to ask an auto-rickshaw driver if he knew how to get to our destination. Though they were speaking in Hindi, it was very clear that the rickshaw driver a) knew how to get to our destination and b) wouldn’t give our driver the directions without compensation. It was 1:00 AM when our driver slunk back to our window. The next five minutes went like this:

Driver: Ok, yes, he takes you to Bhagwandas Road, only 30 rupees!
Amy: But we already paid YOU to take us there.
Driver: Ok, he will take you now, rickshaw, come.
Amy: We’re not getting out of this taxi.
Driver: It’s ok, only 30 rupees!
Amy: We’re not getting out of this taxi.
(repeat entire exchange three more times)

In the end, we got in the rickshaw, because 30 rupees is about 67 cents and 1:00 AM felt like a bazillion AM after a fourteen hour plane ride. We woke up in India on Saturday feeling ambitious enough to tackle more rickshaws and Connaught Place, Central Delhi’s largest shopping and leering district. Amy’s going to have some things to say soon about all of the man-stares she’s already enduring, oh yes she is.

 

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hot damn, I love it. You got the hero’s welcome into the international world. The ramming part is my favorite, effective tactic I must say.

    Blame the “D’s” Amy for the stares. hhahaha, and those bare arms, racy!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love it! That is the international welcome to our country, sure we’ll take you anywhere you want, but we have no idea how to get there and that will cost YOU more. My favorite is the ramming part. Oh, I could imagine the both of you in that moment.

    Miss you more socks miss feet.

    (PS I think the creation of Shelly anniversary is coming up. Donald and Sheila will be missed.)

  3. Ching says:

    HaHa, same situation when I was there! What an experience!

  4. Anonymous says:

    i look foreward to seeing if amy comes back more humble or madder than hell
    love
    j

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don and I were just in Brazil and can understand your taxi situation. Our driver did not ram the car in front of him, but he was only a nosehair away from the bumper most of the time. One of the taxi drivers kept yelling out the window to everyone laughing. We think he was telling everyone that he was taking some tourists for a ride.

    One thing I don’t miss about the trip – definitely the taxi rides.

    We love reading about your trip.

    Be safe.

    - Denise