May 21-22, 2016
We were quoted two different prices for taxis to the train station in Pushkar, 350 and 450 rupees. These prices sounded inflated so we decided to book an Uber instead. On the way to the train station, the Uber driver seemed to be making a not-so-subtle effort to make more money off of our journey--a few minutes into the ride he pulled over and told us he needed to use the bathroom (keep in mind with Uber you pay for distance as well as time spent in the car). When he returned to the car, he commenced driving very slowly. Now, NO ONE in India drives slowly. Cars were honking and passing him…we have never been in a car in India where the driver was not racing to the destination as if to beat every other car on the road in some imaginary race. We actually had to ask him to drive faster.
When we began our ride and told the driver that we were going to the train station in order to take a train to Jaipur he insisted the he take us to Jaipur himself. We firmly said no, but that did not stop him from asking again and telling us that the train would be so hot and that it would be better for us to drive with him. He continued to pick his nose throughout the entire ride. It wasn't until Scott firmly stated, "just take us to the train station" in a firm tone that he stopped trying to sell us on a 2 hour drive to Jaipur.
This Uber situation is just one of many frustrating examples of the countless attempts to con 'us tourists' and make an extra dollar off at our expense. It honestly seems like everyone who talks to us has some ulterior motive or scheme. People will approach us in a friendly way, start casual conversation and then of course, inevitably the conversation will turn into them trying to sell us one thing or another. And no one seems to take no for an answer (the first, second, third or fourth time you say it). They just go on and on, talking and talking and talking and making up lies. It takes an increasing amount of energy to deal with these situations--nothing is straight forward or simple, everything is a fight or a negotiation (maybe Scott was Indian in a previous life). And sometimes after a long day, or just arriving in a new city after a long ride we just want to get in a damn cab and go to our hotel.
Arrival in Jaipur
We arrived in Jaipur and upon stepping off of the train were immediately bombarded by rickshaw driver’s. Again, even after saying no they continued to harass us. We asked several rickshaw drivers outside of the train station for the price of a ride to the post office. However they were all quoting us a higher fare, trying to rip up off. The rickshaw drivers are perhaps the most ruthless of all peddlers. They are constantly screaming to get our attention, honking, flapping their hands in our faces, slowing down when they see us, ripping us off, quoting us exorbitant fares, incessantly asking "where you going" and generally pestering us. The vast majority of them have meters however 'none' of them work and they claim "[they] give us fair price". When we name a price, which we know to be reasonable, they refuse. I don't understand? There are hundreds of rickshaws everywhere and the drivers just nap in them all day. Why do they refuse to work for reasonable prices? It ends up being MUCH cheaper to user Uber. Also Uber is air-conditioned. Beggars shouldn't be choosers was a phrase coined for India.
We ended up finding a bus instead. The bus dropped us off at the general post office, but unfortunately for us, because of a holiday we were unable to send home all of the things we’ve picked up in Rajasthan. I guess we’ll wait to ship them in Mumbai.
We then tried to find a rickshaw to our hotel but even this simple task took longer than either of us would have liked. After 5 minutes of explaining where we needed to go the rickshaw drivers would again try to rip us off so we would have to try to find another driver and spend more time going through the motions of explaining where to go and then negotiating.
We ended up taking a rickshaw from an Afghani who was from Kabul but studying here in India (according to him). He went on and on telling us how the other rickshaw drivers were not right in charging us more and that he didn't care about the money and that he believes in being honest. After this dialogue he went right into trying to sell us on his services to drive us around the city. When we told him that we were tired from traveling all day he told us, "No, I don't think you're tired. It was a short ride only". We then told him "Maybe tomorrow" and he went on to say "I don't believe in maybes". How annoying!
Uber has saved our life...and wallet. Uber drivers also don't try to sell us on more services during the drive either.
McDonald's and a Movie
Now, after being on the road for so long, sometime's there is nothing more exciting than getting a McFlurry and fries at McDonald's before enjoying a hindi movie. Jaipur, much larger than the other cities we've just visited in Rajasthan, actually has a McDonald's, much to our delight. No beef on the menu of course, but chicken, paneer and veggie burgers instead. After our ice-cream indulgence, we headed next door to the famous Raj Mandir Theater to see a Hindi film. The theater was grand inside and out. It looked more like a theater than a cinema. There was even a curtain that covered the movie screen like a stage. There were different classes of seats, the lower seats were less expensive and the higher seats were more expensive.
We saw the movie, Sarabjit, based on a true story. Though we couldn't understand the language, we could follow the plot, for the most part.
The City of Jaipur
After talking with my folks, for the first time in a month, we left the hotel well after noon. We went to the Albert Hall Museum first and checked out the underwhelming collection of artifacts inside. Afterwards we went to the Johari Bazaar then Hawa Mahal and finally to the City Palace, the last of which we decided against going into.
Following a day walking around in the intense heat we spent some time at an upscale coffee house.
Previous Blog - Jaipur 2009