India so far, we been to 3 states. best is punjab and rajastan.
You can help us or else don’t disturb us.
It’s always the case where after a long and tiring ride, where we are hungry for food and lodging, we will search for a guest house for Hope Too and a cheap one. I will leave Sam and Hope Too outside while I enter to the reception to enquire about the room rates and parking facility. I have to make it quick because we are tired and Sam is outside, looking after the bike and have to endure the crowd. Those that will approach us to introduce a place for stay are commission earners and we will end up paying almost double. Others that approached will try to feel and touch Hope Too and try to ask about its’ capabilities. We are very tired and always, no one cares about how we feel. Lost in a foreign land, hungry and tired, the crowd still tries to disturb us. It can be very irritating, especially when the town is jammed, we have to squeeze through every road user and wait patiently behind the long queue while Hope Too will switch on its’ hair dryer.
It’s at Allahabad, 2nd day of Chinese New Year where we first taste the feel of the real Indian highway from Varanasi, about 150km away. We reached the town in about 2 and half hours and start to ask the local about the name of the guest house we intend to stay. Every instruction from the local leads us deeper into the town and of course, the jam and crowd gets heavier. At last I gave up the intended lodging and try one that has a gate parking by the main street. It’s really a busy street and the ‘magnet’ is very strong in Allahabad. Sam went up to enquire about the room rates while I try to manage the crowd. Sam did not see the room that they quoted because it is not safe for her to follow the man into the room alone. While I was parking my bike into the garage, the crowd was so packed that I’m shouting for Sam to help me steer Hope Too. It was a hard time. It became peaceful when the gate shuts down and we are in the compound. Being set at 300IRP for a double room, we were pretty satisfied but once we entered the room, it was the WORST that we ever stayed in India. It’s their business style. When we are lost and tired, business man will try to make this opportunity to earn more from our weakness. I read the ‘Room Rates’ board after bathing, knowing that we are staying at a 100IRP standard room! The worker’s domarity is much better and cleaner than what we are staying at. Well, it’s part of the game.
We are careless, it’s our fault.
Reaching Kanpur from Allahabad, 200km away, we get to know a place to stay through some research from internet. We reached Kanpur quite early, about 11am. It took us one hour to get to the Alibaba guest house and parking facility was not secured. We have to search of an alterntive one. After another one hour or so of struggle in the town, we managed to get the cheapest available. It was SHIV DAYAL THE HOTEL. 111A/4, G.T. Road, Ashok Nagar, Kanpur (Near Gumti No.5 Gurudwara) Ph.: 0512-2541980, 2541357. Fax: +91-512-2552335. Email: email@example.com.
Mr Dharmendra Kackar was at the desk when we enquire about the rates. He gave me a sheet of Fact & Tariff Sheet and I chose the cheapest Deluxe Room, double occupancy, it states 700. We were brought to room number 204. We wanted to pay for the room first but he will say ‘it’s okie, pay when you check out’. Every time I walked pass the reception, they are real friendly, greeted me, crack jokes and refuse to get payment from me. Hope Too was much secured as she was privately being sent to the rear gate where the key to the gate is only held by the reception.
When we checked out on 10 February 2008 0900hrs, Mr Dharmendra was out of the town and Mr S.N. Chaturvedi was taking care of the payment. He claimed that we are staying in an Executive Room and it was 1200. I refreshed him that when we checked in yesterday, we requested a 700 room from Mr Dharmendra. Chaturvedi said ’yes, 700 per person, with luxury tax and service charges, it is 1380, that come out to be about 700 per person. Also it’s impossible for you to stay in the deluxe room because it is full yesterday!’ He kept repeating and repeating the same sentence while I tried to explain how Dharmendra agree on the 700 room rate. Chaturvedi voice turns louder into an aggressive tone. I was surrounded by his staff. At this point of time, I was in their hand. Sam was in the room, Hope Too was locked in the garage, and I have to pay what ever the bill states. After handling the cash to him, he smiled at me and gave me a hand shake. Chaturvedi was fast and able to switch his mind and words when ever I caught him into any loop hole for charging me double.
From this incident, we learned a very hard lesson. Pay when we check in and get the receipt. I would strongly request the Tourism Cooperation Development of India to look into this matter seriously. It was a real burn out in our wallet.
We are again careless. It’s our fault.
We are in Agra, where this City holds the world’s number one world heritage, Taj Mahal. We asked a few locals about the direction to Taj Mahal. Even they do not understand the English language that I was trying to say but at least to know the word Taj Mahal from my mouth. As usual, a few will try to shout at me when we ride pass, I decided to ask the direction from this guy. I tried to say the word Taj Mahal in different volume for 5 times and he pointed to an opposite direction (which I realized later). It led us to a totally off road, under construction, dusty, humid and jammed road which injure Hope Too. I tried to ask a few again, some speaking very good English and started to point left and right. Well, we are definitely NOT SMART enough to believe on who we choosed to ask direction from.
It’s our fault.
We pitched a tent in one of the guest houses in Agra; we paid 100IRP per night to use their lawn. It was running 4°C at night and it was really cold sleeping in the tent. We have to save $. We saved more from cooking our own meals. The vegetables were running out and we decide to ride Hope Too without its side panniers to the town to replenish the stocks.
As usual, we stopped at a small lane where there are lots of vegetables sellers laying their products on the floor. Sam was with Hope Too, about 3 meters where I squat down to choose potatoes from the old lady. As I was choosing, a kind man took away the potatoes from my hand saying the ones that I had chosen was not good. He helped me to choose a few good ones. I only need to buy half kilogram of it and he said no, at least one kilogram. I thought to myself, maybe it’s a wholesale market and they do not sell in smaller quantities, and to support the old lady’s business. I choosed one kilogram of potatoes and one kilogram of beans. There laid another stall, selling different vegetables, manned by an old man. I chose tomatoes and chye sim. This kind man helped me to choose and the same theory applies, at least one kilogram, quoted by this kind man. I asked the old man in total how much it cost by using hand signal, he said ‘paach’, which means 5IRP of all of this. This kind man translated to me ‘ten rupees’. I have a quick thought, maybe he just wants to earn a 5IRP of commission from me, which is ok or 5IRP for tomatoes and chye sim. I handed 10IRP out and grabbed the plastic bags. The kind man stopped me, saying, ‘10IRP of tomatoes, and 10IRP for chye sim. Total 20IRP.’ Immediately something is wrong with this kind man@!#@! While I was battling with the kind man, Sam was really really busy keeping the hands from the bunch of the kids from molesting and triggering the switches of Hope Too. I was a mass. The crowd in growing bigger. Many passer by wants to see how I buy vegetables and some kids starts to touch me, which I alerted my rear pocket, having my daily cash in it. It was a mass. Upon paying 20IRP to the old man, which is supposed to be 5IRP, I returned to the old lady’s stall and pay for the potatoes and beans that has been chosen. I asked the old lady ‘how much’ and showed her hand signal. She said ‘paach’, which means 5. This kind man followed me and said ‘ten rupees’. At this time of situation, it really pissed me off and set my coal ignited. Sam was busy with the kids, I was pestered with this kind man, and the heavy crowd was surrounding us with thousands of eyes. I told the man to go away. He quietly walked back into the crowd. It’s now between me and the old lady. I handed 5IRP to her and she gave me the Indian head shake, means ok. I told myself ‘is it too cheap even she just wants 5IRP for all of these?’ I digged my wallet out for some extra coins to gave her, 5IRP. For a second, she refuses but after some shouting from the crowd, she accepted about 3-4 of the 5IRP coins. It’s ok for me to pay her more since she does not have the intention to charge me extra. It’s the kind man, which is pestering me off!
Lesson learned: there are Robin Hoods in the town. The vegetable sellers really pure people.
After buying the vegetables, I was quite happy but the crowd was still there. Kids are still touching Hope Too as I shooo them off. In the crowd, a young man in brown shirt held his camera out and wants to take picture of us. I jokingly told him ’50 rupees for me with the bike’. He replied ‘200 rupees to take a picture of her (my wife Sam) and bike’. That was humiliating! I just wanted to be friendly with the locals and they replied in a humiliating way. I said ‘No. No photos then. Go away.’ When I started Hope Too and Sam got on behind, the kids just kick and bang Hope I said ‘No. No photos then. Go away.’ When I started Hope Too and Sam got on behind, the kids just kick and bang Hope Too’s rear case. Sam turned around to warn the kids not to do it and as I accerated, I could feel some restricting. Feels like they are pulling Hope Too. I heard some shouting from Sam and I stopped after 5 meters of travel. She said that brown shirt guy pinched her bottom. I got down, run back to the crowd, smiling and waving, ‘who wants to take a picture? Photos? Photos?’ as I was searching for that guy in brown. Nothing. Crowd was dismissed because the police jeep arrived. In the jeep, seated 5 policemen. I tried to tell them by touching the police backside and said ‘my wife, my wife’ and pointed to the direction to the crowd. Guess what he does? Immediate action for the police is he made a phone call using his cell phone. Seems like not getting through the line. Then still at his seat along with 4 others, I pointed to the direction of that brown shirt guy, which was behind the jeep and rubbed the policeman’s backside. He asked me to keep quiet and he talked to a local kid. Misunderstanding the situation that my wallet has been stolen, I gave up and rode away with Sam and Hope Too.
a) Even it is a stolen wallet, why was the 5 policemen’s immediate action was to make a phone call? Was the phone call made for asking back up forces for this minor case where 5 strong policemen were sitting on the jeep all the way?
b) Don’t try to be smart to outrun or to be friendly with them.
I was walking passed a group of auto-rickshaw drivers, taking their break by playing cards. They are Mr A, B, C and D. Mr A saw me having a tobacco stick on my mouth and opened his mouth ‘HALOW! YOU! HAAALOOW! My friend (Mr B) wants a bide (the tobacco stick).’ Without thinking much, I just handed one to him and A passed it to B while B was busy with cards. I joked with a ‘two rupees’, smiling at my best. B told A something and asked him to return the bide to me. I told him I was just joking and I’m sure he can have it. All the while B did not have eye contact with me. He accepted the bide without saying anything. Suddenly, Mr C turned to me, shouted at me which he was sitting less than one meter from me ‘DO YOU HAVE A LICENCE TO SELL BIDE?!!?? WHERE IS YOUR LICENCE?!’ I was stunned! The tone is exactly like as if I got a warning from my primary school discipline teacher! The group continued their game.
Lesson learned: again, don’t try to outrun, be friendly, and be kind to them. It’s my fault.
At Pushkar, the holy village, I was riding Hope Too through a small barricade, just missing 2cm from its side panniers. On the side, which was the opposite direction, 3 motorbikes were queuing up to get through another gate. After we squeezed through the gate, I stopped and adjust some switches, which no vehicle was behind me and I was not obstruction anyone. The first motorbike among the 3 that was queuing to get through the gate on the opposite direction, stopped and appreciate Hope Too, causing 2nd and 3rd bike to stop and jammed up. The rider of the 2nd bike shouted fiercely at me ‘YOUUUU. HALOWW. YOU GO! DON’T STOP HERE!!’ I wasn’t causing his jam; it’s the first bike that caused it!
Lesson learn, there is no right of way. I am in fault again by attracting attention from the first bike, making him stop and jammed the place.
Enough for lesson learned. Day after, I shall share with all of you, the really nice side of people I have met. They just helped me without asking for any returns. I will be at Pakistan then. Hope the internet connection will be cheap.