India abounds with What the Crap Moments. Here is a small collection of the best from our time traveling:
- When Kenny and I arrive in Delhi, we are prepared. We have already booked our hostel in advance and we know not to take a rickshaw because despite how far away the driver may claim it to be, we know Paharganj, the backpacker's slum, is across the street from the train station. We are also tired of arguing, bickering, and being bothered. So we have adopted a strategy called The Silent Treatment. This has been working since Agra. Instead of telling rickshaw drivers that we are walking and do not need their assistance and still being pestered all the way to our destination, we simply put out one hand flat as if to receive a gift and then walk two fingers of the other hand across it without uttering a single word. It's amazing. No one bothers us after we give them The Silent Treatment. On the back of a business card, Kenny wrote the word "BOOKED" and underneath it, just in case, "WALKING." So, as we pick our way down Paharganj, avoiding eye contact with all the vendors and rickshaw men, we show our card to all the hostel pimps out to snare guests. And guess what! It works. Almost. One man approaches us and tells us he has a great place we can stay, clean and cheap. Kenny shows him the card. He looks at the card and says, "Oh no! I know that place. It's full of cockroaches and dirty." Um, what the crap? We just laugh it off. Illiteracy runs rampant and is best friends with Lying Through Your Teeth.
- A rickshaw driver is following us down the street. We want to walk to our destination because our cash is dwindling and it's just faster to follow the map in the guide book than have a driver stop and ask every one of his friends how to get to where we want to go. One driver does not fall for The Silent Treatment. He knows we're walking, but he really wants to know where we're going.
"We're WALKING." Plus Silent Treatment hand gestures, not to be misunderstood.
"I KNOW. But where you going?"
"I'm not telling you."
"It's a secret."
"Oh yes, Secret! I know, I know! Get on, I take you there!"
Gotta love it. This is Lying Through Your Teeth coupled with Feigned and Insistent Knowledge. Say it with me now (think Wheel of Fortune): What! The! Craaaaap!
- While we're in Delhi, we decide we'd like to go to the zoo and check out the white tigers. We have learned to negotiate prices with the drivers before ever getting into the autorickshaw. So, as we come out of the tiny alley our hostel is in, past the two albino boys who cook chicken on the corner and the two urinals that I hold my breath by, we hail a driver and offer our price. Kenny does some haggling. We agree that 80 rupees should get us to the zoo. We hop in and we go. But after a few minutes, perhaps 5, the driver pulls over and stops. We look at each other and then Kenny asks what the problem is.
"80 rupees here."
"What? No. We want to go to the zoo."
"Yes, I take you zoo. 100 rupees."
"No way! You said 80. 80 rupees to the zoo."
"No. 80 rupees here. 100 to the zoo."
Can you believe this guy? What the crap is going on? We are only about halfway to the zoo and it is freaking hot and the cars on the roads make it even hotter. But we are travelers of principle! We refuse to be duped (well, any more than we already are) and so we get out and just tell him we'll walk the rest of the way. And we do. So TAKE THAT Mr. Lying Bastard Autorickshaw Guy!
- In Dharamsala, I bought this awesome elephant ring. I have a thing for elephants and it has only been encouraged since The Day of the Elephants happened. So, I buy this ring. It is cool and rather large and I'm sitting on the pot, thinking about some things if you know what I mean, and all the sudden I hear this popping sound. (No, you goobers. Not that sound. That's plopping, with an l. Get it right or pay the price!) I look down and my elephant has popped in two! I think, well, maybe I can still wear this cool ring because now it just looks like it's one of those that goes not quite all the way around your finger. No biggie." So I finish thinking about some things, and I go to read a bit. I'm sitting on the bed reading my book and POP! goes the piece of crap elephant ring. In three pieces now, and no longer around my finger but in my lap. Okay, I know I only paid a dollar for this ring, but this is really ridiculous. So the next day, I haul the three pieces of ring up the steep stairs and to the guy who sold it to me. I show it to him. And do you know what he said to me? And I quote:
" 10 more rupees you can have different one."
Hold up, Martin. (Martin? I know. It's a new thing. I just pick a name and throw it in there. And if your name is Martin, you feel special, eh? Blame it on Norman Mailer and Why are We in Vietnam?) You want me to PAY you because your piece of crap broke while I was sitting on the toilet? I think maybe he misunderstood so I explain to him that I don't want to pay for another one. I'd simply like to get one for FREE.99 because it wasn't my fault, obviously. So then he gets mad and says I broke it on purpose, obviously, look at the places where it's broken, I definitely forced it. What the crap, times one million and thirty two! How can you reason with this guy? Turns out, he is UNreasonable. And I walk away very angry and Kenny follows me saying that he talked to the guy next to UNreasonable Weirdo Guy who Sells Rings the Break for No Reason while You Sit on the Pot's stall, and turns out, this guy is UNstable, for reals. All the vendors around him advise us to avoid him like you'd avoid a man who sells crap that breaks. So we do. And I am still mourning my elephant ring.