Travelling in India brings some challenges
I recently traveled to India and the UK.
The first part of the trip was with a friend of mine named Bruce Donnachy who I used to work for years ago.
He was keen to see the orphanage that the Coast built.
I then went on alone to London to see my son.
It was a fantastic trip that was pretty well planned but as usual there were a couple of hiccups, oddly enough none to do with the eleven flights.
There were a few highs and lows though, with the ground transport and a fortune teller.
Cabs and I just don’t seem to get on.
I always seem to have problems with them – something I’ve discovered I have in common with Bruce.
Bruce handled all ground arrangements apart from our visit to the orphanage, which was my job.
On this trip we decided to try flying to the bush rather than the bowel stretching train trip.
Actually the internal domestic flight was quite pleasant and we came across an interesting concept that Richard Branson should try in Australia.
On the headrests of the plane they have merchandise flyers that you can fill out and silently bid for items like watches, jewellery etc, and at the end of the flight the highest bidder of each item wins.
My mate won a blood pressure monitor which is important later on.
I thought I had ordered a car on arrival at what could loosely be described as an airport terminal in Vijayawada, but looked more like a bunker in Afghanistan.
I started to have doubts. As we bounced along in the back of a truck, oops I mean bus, I wondered what possible services could be available.
When we got there and picked Bruce’s designer bag up off the dirt floor it was no surprise that there was no one dressed in a chauffeur’s uniform holding up a sign with our name on it.
But there were plenty of so-called cabs. One guy grabbed me and another grabbed Bruce so next minute there was drama over who went with who.
There was a bit of pushing and shoving between the drivers and pulling of our arms one way and another.
Eventually my guy won and we all piled in his car which then had to be push-started by the guy he was fighting with.
Once we got the car going he then stopped and we all had to get out to have our photos taken.
We then headed off for the 10-mile trip but again he stopped on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and reached into the glove box.
Was it a gun I thought? No, just another camera. “Welcome to India, Bruce” I remember thinking.
The rest of that side of the trip went well and then it was off to Delhi where we arrived at 11pm.
Again, no car was there to pick us up but thousands of legal and illegal cabbies grabbing for our bags.
Now Bruce wasn’t having drama on his watch so he rang the hotel demanding our car.
But of course there was a language barrier so as the crowd gathered around us and he kept trying to spell his name and got louder and louder and the crowd got bigger and bigger I reached for his blood pressure machine.
No car was the end result and then we had a spirited debate about a price from the illegals where it ended up getting halved, but we found out later was still three times the normal fare.
So they loaded us into what looked liked a Datsun Stanza circa 1985 where Bruce had to nurse his bag and the back doors had no handles or way of getting out.
I remember thinking if this bloke takes us up a dark alley what part of him can I reach.
But again apart from ripping us off there was no drama.
So the rest of the India trip went fine apart from Bruce whinging about that one cabbie that ripped him off.
Now this is a guy that put his hand in his pocket big time for the orphanage, but hated that cabbie with a passion over 20 bucks.
Now the fortune teller, an elephant and a dancing cobra got us on our last night and it was amazing, but that is a whole other story which I will share with you next week.