Thursday, March 22, 2012

Travelling in India (Part I)


I love travelling a lot. Many people love travelling a lot. Travelling helps people do something different from their routine activities. They see different things, meet different people, eat different food. It is altogether a learning experience. Moreover many times we are on holiday when we travel. So travelling is connected with psyche as a comfort or luxury. However, travelling comes with some risks also. You may lose your money, you may be cheated, may get in altercation with wrong people and so on. Incidences of cheating particularly are common in India. I thought of presenting some of my such experiences here.  

Once we were going to Manali and one of our friends helped us with phone number of a driver. As per her , the driver has been extremely polite throughout the journey and he also helped her to find a good hotel. In fact she was very happy with the kind of hotels she stayed (cheap and comfy) and she believed it was only because of the driver. I did not find any reason to not believe in her. I called the driver and booked Indica for travelling to Manali from Chandigarh and then from Manali to Shimala and back. I observed that his rates were reasonable. However he came to pick us up with Alto instead of Indica. He told that Indica was not available. But I never liked alto. It is very small, legroom is very low and I could not imagine travelling through such a small car for 6 days. I asked him whether we can get another car, he said it is not possible now.  I tried to negotiate with him on the price as alto is cheaper to drive compared to Indica, but he was not ready to agree. We had no choice but to go with him. We started our journey towards Manali, however he has been very slow in his driving. We were expecting to reach Manali by night. But ultimately we had to take halt near Bhuntar. He helped us in a hotel which was reasonably good. However it was at a lonely place with no much activity around. Considering our safety we disagreed to stay at that hotel. We said we will prefer to stay in Bhuntar. The hotel owner and driver tried to convince us a lot. We moved out of hotel and sat in the Car. Apparently our driver was angry. But we forced him to move to Bhuntar town. By the time we reached Bhuntar, it was around 10 PM and we had no choice but to stay in an average hotel. I think the driver should have driven the car at least at speed of 50 Km per hour which could have taken us to Manali on the same day. We lost one important day and were forced to stay in average hotel.  As we moved to Manali next day, the driver tried to bluff us at every possible opportunity. We wanted to do rafting. Hence he introduced us to a rafting kiosk who were charging at least four times more than government approved price. He again tried to arrange an average accommodation for us for Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 per night. But I had already noted the phone numbers of some good hotels from the hoardings on the road to Manali. I called them and checked their rates, they were pretty cheap. I was advised that I should visit log hut area to see the hotel and rooms. As I told drive to take there, he was really upset and told us that the hotels I referred are pretty far from the City. Well, I again called up those hotels and they told me that they were at walk able distance from the Mall Road in Manali. I told the driver to take us to the log hut area and I was surprised to see that quite an excellent quality of hotels were available at same rate. The driver tried to cheat us as we went for skiing the next day. We were really upset with him and decided to move ahead with a new driver. It was indeed a difficult task as driver belonged the same region and could hold us for ransom. But somehow we could get rid of him. I think our trip would have been much more comfortable had we had a good driver.

Another such incident happened when I visited Jaipur in 2010 along with my parents. We booked an Indica and went for sight seeing in Jaipur. We were very much interested  in visiting Jantar Mantar. But he tried to dissuade us by saying Jantar Mantar does not make much sense visit. But of course we persisited. Later we asked him to find a suitable hotel for us to have lunch. However in a city like Jaipur he took us to a shack like hotel and told that the food tests very good. We did not have much choice as we were already out of the city and were very hungry. When we reached the fort of Amer, he said that he will not go up till the gate of the fort. He asked another 500 Rs. for it. We chose to climb the stairs rather than paying the driver extra and it took only 10 minutes to reach the gate.

Such instances are very common when we travel. They spoil all fun that is associated with travelling. We definitely cannot get rid of such instances completely. But we can definitely reduce them. In next post I will write about getting rid of such instances.