This day started out pretty adventurous, but luckily it didn’t get too bad.
To start with, a whole bunch of “men in saris” (eunuchs) were roaming in the area around the house. I still have to figure out the what’s and the why’s about these people, but in any case it was clear they were after money.
As we were making change at the chemist’s (for the rickshawallahs, not the sari-clad men), one of them started addressing me insistently, pawing at my arm in the process. Now, if there is one thing I don’t like, it is being pawed at by people who want to get money out of me, be they big or small, ugly, beautiful, child, woman or neither. Nisha told me afterwards that he had said to the chemist that one of his friends had died — hence the need for money.
A minute later, as I was counting my change (which had started by being 50Rs short), the sari-guy had the bright idea of sticking his hand upon my head. I didn’t appreciate remotely, and glared at him even more than before — unfortunately through my dark glasses, so I guess it was lost on him.
We (un)fortunately succeeded in finding a rickshaw pretty fast. The road nearest to the house is always home to a couple of ricshaws, but they invariably refuse to run by the meter. I usually end up walking down to the parallel road where busses and six-seaters as well as normal rickshaws can usually be found. Sometimes, though, like last evening when I was going out, you remain standing at the bus-stop for twenty minutes, and arrive late for your movie after a hectic (but cheap) ride in an overcrowded bus at rush hour.
So anyway, we were happy to find a rickshaw willing to take us to D.P. Rd, but a little less happy to notice that this guy simply did not have a meter on his machine.
On the other hand, the 40Rs he was asking for sounded very reasonable to me. I knew the trip was at least worth 60Rs by the meter. I hopped in, knowing I would end up regretting it.
And I did.
Five minutes later, Nisha and I realised we had misunderstood one another. When she said “D.P. Rd”, she meant “D.P. Rd” nearby, not “Dhole Patil Rd” near the station. Once cleared with the rickshawallah, his price for “my D.P. Rd” rose to a preposterous 160Rs. We agreed he would drop us off at the next rickshaw stand.
Of course, he wanted his 40Rs, but there was no way I was going to give him that much. I could go up to my internet cafe on Aundh Rd for that price, and we had gone barely half that far. I gave him 30Rs, he insisted, I refused, we got off the rickshaw. He followed us around asking for his 10Rs as we enquired for somebody who would take us to our destination and charge the legal fare. He didn’t even give up once we were in our new rickshaw, and I continued refusing to give him more money, explaining all my reasons for this shocking refusal — all that in Hindi, please. Two other drivers came up to join the fun, and Nisha also started arguing around in Marathi.
I was getting more and more angry at the guy, who simply would not give up his litany: “das rupaye de do!” After a couple of minutes, however, our driver started his engine (of his own initiative or at Nisha’s request, I could not tell) and drove off, leaving the irritating crook behind.
I was glad that I had stood my ground and hadn’t given in. Nisha gave me a tip from our driver: if a guy like that won’t let go, threaten to report him to the police. I’m keeping that in mind for the next one — or maybe I’ll simply play smart and really stop taking my chances with guys who won’t go by the meter!
I’m writing all this sitting cross-legged in front of my usual internet cafe, just opposite Taramai’s basti. If the power failure lasts much longer, I might go over to her place for some chay. Straight on the other side of the road, there is a construction site. I’ve been watching the women there shovelling up dirt and carrying it off on their heads under the (already) scorching sun. I managed to take some photographs of them too, and a short video. I think I’ve just seen Taramai and her daughter Roopali walk back to their house. Should I pay them a visit?
- IUCAA News [en] (2001)
- Glossary of Weird Indian Terms [en] (2000)
- One Chay And Two Cancellations [en] (2004)
- A Few Days in Pune, and Dress Material [en] (2011)
- Time-Melt in Pune [en] (2011)
- Living with Aleika: Calcutta and Pune [en] (2000)
- Chennai and Belgaum: Travelling with Shinde [en] (2000)
- Journey Home [en] (2001)
- Frozen Ramble [en] (2003)
- Alone: Weddings and Parties [en] (2000)