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My first 24 hours in India

INDIA | Sunday, 30 October 2016 | Views [477] | Comments [1]

I have now been in India just over 24 hours. I landed in Chennai at around 8pm India time on October 28, 2016. Clearing customs and entering the country was super simple and hassle-free. Security just let me on through without questioning me or checking me. My friend told me it's because I have white skin and I am American.

My hotel had send a driver to pick me up from the airport. The drive to the hotel gave me a welcome I never expected. Firstly, the roads here are chaotic. It doesn't appear anyone follows any rules or organization. Cars will drive the wrong way down the street, everyone beeps their horns at one another, people will walk right through traffic while traffic weaves around them, etc. But I digress. The main thing I wanted to point out is that my driver made a personal stop to "see his brother" in what seemed like a shady area. Internally, I was experiencing a major freak out. He just pulled into some alley on the side of the road and said he needs to go see his brother and that he will be right back. I was pretty sure I was about to be mugged and/or killed. I was obviously overreacting, though. Once I got to my hotel, I spent a long time trying to get my cell phone service to work. I use Google's Project Fi, which supposedly has coverage here. I ended up having to manually pick a network to connect to, which is Airtel India. Cell service comes and goes...

The next day, Saturday, October 29, 2016, was my first complete day in India. I slept in, and called my friend Jay after I woke up and ate breakfast. I took a cab to his place, which was only about 1.5 miles away, and it ended up costing me 1800 Rupees! That is about 27 USD... for a 1.5 mile cab ride. I was clearly scammed. It should have cost me maybe 200 or 300 Rupees. That wasn't even the worst part. The cab driver asked me if the address I was going to is an Indian family's home. I told him it was and he asked if I had a gift for them for Diwali. I did not have a gift and he told me in Indian culture it would be rude to show up to an Indian family's home on Diwali without a gift. So, without asking me, he pulled up into a shop somewhere. Looking back, it seems he had this planned. So he pulled into this shop and all of a sudden he speaks terrible English and insists I go in and have a look and reminds me that it would be rude to show up at my friend's home without a gift. The owner of the shop shows me some hand-crafted items and points out one in the shape of an elephant and tells me it represents some Indian god who brings happiness and good fortune, or something. Not really sure what he was saying because I couldn't really understand him. So I buy this hand-crafted elephant just so I can get out of there. He asks for 2400 Rupees. I've never had to negotiate on a price before, and I failed miserably. I told him 1000 Rupees and he told me no and that this was crafted completely by hand and it took someone weeks to make, and insisted it was worth 2400 Rupees. I gave in and just payed the 2400 Rupees. That's about 36 USD and not worth my time.

I finally make it to Jay's and I couldn't seem to shake this cab driver. Jay came down and got him to leave somehow. Jay took me into meet his mom, dad, and sister. All were super nice and welcoming, but I didn't know how to act or what to say. I am a super awkward person, and especially so when I am uncomfortable, and I am uncomfortable around new people. So you can only imagine how it went. Jay's mom gave me some Indian food and I couldn't refuse it. So I ate it and it was pretty good. I think it was a sweet. Tasted like a donut coated with some sugary syrup. Jay got ready and called an auto (an auto rickshaw), and we went to a mall called Express Avenue. It was surprisingly modern and Western. I was hoping to get attention and looks from all the Indian women, but none seemed to give me any! The guys did, unfortunately. The guys would stare me down and I would just stare back and eventually say something like, "Hey, how's it going?" and they would look away. Guys giving me attention came in handy for me when we would go into a store and I did not have to get checked by security or hand them my bags to hold on to. Jay had to get checked and hand over his bags. The security guards would just let me through, no problem. Jay told me it's because my skin is white and I am American.

After the mall, we stopped at a medical store so I could buy water before going back to Jay's. When I was at the cashier buying my water, I was doing my best not to make things awkward because I thought the cashier was cute. So I ended up knocking over my water on her out of nervousness. No big deal, right? At Jay's, I met 8 of his cousins who were in town for Diwali and we went to their roof to light off fireworks. I mostly just watched and tried not to get bit by any mosquitoes. I don't want to get malaria! I got an auto to take me back to my hotel at the end of the night. There's no way in hell I'm paying 1800 Rupees for another cab ride!

Tags: chennai, india, tamil nadu



Go Greg...represent!

  A friend of Greg's Oct 30, 2016 7:49 AM

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