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Anyone Seen a Taxi

INDIA | Monday, 6 May 2013 | Views [317]

The rest of the journey to Yercaud, Vicky managed occupied herself with the wondrous sights that made up the landscape from Cochin and Dharapurami, Our get off stop. The travel agent who organised most of our trip could not be faulted; his representative and driver could not have been nicer or more accommodating.  To give you an example: to make our journey as easy as possible we were provided with an Idiots Guide on how to travel on the Great Indian Railway and not get lost.  Basically it was a list of all the stations and times between each stop, leading right to the stop we were meant to alight from the train (which was also kindly highlighted in green). Easy; childs play; one could say and not dissimilar to the infamous travel song, ten green bottles. In essence each station passed, meant a station ticked off the list, thus denoting with one less to go.

Time can pass by surprisingly fast, when there is something to pre-occupy the mind and in a matter  6 hours later  it was our stop to get off. So like a pair of professional train spotters we had our last stop in sight, with 45mins to  Dharampuri.  Being the man I am, I immediately took control of the luggage and singled handed  lifted my EXTREMELY heavy luggage of the top luggage rack where the porters, who happened to be twice my age had annoyingly  placed them with relative ease.  Once down, I strategically dragged them out of our carriage and placed by the main door where all the passengers alight.  However unlike UK train, where the doors are only opened when the train has come to a full stop , the doors on this train were locked open, thereby allowing for any unsuspecting tourist to fall off the train to certain death on the train tracks. This point was reiterated to me by dearest Vicky several times on discovering where I had left the luggage. I naturally reassured her fears, that I was very  as steady on my feet, and that I was the type that was not easily frightened by  the possibility falling to my certain death . However, the look on her face did give me a sense that, that my unfortunate fall from the train would have been somewhat preferable than losing the luggage. Safely to say we arrived at our stop, with all our luggage in tow.

The train station was nothing like I had expected, there were no porters, this meant me carrying and dragging both very, very  heavy luggage along platform over a bridge and to what I thought would be a fleet of taxis or tok toks. . Instead there was a tok toks, but no taxi’s. I had thought to myself that  we  could take a tok tok, but given the our somewhat over-packing and  being over laden with luggage for what might be considered a rookie backpackers holiday across three very spaced out towns in India, I thought better off it , than to openly suggest my idea to Vicky

In the end I decided to approach a group of men who seemed to be standing around the car park for no real reason at all. A similar stance often adopted by Uk taxi drivers, so I was confident of finding  a taxi driver among them.

“To avoid confusion I fell back on the internationally recognised word for a taxi.

“Taxi, taxi” I said, At first they all seemed to just stare at me with a blank expression, then one shook his head from side to side , which in the UK means no.

So I smiled and went on my way. Then the guys shouts out

 “Taxi sir, taxi”.

I was not sure what he was up to but after a 6 hours train journey I was in no  mood for jokes, so I returned and repeated in a loud voice, as only tourists can do when abroad:

“ Taxi, taxi”.

Again he did the same thing, by now I was getting very confused and not sure whether we would ever be stepping into a taxi or spending the night here in an empty station car park debating the point of whether, he was a taxi driver or not.

 Fortunately for me , I had Vicky and in a matter of minutes he was calling a friend who I think was a taxi or just a guy ready to make a few bucks.

Our troubles as always never just end at the first miles stone. Our next problem  came when I showed him the address, the driver to my surprise made that strange sound that is often made , by mechanics, plumbers , builders or other trade folk when they are just about to rip you off make that sign “, Yercaud , is over 120 km and is on a mountain with over 22 hair pin bends”.,

We both looked at each other and knew we were in trouble, 22 hair pin bends were sure to come at a cost.

“4500 rupees” he says, I look at Vicky’s defiant stance as she moves to position herself in the sitting position which normally translate into:

“Oh hell no, I’d rather sit here all night, than part with a single rupee”.

However, after some extensive bargaining on my part , I manage to get Vicky to agree. Unfortunately I had not thought of bargaining with the driver and in a split second said:

“Yes, Yes that’s fine”

Realising my mistake, I took an oath, there and then that I would not to part with a single more rupee for this journey. You would not believe that only ten minutes into our 3 hour journey in sweltering heat , he says:

“Sir another 500 rupees for AC,”

I thought you’ve got to be kidding.  You want to charge me a further 500 rupees for Air Conditioning in this 40 degree heat. At that point I was determined to show Vicky that her man never makes the same mistake twice. Out bargain me once fool on me, but out bargain me twice, well that’s double fool on me. Oh, You know what I am trying to say. Well to cut to the chase, I once more shouted at the top of my voice, “turn it off, turn it off, You had to be there I was commanding and extremely animated with my hand and head movement.

Then in the corner of my ear I hear,:

“John dear, 500 rupees is only about £6 , and if you think I am going to sit in this baking car for the next three hours, because you don’t want to spend another £6 , you have got another thing coming.

“ I meant to say” , I shout out again ,”” Turn it on , Turn it on”.

“ It is already on sir , 500 rupees ok with madam then sir”.

We did finally arrive over 4 hours later and I think even the driver did not think the journey was going to be as tough and hard as it was. However, we did have one thing to thanks for; there were only 20 hair pin bends on the mountain and not the 22 had we had been told.

 

Tags: brits abroad, chinese fishing nets, cochin, holiday, india, south india, taxi, yercaud

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