Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The first day in India I had the morning free before my trip left in the late afternoon so my friends and I decided to go out and explore. Getting out of the port in India was a process. We had to take a shuttle from the ship to a gate where we had to wait in line and have Indian immigration officers check our passports and check us out of the port. While we were waiting in line we were approached by cab drivers and not knowing any better, we agreed to let them take us to the “market”. A stop at the ATM and a few minutes later we pulled up to small shop where we could see other Semester at Sea kids in the store and some already leaving. Clearly, we had all been suckered into the same scheme. We knew we had no choice but to suck it up and go in so we browsed a little and departed the overpriced store empty handed. When we got back to our taxis we discussed with our drivers that we were ready to go to lunch and let them recommend a place. They said okay so we got back in the cars and before we knew it we were at another fancy store. We told our drivers that we didn’t want to go to the stores we just wanted to get lunch but they were not having that. They told us okay okay after you look at the store, they have really nice things. We spent a few minutes in this other store where they gave us a carpet demonstration and showed us a bunch of other statues and jewelry and then once again left the store empty handed hoping this time, they would take us to lunch. Not so lucky. One more store, and then lunch. Finally the moment I’ve been waiting for. Real, authentic Indian food, and it did not disappoint. I don’t even know what we ordered but it was all delicious and came to a total of about 5 dollars a person. On the way back to the ship our driver pulled into a gas station and asked us for money. 3000 rupees which is equal to 60 dollars for three people. My two friends and I were in shock. 3000 rupees?! No wonder the driver refused to discuss prices with us at the beginning of the day. it turned out that he had not decided to drive us to his chosen stores and wait for us out of the kindness of his heart, but rather, that meant that he would be with us longer and he had planned on charging us per hour. After arguing for a few minutes we didn’t seem to have a choice. We paid up and were more ready than ever to get back to the ship. At least it was a learning experience. We didn’t get in another cab without negotiating prices beforehand for the rest of the trip.