... This seemed to insult my boyfriend and he refused to pay the entry saying it is a mosque and in a place of God there should be no entry. ..Eventually they let him in for free. While in the mosque my boyfriend went to wash as he decided to pray. ... At this point my boyfriend was furious saying they are not real Muslims but still we gave them a fraction of what they asked for (out of principle)...
Later he came back to me and my boyfriend and they spoke about Islam, he took us to a corner of the mosque where an old man open a cupboard and showed us a hair of the beard of the prophet Mohammad. I tried to forget the incident at the entry of the mosque and when the old man gave us the visitors book to write in I wrote really nice things. As soon as the old man closed the book he demanded 600 rupee from us! .
Delhi was our point of entry into India and after Vrindavan it was my favorite place in India. Sure it's crowded and hot and dirty but since I had read so much about it's colourful past I felt I had the upper hand in being able to see beyond the car part dealers and junk stops, to understand what this city once was. The energy of Delhi is like nothing I have experienced before and being a person who gets a kick out of stressful situations I found this city highly addictive. I'm back home now in my European capital which I have come to nickname "The Morgue" which energy wise can only be described as that in comparison to Delhi.
The downside to Delhi are the scams and touts, while dealing with these people my boyfriend and I would sometimes look at each other and laugh and say "No one is your friend in Delhi" which isn't exactly accurate as we met some genuine people who weren't out to get anything at all.
Prepaid taxi from Indira Gandhi airport - I read somewhere on Indiamike that when paying for a taxi they will short change you when paying with a 500 note, so we decided to try this out and sure enough they did, they will ask you questions like "oh first time in India?" and "are you alone or is he your boyfriend?" just to cause confusion.
Prepaid taxi from airport to central Delhi - I was sitting in the back of the taxi and could see the driver in the front eyeing my boyfriend (who was in the front beside him) to see if he could get something out of us. Luckily we can speak to each other in languages apart from English so I warned my boyfriend and he just got his mobile phone out and pretended to speak to someone called Pappu, "yes Pappu, we are now in the taxi, we are coming to your house" ... it sounds quiet comical but it really did work, the driver didn't bother us at all!
Auto rickshaw drivers - These drivers along with shop keepers where the biggest annoyance in Delhi. On the first day we were paying into the hundreds even for short journeys, later we pretended to be living in India, "me hindustani" but still it didn't work, the only time we didn't get ripped off was when the stress had got too much (even for me) on Chelmsford Road and I had started crying, almost melodramatically the driver who had been bothering us started crying too saying "tourists were always happy until now" and insisted we get in his rickshaw and he would take us anywhere for free! Generally we were never successful in beating the rickshaw drivers.
Cycle rickshaw drivers - Our first time in one of these was heart breaking, going from Jama Masjid to Pahar Ganj. The driver was old and the further our journey went the more alarmed we were becoming, the driver was so exhausted and looked like he was about to collapse. When we got to the flyover at Gupta Road I refused to stay in the back of the rickshaw any longer and my boyfriend and I helped him push it along the street, by the time we got to Pahar Ganj we both felt awful and gave him four times what he had asked for and a packet of cigarettes. After that we never tried to get the Indian price for a cycle rickshaw and always tipped them we more than they had asked.
New Delhi train station - I can't believe, after all of the warnings I had read, that we would fall for this. Approaching the station we were approached by a smartly dressed man saying he was an officer and that the tourist reservation center was closed. I suspected he was lying so I asked him for his ID, he got a bit of paper out of his pocket and showed us it, it was all in hindi, I told him he was lying and I tried to grab the bit of paper. I think it might have been a general Indian ID card, well, funny to think back now but he was FURIOUS, he started shouting at me "Madam, I'am an officer, I can arrest you for doing that" ... I began to feel guilty for suspecting him and he led us away from the train station to small travel agents across the street. I told him I wanted to get a coffee first and he then started saying "but they sell coffee in the travel agents, please go there" then I knew he was lying. We managed to get away from him, went back to the train station and sure enough found the reservation center open on the first floor.
Delhi Metro - After we decided to avoid the non-prepaid rickshaws we got a map of the metro and tried to become more Delhiite. Our first time buying a token the woman told us the fare was 120 rupee while it was only 12, once we told her she was wrong she still tried to short change us. To be honest she was the only person who did try and scam us while using public transport. The metro is clean but I wouldn't say efficent, I wouldn't recommend trying to get in a carriage at Rajiv Chowk anytime but late evening. Everyone tries to cram into the full-to-capacity carriages, once my boyfriend got in a minor fist fight when a man had pushed me aside, another time his shirt got ripped when the people had rushed to get in. After this we decided to avoid the metro if we had to change at Rajiv Chowk and just use prepaid rickshaws.
Jama Masjid - This was the worst scam of all. My boyfriend didn't know anything about India, I was the one who basically dragged him there. He is Muslim so I thought I would show him the Jama Masjid to try and impress him with India's past. When we approached the mosque they demanded 200 rupee each from us to enter. I think this is the entry fee if you have a camera but the people who work there just abuse this and demand 200 rupee from everyone, camera or no camera. This seemed to insult my boyfriend and he refused to pay the entry saying it is a mosque and in a place of God there should be no entry. Eventually they let him in for free. While in the mosque my boyfriend went to wash as he decided to pray. I was alone and the man (guard) who walks around with a stick was trying to pick me up! I just ignored him. Later he came back to me and my boyfriend and they spoke about Islam, he took us to a corner of the mosque where an old man open a cupboard and showed us a hair of the beard of the prophet Mohammad. I tried to forget the incident at the entry of the mosque and when the old man gave us the visitors book to write in I wrote really nice things. As soon as the old man closed the book he demanded 600 rupee from us! At this point my boyfriend was furious saying they are not real Muslims but still we gave them a fraction of what they asked for (out of principle). At this point the guard who had tried to pick me up earlier marched us to the entry of the mosque and asked for a tip. When we refused he told us to leave! We told him we would stay as long as we wanted as it was a mosque which we did. I was very embarrassed infront of my boyfriend, instead of showing him this beautiful building it just turned out to be a joke. When we did leave we went to the police to report them but they didn't understand the principle of what had happened so we just gave up.
Even after all of this I still love Delhi, there were so many times that this city really captivated my imagination. Seeing an elephant walking down a busy street, or the monkeys stealing fruit around Kashmere Gate, or while peering into a little shop in Old Delhi where they were pressing envelopes a little boy who was working there tried to hide (i guess incase they thought I would report them?).Walking around the back streets of Pahar Ganj, once when I was alone I met a little boy, he was about twelve (but he told me he was fifteen) and was wearing rags, we spoke about his life and he wanted to take me home to meet his mum, or the families at night around India Gate who told us about their lives, or the little children all crowded around a television in the cotton market outside Jama Masjid watching what might have been a Indian popstar. It's the simplest things like this which make India what it is.
later we pretended to be living in India, "me hindustani" but still it didn't work
I am taking 6 girls from my school from Melbourne, Australia to help in Kolkata [4 are blonde]this January...thank god it is not in Delhi...but they will have to be very carefulcool: :mad: