Friday, April 9, 2010


     I was in a funk when we got to India.  A lot was happening back home so I was hoping to step out into India and be greeted with friendly faces, good food, and a culture that I would just want to dive right into.  Instead I stepped out to a hoard of yellow rickshaws with obnoxious drivers.  Not a good distraction.
     “I am not a tour guide! I am a rickshaw driver! I am a rickshaw driver!”
     “WE KNOW!”
      We didn’t want a driver.  We were looking to just walk around and explore.  Unfortunately the city center was not close enough to walk to.  So our fate had to be put in the hands of Luke, the rickshaw driver we finally found a price with.  Luke, like most rickshaw drivers was trying to get us to hire him for the day. We didn’t want that.  So he took us to a temple that I (as an obnoxious American) refer to as the crazy temple (I don’t mean in a crazy loco way, I mean that it has so much going on on it-just wait til I have the fb again and you will see the picture).  Anyway, so we went to the temple and paid Luke but he still took us in and showed us where to put our shoes and told us a little bit about each part of the temple.  We didn’t sign up for that but we appreciated the extra information on Hinduism and Buddhism.  When we were leaving Luke said he would take us to a good, cheap market-for free.  But on the way we saw a restaurant we wanted to go to so we said thank you, gave him a very large tip and left his rickshaw.
     At lunch we tried to figure out a new plan.  Again, this is our first day in India and we were just trying to get our feet wet and learn a little more about Chennai.  About ten minutes into our meal, Luke came in, waved to us, and left.  We didn’t know what that meant so we continued to eat and when we came out of the restaurant we just tried to book it.  We didn’t want him to follow us…but he did anyway.  We walked around a local market with Luke right over our shoulders telling us that everything we were looking at was not good quality and that he knew a better market where we could get all of these things for a cheaper price.  Eventually we gave in, we said, “Fine! But we don’t have any money”.  Again, “for free, for free”.   So we piled back into the rickshaw, four people in a small backseat that normally barely seats three (thankfully Colette is a tiny girl who can sit on our laps), and we were off to the “better” markets.
     He takes us to a shop.  It’s okay.  It has a lot of antiques-very overpriced.  We walk through and quickly walk out.  We tell Luke we are ready to go, thanks for taking us, but can you take us to Pundi Market.  Suddenly Luke gets heated.  He starts yelling at us on the sidewalk-well mostly yelling at Nick because he is a man and thus myself, Kristina, and Colette, the women, do not exist enough to make decisions.  Luke keeps telling us we didn’t pay him.  We knew we shouldn’t have paid him in advance.  Oops.  It’s looking bad now.  We don’t know what to do and Luke has called his friend from the shop outside.  I am afraid he is going to fight with Nick.  Suddenly an Indian man walking down the street walks over to us, in between Nick and Luke and says “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay”.  The four of us booked it and headed down the first side street.  We were lost.
     This was not how we wanted to start our trip to India.  We have learned on this voyage to have faith in people and to trust.  Apparently Chennai was a little trickier.  We spent the rest of the day with a chip on our shoulders.  We were hurt.  We thought we liked him and that he wanted to be with us to practice his English.  We were wrong.  Granted, later in the day I had a very pleasant rickshaw driver that took my friends and I out to a hookah bar (p.s. hookah is not actually a big thing in Southern India but wow-it was the best hookah I have ever smoked), and while we were driving he pulled over, flipped on a switch that turned on a flashing light in the back, turned up the music, and said, “my cab turn into disco!”  He boosted a little bit of my faith in people.  But basically, I think I learned Chennai was not for me.

1 comment:

  1. Luke is such a jerk! Number 1, he stalked you and practically forced you to go to that market and number 2, he said "For free"! Pshhhh! But I'm glad you had a better experience with the disco rickshaw hahah.