India and Nepal (Day 3)
- One crazy & illegal taxi ride
- Impromptu Karaoke
- Akshardham Temple
- Corrupt Police
2000 Rupees! I laugh at the ridiculousness of the price. After some more discussion the price comes down to 1500. We still think this is too high and start to walk away. “Okay 1200” they agree. “1200 for both taxis?” I ask. It always pays to confirm details such as this, otherwise you could find yourself arguing with a driver who insists you had agreed on 1200 per taxi at the end of your trip.
We split into two groups, which would very much determine how this day would be remembered. With two taxi’s secured we began our journey around Delhi.
‘Party’ planner by night, drug pushing taxi driver by day. Aman usually lives on India’s west coast in Goa, the nation’s party capital. When I asked him about Goa’s beaches but he quickly diverted the conversation to a word he uses for women that sounds a lot like that!
The boys found it hard not to laugh when he explained that, “I like girls, but not girlfriends because they are always whinging about things like their feelings.”
In just a few comments it was fairly clear that this guy didn’t see women as people, but as products, objects that exist to meet the needs of others. It became even clearer when he spoke of his exploits, access to women and whole range of drugs he wasn’t shy in offering passengers he had just met.
We soon made a stop for fuel where I explained to the guys the kind of things Aman was involved in. It was already sad enough that he thought these stories and his view of women would gain the approval of Westerners. The reality of what he was involved in was even worse.
The boys stopped encouraging him despite the incredible wealth of filth flowing freely from his mouth. He realised he’d have to find another way to impress us and after a few misplaced cheers he was reversing at 40-50km/h before slamming on the brakes and pulling up just short of the other taxi. Our car had made skid marks roughly the size of those watching.
At least we had now arrived safely at Akshardham Temple.
The temple complex was amazing. 12,000 tonnes of intricately carved sandstone with various quotes around the building to provide an understanding of Hindu beliefs and the role of guru’s (they seem the equivalent of Saints in Catholicism)
We came back to our insane taxi. The music was soon pumping, Aman taking great pride in his knowledge of Western music, no matter how bad. “Baby you light up my world like nobody else…that’s what makes you beautiful”
We stopped in for a quick visit to India Gate, before going to a quiet park, known to be a place where locals can display affection. Eyes wandered as couples ogled this new game played with a plastic disc. Romance wasn’t the only thing in the air as Frisbee’s flew back and forth, distracting partners from their mates and causing others to join in.
After that we jumped back in the taxi’s to head home.
Aman started looking nervous and as he slowed down warned me to “Tell them we are friends, when they ask you”. We slowed down and I soon realised that we were in a personal vehicle, which wasn’t licensed to take passengers.
After a few minutes one of the cops came over and I spoke some Hindi to him and told him that “He is my friend”. “Where is he your friend” he asked “Party friend”, I lied. “How long is he your friend for?” “Party friend” I said again, already feeling bad enough for lying once.
The officer went back out and joined the other to continue questioning Aman. He rushed back to the car from some papers and asked me for 200 Rupees. I had thought for a moment about a literal “on the spot fine” but upon further thought, there was little doubt about what this money was being used for. Aman went back to the cops with cash in hand.
At this stage we all thought this was pretty funny and wanted to get a photo for memories sake. At the same time we couldn’t really turn around and yell out “Ek, Do, Teen”. One of the boys in the back had an idea and I soon found myself adjusting the mirror at the front so he could take a photo of what was going on behind!
After confidently adjusting the mirror for Kobby in the back the officer approached the car again. BUSTED! Not amused in the slightest by our “clever” antics he forced us to delete the photo. Little did he know that moments before this Mitch had pointed the camera directly at them and taken a happy snap of “himself”. We deleted Kobby’s photo and the officer disappeared, to extract more money from Aman.
Aman soon came back to the car. Even more flustered than before. “Okay, tell them the truth this time” he asked.
I then explained to the officer that we had paid 600 Rupees for the days services. He angrily started to lecture us about how we were in the wrong too but was interrupted by Josh who questioned his credentials and for some ID. He failed to provide any, explaining that they are undercover cops. A gun was evidence enough for the rest of us.
Soon the cops had what they wanted, 400 Rupees, and we were on our way again.
Aman was as white as a sheep. Clearly shaken and upset by the ordeal. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him it was alright before Kobby led the rest of us in singing the chorus of “That’s what makes you beautiful” to Aman to cheer him up. The impromptu Karaoke did the trick and was likely the first positive thing to come from One Direction’s music!