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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding

 

Bye India

Now we're at Chhatrapatri Shivaji (that was from memory, so may well be incorrect) international airport in Mumbai.

Although we didn't spend any time in Mumbair here, we arranged for an afternoon flight back from Goa so we had some time to do something before our flight at 1.45am tonight.

With the help of the Government Tourism office (Laura's idea) we found a car (with A/C and tinted windows) and a driver who was prepared to drive us around for a few hours and show us the sites for Rs 2,000 ($NZ80). A lot more than a taxi, but we thought it would be much better.

And it was. Our driver went by the name Subhash. He was a Maharastran. He spoke very very bad English, with a stutter, and haltingly. At first he wanted to know what time our flight was. We told him "our flight is not for a long time, but we'd like to spend about 3 hours only". But he really wanted to know what time our flight was. So we told him 1.45 in the morning. And he said "Ah, okay, 7.45 in the morning" and seemed happy about that. Happy as in, I'll keep the tour going until 7.45 in the morning. I wondered what he'd do with us. After he hurt us, took all of our rupees, and dumped us in a Ville Parle slum.

Next we tried to tell him that we didn't want to be taken to shops. He mumbled "No, no shopping. Timing only. Timing. 5 minutes, 10 minutes [waves hands]. Only timing." We didn't know what this meant, but he said it very passionately. My best guess was that he was of a strongly anti-shopping sentiment as people took random amounts of time when shopping, and this messed up his schedule.

Well, the second place he wanted to take us to was called "Government Cottage" - sounded good! Upon entering one could see that it may have, in the distant (distant) past, been a government cottage, but in its current guise, it sold Pashminas. Very very high quality pashminas at extremely discounted prices. So we tried telling him again - "No shopping". We managed to work out he was concerned that if we didn't stop at shops, our tour would be too quick, and so we wouldn't want to pay him his full fare. "No no" we protested, we will pay the full fare. We like it better with no shopping - yes we are poco loco!!! The message seemed to have gotten across.

Subhash, like Anthony before him (our driver in Goa - it was a very hairy drive to Goa airport this morning), had his own rules when it came to driving. In rough order:
  • Anything is preferable to coming to a complete stop - this should be avoided under all circumstances.
  • If I absolutely have to, then I will do it at the very last moment and extremely quickly.
  • Other people defer to larger vehicles (likes huge tour coaches). Those people have no balls. Frankly they are loosers and don't deserve their taxi. I spit on them. Fools.
  • The best, really only, place to overtake is blind corners. Even better if I'm turning around and talking to my fare at the same time.
  • And specific to Subhash: I will use my horn nearly continuously (he really did - even other drivers were annoyed with him).
Things took a bad turn for Subhash when he pulled over by the police for using his cell phone while driving. Dejectedly he told us the amount of fine. I didn't hear him well. "Rs 300?" I asked. "Yes. No. Rs 1500". Had he said Rs 1500 all along? Did he revise his find upwards to try to get more money out of us?

We had to shop at one place near the Gateway of India, ostensibly to get free parking. The only thing interesting about that shop, was that one of the proprietors claimed to have come from a country called "Beloogistan" - near Afghanstan. "Was it part of Russia," Laura Asked. No it wasn't. Never was. Also, he sounded exactly like Borat. I guess that does add some credibility to his claim. We then walked around the Gateway - pretty cool. Hardly any tourists about. When we got back to the car he asked if we had made any purchases at the Beloogistan store. No we hadn't, we told him. Ahh well, he said, in that case you need to pay this man (gesticuates to man in green quasi-official looking uniform knocking on his window) Rs 20. Enh - that's free parking India-style.

The tour over, we drove back to the airport. I paid his fare and waited:
-- "A little extra tip for the driver no?"
-- "Rs 2000 was a pretty good fare I think!!!"
-- "Not my fare. I am only driver. [something about children I think] [something about being fined by the police I think]".
-- I flicked him 3 $US dollars. Partly because they were the first notes I picked out, and partly because he wouldn't know immediately how much that was and thus I could escape.

Oddly there the were no "porters" wanting to take our bags for us. This was an anti-climax as Laura had jumped out of the car to fend them off (we had previously paid Rs 50 for a man to take our bags about 10 meters - that was when we were stupid. And he complained we hadn't tipped him enough). Only passengers can enter the airport proper. The first thing we had to do was get our bags x-rayed. We stood at the back of a pretty long queue. We got to the scanner. "What airline?" "British Airways" "Other line. Only open at 10". It was just after 7. The other line was closed. Bad thoughts crept in - would we have to stay in this tiny area with no toilets, seats, or places to eat until the other lane opened ... in 3 hours?. I with him checked. "Oh no - go straight through". Maybe it's all the heady sights we've seen today - but I thought the whole point of x-raying the bags as soon as you went in to the airport was so people weren't wandering around the airport with bombs and such like? Well, if that is true, I have discovered a major flaw in that system.

It's 20:25. One and half hours until we scan our bags. Three hours until we can check it.

I had intended to write about the nature of the Indian people we have met, but will have to wait until later.

Thank you for reading this far.

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