Friday, February 26, 2010

Crazyman Travels : Part 1

lost and found

As I was travelling in South India this time it dawned upon me that the events we had gone through could have made front page in my local newspaper.

“Malaysian mother and daughter team caught smuggling liquor in India

What horror eh! Though it didn’t happen it could have happened to us as we had been stuck with the most ridiculous driver I’ve ever encountered in my travels.
Let me tell you how I came to hire him. Back in Malaysia I was finalising my travel plans and highlighted a few hotels to stay in Trichy. When we got here I picked Hotel Gajapriya and it turned out to be more than lovely.

Basic business class rooms but lovely service and management. The people at the desk were not only helpful but also very respectful. They made our stay really memorable and towards the end of our travel leg when the drama got worse they stood to our defence.

Now adjourning to the hotel is the Basha Travels. Initially we were supposed to get my uncle to make the necessary arrangements for our car but when I realised he lived pretty far from town and we were leaving for Chennai the very same day we arrived in Trichy, I thought I might as well check with the hotel. They introduced me to the tour agents next door and the owners son who discussed the arrangements with me seemed pretty okay.

That evening when I met up with the father, I did have my doubts, he seemed like one of those men who don’t give importance to women and actually looked down on them. Nevertheless I confirmed the arrangements and paid for our border pass to Pondicherry. Pondicherry is a state of its own that was once French owned hence the need for a border pass.

I asked him to show me the driver but he insisted the guy was not in and he would give me the details if I called in from Chennai.

The driver was set to pick us up from Trichy Railway station once we return from Chennai. So off we headed to Chennai by train and had a wonderful time there and as you know we had an excellent driver on that leg and that’s definitely gonna be our choice the next time we head to Chennai.

The train to Trichy was delayed by 10 minutes and we got out to find this guy holding a board with my name on it. I’m writing this down for future reference, if I have even a single doubt when I meet someone, I’m avoiding them. It’s time I listened to my conscience. I didn’t like him at first glance, he looked to me as someone dishonest who would sugar coat everything he said.

We headed to a temple in Trichy before heading to my uncles place. Now the dude yakked our ears out on how he is gonna be the best driver we’ve ever known and that was the point I thought yo dude you talk too much. But I gave him the credit of being nothing but a loud mouth.

Anyway after having lunch at my uncle’s place we headed for Chidambaram to stay the night. Usually we’d find a place next to the temple so that we wouldn’t have to wake up our drivers in the wee hours of the morning. Plus we’d only come out of the temple after 9 am so he might as well get his rest.

Eventhough my uncle served him lunch that day we gave him the full daily quota for food for the day and the next at one go.

Now the next morning, after finishing prayers and while we were sitting next to the temple tank, we notice him hovering behind us which is pretty unusual since he didn’t follow us to any of the other 2 temples. We’ve had drivers follow us before but they’d usually either follow at all temples or none since they usually preferred to sleep or talk to other drivers.

Again I heard warning bells ring in my head but I dismissed it. Right after checking out we headed to look for breakfast since it was already 10 am. Surprisingly our driver followed us to eat and that’s when I figured he was trying to get us to pay for the bill eventhough we had already given him money.

When I first visited India years ago, one of my uncles always insisted we never let the drivers eat with us. At that time I had thought it was a matter of class but only much later I realised he had a point. They do tend to take advantage of you and if you’re women travelling without male, they may use it against you so I usually make it very clear from the beginning.

I finally got back to the car and told him make sure you eat early because we eat at odd times and will probably miss lunch.

From Chidambaram we headed to Pondicherry and got there in time for lunch. We head towards the Amritha Ashram and just as we were getting down, he gets down the car and complains in front of a bunch of people that he’s starving and we didn’t give him enough money. Now the driver we had taken in Chennai had actually declined the money we gave him though we did force him to take it and we had given him this guy the same amount. Taken aback and sensing that he wanted to cause a scene I told him I will talk to him later.

Later I told him this is the same amount I gave the driver in Chennai, and if a city driver thought it was okay then it is.

Anyways he proceeds to sulk at us for the rest of the day and everytime we asked him to go anywhere or stop he would complain. I wanted to see sights in Pondicherry and he was upset I was circling the area looking at things he thought wasn’t relevant. I finally gave up and got out of the car to walk 3 4 blocks admiring the architecture.

After we got back, I asked him to head to Karaikal which is the other town under the Pondicherry border. We get there after 6 and started looking for a hotel. Anyway we find this place and after I had checked out the rooms I confirmed the place and headed out to get our bags sorted.

Just as the bell boys were getting the bags, he throws a tantrum in front of everyone again.

“Give me RS 3000 for petrol NOW, I’ll go fill up the car and come.”

Again I noticed the pattern, he liked creating a scene so I told him to get back in the car to solve it. Now a full tank for an ambassador only comes to RS 1500 so wondering why he needed more and why he couldn’t fill it up the next day, I told him no we’ll do it tomorrow.

“No I want RS3000, give me now, I’ll use my own money to eat since you won’t give me any.”

Now drivers do usually ask for an advance but never to this amount. Sensing the hostility I gave him the money and decided I’ll call the car company first thing in the morning.

After refreshing we headed to the Hotel restaurant for dinner and contemplated our problem. That’s when we met a very interesting waiter. He was an older bachelor guy who had worked all over the world and at the moment he was working as a waiter before his next stint got confirmed. Can’t remember what he worked as there but it wasn’t waiting tables yet he was very dignified and polite.

So I was asking him what was there to see in Karaikal besides Travancore – which I decided not to go since we were heading towards the Saniswarar temple in the morning.

Apparently the only thing great about coming to Pondicherry was the liquor price. People would pass over the border just to buy liquor and smuggle it back into Tamilnadu. It’s a criminal offence to take liquor out of Pondicherry.

At that moment I had a suspicion that’s why the driver had thrown a tantrum and was hoping it wasn’t.....

-To be continued-

Crazyman Travels: Part 1
Crazyman Travels: Part 2 
Crazyman Travels: Final

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Anonymous said...

Come on! This is the meanest way to tell a story:-(

I want to know the rest... did he end with that, bet he got the liquor, did you tell the cops, did they send goondas?...

Do you attract trouble?:-) Just some things, including you finding a snake in the glove dpmt of your car, are pretty fixed in my mind... scary.


Visithra said...

hehe ur a long time reader eh ;p

2nd half is up - just think of the worst la - it happened ;p

hehhe i think so - trouble n weird ppl kinda find me - i promise i dont do a thing? ive always just taken them in stride - perhaps i feel god things im built to with stand it ;p

Steffi said...

Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

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