Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crazyman Travels: Part 2

I LOVE sodahpotti kannadis*

Usually in the evenings we’d go out for a walk around the hotel to check the shops and look for an internet centre or a phone booth to call back home.

I spotted an internet centre and was making my way there when I noticed a TASMAC outlet next to it. TASMAC outlet’s are government approved liquor stores. As we got closer to see if the net centre was opened, to my horror I found our driver standing at the counter buying liquor. Shocked we headed back and waited for morning to call the travel agent.

The next morning I called the father and told him about our situation. He told us we should give the guy more money daily and that the advance was normal. When I told him about the liquor incident he told me I must have imagined it! That’s the point I realise the dude was gonna support the driver no matter what and my complaining wasn’t gonna do anything. Anyway I told him to advice the guy to be polite and if he wanted to tell us something stop creating a scene. As we checked out, the driver seemed more polite than he was the night before. So we assumed perhaps the owner had scolded him eventhough he had supported the guy when I had called him. I also increased his daily food quota.

As I had figured early, the petrol tank needed less than RS 1500 for a full tank. After circling Kumbakonam we headed to Thanjavur for the night. This time he threw no tantrums and since the hotel wasn’t near the temple, I told him to be ready by 7 am the next morning.

When we got back in the afternoon to check out, he asked me where we were headed to next, something which he hadn’t done before. Little did I know he had plans to execute later.

We began heading towards Madurai and the landscape started looking familiar and it was taking a bit too long. As far as I knew Madurai wasn’t that far from Thanjavur. An hour into travel I realised he was heading back to Trichy and I asked him immediately why and I was told it’s a shorter route and faster to head to the expressway.

As we neared the outer villages in Trichy he suddenly stopped the car and got down. He quietly took something out of the car and handed it to a guy who appeared from one of the houses. OMFG that’s when I realised why we were heading towards Trichy and what he had handed over. He was handing over bottles of liquor! He had just smuggled bottles of liquor across the border and that was not the only stop! He made another 3 more stops without asking us. I finally told him off after he met his sister to pass another bottle.

I was so tempted to change drivers then but I figured all the harm and tantrums were over now that he had done his liquor supply route. But again I should have listened to my instincts. It took him another 2 hours to reach Madurai from there and he was polite throughout the whole journey.

We reach Madurai and I tell him to head towards the temple to find a place to stay. I remember staying pretty close to the temple the last time I was there, though we still needed to take a car to the temple.

Madurai was packed jammed with crowds coming into the city to do their Diwali shopping. It was massive and I had wanted to do some shopping there. So we’re circling the town and looking for a place and checking out the sights when he began throwing a tantrum again.

He was telling me off for making him circle the city. I finally lost my temper and screamed back.

“I hired a car to take me around not to drop me from point a to b. if you can’t do it don’t be a driver – learn how to do ur job and stop being rude.”   

We finally find a hotel pretty far away from the hotel and I give him instructions for the next day.

He refused to take us to the temple the next morning saying there won’t be parking. I told him you can drop us and come back, be ready at 6am.

He tried screaming back at me, and again I told him off and went to sort out my hotel details. A few minutes later he suddenly walks into the lobby with his sheepish grin. Now I had told him before I don’t want him lingering around the lobby when I’m making arrangements. Usually he’ll only come in to get his staying details once I’m done with the booking. The hotels we stayed in usually had rooms for the drivers to change and stay and he was enjoying the benefits. These hotels are usually pricier than the other ones but in India I tend to pick moderate hotels for safety and hygiene reasons. I don’t think I can backpack there.

Then mom tells me why he came in and had calmed down. Apparently he nearly ran over an auto dude while reversing and that guy would have plundered him if he hadn’t seen my mom sitting in the car.

This idiot driver of ours tended to pick fights with people on the streets, bell boys and security guards. He was also super rude with them. I should have figured he would soon be rude to us when I noticed them. The only guard he became chummy with is the Madurai guy.

The next morning we woke up to find him not ready despite what I had told him. 10 minutes later he still hadn’t turned up. I quickly figured he and the security guard had teamed up to delay us. I finally gave up and took an auto. I’ve got a story on him for later.

Every other driver was dropping of their passengers at the same spot the auto dropped us but ours. There were also drivers waiting by the side of the road for their passengers and we got stuck with an idiot. The area around the temple is off limits for any vehicle.

When we got back for breakfast, I told the security to make sure the driver is ready by 10 am we were going out. We headed to Alagar temple and to pazhamudhir cholai before driving towards Karaikudi. According to my calculations it wasn’t too far from there. 

Unfortunately he was on vendetta mode and started taking village roads to get to Karaikudi. We were travelling through dirt roads and the slowest speed possible. He was driving at 20km/h even on the main roads. I at first assumed that was the only road to the place. At one point he stopped to ask someone for directions and that guy sarcastically told him off for travelling through the dirt roads when there was a main road. Sigh I guess he wanted to irritate us.

I took us 4 hours to reach Karaikudi and we hadn’t even had lunch. We reached there to find no shops were open for food and finally had a ginger sugarcane drink to appease our hunger at 3.30 in the afternoon. Surprisingly that drink reenergised us as we walked around looking at the buildings. He had already had lunch in one of the road side shops earlier.

But we cut short our travel around Karaikudi since we were hungry and since we had another 4 hours travelling to do, we should leave early. However it took him just an hour to get back! NOW he could drive fast and take the expressway! At that point I really wished I had gone back to change drivers when I could. I didn’t even bother calling the agent and decided to just grit out teeth for the next few days.

We stayed 2 nights in Madurai just to give us a bit of travel break. I had wanted to do so many things but the crowd and his behaviour left me reconsidering a few plans. Everytime I asked him to stop anywhere he would mumble and stop as far as possible from where we I wanted him to.

After we got back to Madurai and had dinner, I told him to look out for a photo lab since I needed to download my photos. Instead he stops right in front of the hotel and says no I’m not driving – go and take an auto.

You imagine hiring a driver and then being told I can only do what he wants??

So I told him no he is driving. I didn’t hire him to show me the hotel. That’s when he tells me he only works for 8 hours. While that doesn’t apply, don’t forget you only started after 10 am today! That shut him up and we went looking for a place.

He mumbled about driving through the shopping crowd. Yes you had to drive slower but that doesn’t give you a right to say you won’t drive. Finally I stopped at a cop for directions and he pointed us towards a place.

Its best to get your photos downloaded at a photo lab and not an internet centre while travelling. The net centres are usually ancient places with the slowest computers. Even at the lab – he told me after half an hour of waiting that I better come back tomorrow to get my cards and dvds.

He actually came in looking for us. Only the next day we realise what all the fuss was about. He was late for the drivers drink party! I found out when the guard thanked him for the nights party when we were going out in the morning.

In Thirunelveli we decided to try shopping again and headed to the local pothys outlet. Now thirunelveli is a town of tall people and a thriving local consumer market. So Pothys had a parking system where drivers would drop you off at the outlet and we would be given a tag where the guards will call them for us once we finished. Nice system eh?

Anyway we tell him we’ll be gone for 2 hours. After shopping in a super packed place – I am so not going to India during Diwali again! – we head out to look for him. The security tells us all the drivers had been asked to repark at the parking just behind the building. There was only a few cars there, I spot ours but guess what he was missing! Apparently he had gone to eat at 10.20pm in the night! Eventhough we had told him we’d be back in 2 hours!

---- To be continued -----

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

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sabrina said...

OMG i'm biting my nails waiting to see how this ends...pleaes tell me you shot him in the kneecaps or something!!!!

Anonymous said...

Aaah... no more continuation!!!

Anonymous said...

thought 3rd installment would be up by now...that was me above


Visithra said...

sorry for the delay guess - was super tired yday ;)

saby : i wish i wish i had - but sometimes to be diplomatic u cant do things - if i hit him i dont think i would have had the hotels support - india's quite male dominated

kaj: hehe sorry final part is up ;)

My days(Gops) said...

oops :(.. enna oru experience ungalukku....

next time trichy vandha sollunga, i will arrange for u a cab with 5* service .. but no ambassador ah?

//As far as I knew Madurai wasn’t that far from Thanjavur//

yes it is, and there is no way u could reach madurai without passing trichy ...

one more thing,

next time avoid taking a single cab for all ur trip..

u should've hired a different car in madurai. bcoz, where ever u go, the locals knws the exact place to park the car, drop u , pick u, etc and he even assists u which place is better for shopping, eating blah blah..

may be u might spend some more 3000 rupees to 5000 rupees, but u will have a pleasant trip all the way and u wont get tired of searching the places and stuffs...


Visithra said...

err what does price have to do with a dude who smuggles liquor?

the price we paid in trichy was actually more than what we paid for in Chennai - i hire a car so we would have the comfort as well as the security and convenience of travelling at our own pace.

this is not my first time to india or to these cities - i could give better directions to most of the town compared to the driver - thats how familiar i am with tamilnadu

n we've always just hired one driver but usually its from chennai - since my flight landed in trichy i had to get one there

i prefer using an ambassador as my luggage bag is huge and a tata will be too big for just 2 people to travel

gops i have an uncle there as well - n i was supposed to get him to hire the cab for me - but there was a situation that made me change plans - will write on that later

actually if you look at the map there is another route you can take from thanjavur to madurai - which would have been faster - i discovered that on our route back from karaikudi - plus this guy drove to every single village on the outskirts of trichy to supply his alcohol n thats y it took so long that we reached main trichy during the peak hour

its not that he didnt know i have friends and family all over the state - he just didnt care

SHYAM said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

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