Thursday, May 28, 2009

Street Smarts

Being "street smart" in India is a necessity for survival. Being "street smart" here is like playing in a whole new league.

I get cheated here everyday. I accept that we will pay a few rupees more for our goods and services. I have made peace with this and as long as it is just a few extra rupees, I don't consider it cheating.

From time to time though, someone really tries to cheat us and we can't accept it. Like the time Jonathan threw a bunch of bananas back at the fruit-wallah who was trying to charge him double. (this was only a few rupees, but the price doubling caused Jonathan to lose it!)

I am still fuming about a taxi we hired for 2.5 days in January. The taxi (organized through my employer) charged me for 4.5 days. Two days that I did not even use the taxi! They also charged me for over 160 kms per day. This is absurd - the taxi would have had to drive from my home to office over 10 times in one day to rack up that kind of distance. It is May and I still have not paid this bill. I've argued and I've gotten my co-workers to argue. The 2 extra days have been removed but all the extra kms are still on the bill. My coworkers have told me to just pay it and that next time I must document all the kms from the odometer.

I notice when we go to "take petrol" that the locals intently watch the meter on the petrol pump the entire time the attendant is filling the tank. Chauhan explained that this is necessary or the attendant will add some extra rupees to the charges.

Sometimes a "leap of faith" does not work, and your "street smarts" need to jump in.


thenguyens said...

Interesting post. You guys are doing a great job at giving us a glimpse of everyday life in India. Good luck getting your reimbursement!

HouseBoy said...

Some days in India can be pretty frustrating. But, on balance, the India experience is wonderful.