Monday, 21 January 2008

Scammed in Mumbai. I am a soft touch.

Up and ready to roll around somemore of Mumbai. Decided I should get my train south organised first. Went to reception to see if it was advisable to book in advance. It is so I walked out to head off to Victoria Terminus (VT), the Indian name is too long. I got out the door and the gateman got talking, I told him I was off to VT. He kindly told me there was no need the travel agaent at the end of the road will book a ticket for me. Nice man.
I was directed to the travel agent round the back of a hotel, it is normal here, I thought.
Single, second class to Ratnagiri please. Rs 600. Come back after 13.00 to pick it up. Deal.
Meanwhile, I got on the web and checked out the ticket. Rs 200. Mugged.
Went to get my ticket and argued the toss. Got Rs 100 back. I am not the type of bloke to keep on arguing, a soft touch. It was not the money, 5 quid, it was the dishonesty and 200% mark up. Lesson learned I hope, but doubt.
I cant work out the Indian mentality to this chasing money. I don't think they see it as dishonesty, it is just there mentality, character. Call it what you will. We are just different cultures.
The day continued. I wandered off to Marine Drive, the western side of this peninsular of Mumbai. The city has all sorts of building styles. Wandering down one road there are typical old colonial mansions, being used for government departments now. Then a sudden change to a Art Deco building, now a school, the further I wander the more the Art Deco takes over. I stumbled across the Oval Maidan, hardly stumbled it is great big field/Maidan containg about 5 cricket fields. The Indians are cricket mad. There are 5 fields here, but about 15 games going on. Knock abouts of groups of all ages squeezed in between the official games. Sat and had a watch for a while, checking out the kites overhead too, birds not boxes. Lots of high fives and hugs going on in the official games.
Carried on to Marine Drive, got befriended and asked if I wanted a guide in a nice way. He was a good lad from Delhi. He came here to work in a florist shop, the money is better here than in Delhi.
Wandered on a bit. The beach is a bit dodgy at this end, lots of rubbish, but people are out there paddling with baskets, collecting something. The Art Deco flats are flaking a bit and tucked in behind them is the Mumbai cricket ground.
Wandered on a bit more and befriended in a not so friendly way, I think his English, although better than any of my Indian dialects. He got the gist and left.
Sat under a tree on a bench for a read and relax, but this is not a city where you can sit and be left. After a couple of visitors I decided an ice cream was due. 2 scoops of double Swiss chocolate, lekkere.
Jumped into a taxi to go and confront my train ticket man. The taxi was a bit over the odds, but not extortionate.
Shower and back on the road. Wandered off down Colaba Causeway to find a restaurant I had seen the night before. Didn't take the turning I was supposed to. I just carry the Lonely Planet for ballast. I least I have been to Sasoon dock now.
Stopped for a coffee break, good strong coffee, now I am sprinting back up the road, well not so many people are checking out my walk now, at least 2 never looked. The splints are helping.
Snap and bed.
Mumbai is a rundown city, but could be really beautiful, the diffent buildings are fantastic, it has coast to either side, it is green. I just wished everyone who talks to you wasn't after dosh.
I have given something back to the city though. Everyone to a person is intrigued by my walk.
I'll be back.