Never engage in a package deal that includes the words “package” or “deal”

I woke up the next day from a good nights sleep. I spoke with some Danish girls living next door, and as usual, i had to instantly ask them to speak English with me. I simply don’t get Danish.

This was my first good talk with people from the west, and it felt comforting. I talked some about where ive been and what I’ve paid, they looked at me and one of them said “Sorry, but I think you are paying way to much for your services”.

I had overheard them talking to the hotel manager the other day, they paid 600 each for their room, I paid 1200 for mine, and at this moment I realise Im paying for a double bedroom. I should have looked for this when I got the preview of my room!

After this chat, I really started to think alot about all my previous payments, my “deals” and if I had put way to must trust into some people.

When my coffee was finished my guide had appeared, with a motorbike. He would take me around town, a “deal” that only included some minor tip to the guide , as it was arranged by my driver Sanye. He introduced himself as Locash, I figured he must have low amounts of cash.

I asked him to take me to the ATM, and then to buy sunglasses. After the ATM machine he took me to the city temple, and I was asked to leave my shoes and cellphone outside, I didn’t really want to leave my cellphone, but could see that others was doing this. I also had a simcard inside that was indian vodaphone, and no money charged, so i couldn’t really see any way of them getting anything done with it, except stealing the whole thing. That would have been stupid of them.

I was given flowers to keep in my hand (wrapped in some paper) as we entered the temple. It was really nice inside, decorations where beautiful, and people where praying. We rang a bell, and Locash kept touching the stairs with his hand, upon which he touched his forehead, some kind of blessing.

We donated flowers to different gods, for luck and who knows… I mostly went along, with biggest respect. I just don’t mess or make fun of religion, especially not outside of Sweden.

Locash told me to keep some flowers, we where going down to the lake to donate them there. I kept the flowers, we went by bike, and as we arrived I once again put my shoes away. I looked down the lake. The whole city seemed to be surrounding it. The water looked as if someone had put oil into it, big spots of fat and dirt floating around all over. An old Indian woman was washing herself in it.
It reminded me of the Boom festival in portugal, where 50.000 people during five days where using the same small lake, to wash, to take a bath, and of course, some used it to take a piss and a shit. The last day of the festival it truly looked like shit. We saw this after taking a cooling bath (me and my crew). We where all sick for another 5 days. I decided to take no holy swim in the Pushka holy-water, if I would be asked to.

After donating some flowers, I was to meet a priest. For me, even if I don’t consider myself to be bound to any specific religion, I find life holy, and I have much respect for priests of all religions, they have a calm way of talking, and love for everyone.

The priest came down the stairs to me, dressed all in white. He sat down, and the following 15 minutes he guided me trough different prayers, that he had me repeat. Some of them was in Hindu, some in English. I was blessing my family, my luck, wealth, and business. I found the business part quite funny, how do i bless bussiness?

“Bless you, computers and system development, design and photoshop, may you bring me great fortune in google hitrates”

I thought this to myself, but its obviously not what we said. During the whole period, i was holding a coconut, and the man put a mix of yellow and red powder on my forehead. “For good luck he said”. It felt good.

“Now it is also important to know, that the holy people who meet in Pushka have no money, and come here as pilgrims, in need of food and drink” he continued, “The cost for this is covered by donations from people in the villages, and everyone who come here to get blessed”. He told me the cost for all holy people to share a meal for one day was 1000 rupies. The common thing to do is to pay 1000 rupees for all members of my family. Now depending on how I count I would have to pay +4000 rupees for that. I reached for my pocket and gave the priest 1000 rupees. He said “What about the other family?”, I quickly said “This is what I can give”.

“You happy sir?”.
“I’m happy” I said.

He went away and I got picked up by my guide again, we went and bought the stuff I requested: A small book to write in, a pen, and sunglasses. On top of this a small bag to carry it all. Everything was bought at shops with people obviously in connection to the guide.

We arrived soon at the hotel again, I tipped him, and he went off. I was greeted by Sanye, and he told me tonight we drink Rum. “Sure thing!”, I’ve had fun drinking with the Indian people, Sanye included. I told him that the camel-ride I took, had only been one hour (instead of two) and that there was no one there to take the money from me when I got back. “Dont worry sir you pay me and I give them later”. Sanye told me the previous day, that the prize was 600 rupees for the ride, and I figured that it would be less now that I only took one hour.

I went up and spoke to the Danish girls again, telling them about the temple thing. They laughed at me. “They made you pay 1000 rupees!?, we paid 100!”. Turns out a friend of theirs paid ten. I was angry, I was being fucked over again, by a priest! The irony of it also struck me, being blessed “for good luck”, and then getting scamed by the same priest, he must be laughing his way to the bar.

From this point on all my mind was thinking was:

  • How to get rid of Sanye
  • How to not buy the “indian traditional suit” he insisted on me getting. It would get half price at certain places in India, and it would protect me from getting scammed. I realize today that this suit is probably rather an invite to scammers. “Look at that looser, he bought the suit, he will buy poop if we sell it as chocolate”.
  • How to not let him take me to any more places after Jaypur (that I’ve already paid for).
  • How to do this without creating a fuzz. The man looked like a fucking pimp, and I had overherad him screaming at people over phone. I really don’t wanted to make any type of problem with this man.
Later that night we had some rum to drink. As with the Whisky the previous day Sanye was paying for it, and he called some guy who brought us Cola, mineral water,  and soda, to use for making drinks. Someone came with Papadams (like crisps) that where great. I appreciated this and we made lotsof jokes. Some of his friends joined us.This far of my trip I had more or less stuck to the hotels food, it was always clean and well cooked, a bit more expensive but it felt safe to keep my stomach away from the worst dirt at this part of my trip. I noticed that Sanye was always wanting me to stay at the hotel, and not go anywhere by myself. I figured this is to maintain better business for his friends at the hotel, which Isn’t that strange. He made it sound like other food wasn’t safe…

This night, I really wanted to go off myself, I wanted company by NO ONE, and I wanted to eat in town, and meet other people. I was looking forward on Sanyes reaction to this.

As I told him, he simply said “Ok!”, and I was a bit surprised. He added “bring me back a girl ok?” he laughed. I looked at his friend, and told him “Ill bring back Mr.John” (My camel the previous day). Sanyes friend was laughing his ass off, I was laughing, Sanye didn’t laugh at all, and it made me happy somehow to insult him just a tiny bit. I’m so tired of the Indian men insisting that they are constantly surrounded by women, when they are in fact not. Their full of shit when they talk about women, and especially western women.
Sanye was now talking to his friend in Hindu, which happened alot, nothing strange about it, but I was quite alert at this moment, even after half a bottle of Rum. I noticed Sanye was waving the palm of his hand in my direction under the table, while talking to his friend, who was just listening.
One minute later his friend turns to me, “I like you, you are like brother and friend to me, nice to meet you”. I appreciated his smile, and we had a toast. After this he continued. “You should not go to town yourself, its dangerous you must understand, many people rob, many people get sick from food”. It was so clear to me what they where doing. Sanye added “You should listen to this man, he is like brother to you”. I just kept thinking “Fuck off….F U C K   O F F”. I kept my calm, insisting that I will go to town, myself. They said something in the likes of “Ok, suit yourself sir”. “Dont mind if i do!” i said, drank my rum and went of for my room.
Up in my room I was making all sorts of conspiracies in my head. Would they send someone to rob me? Would they send someone to my room while Im away?
I couldn’t care less, I was angry and eager to get out (and a bit drunk). In my room, I took 1000 rupees, put them in my pillow, another 1000 in the top drawer (for someone to find easily). The last 3000 I put with my credit card and my ID, put it inside my passport, and taped it with medical tape on top of my AC machine. It required me to stand on top of the bedroom table, and stretch all i could. It would be impossible for anyone not taller than 1,75m to get there. In my pockets I kept merely a few hundred to spend in town, as I went in. At this points I was fucking James bond going on a mission.
In town everything was starting to close, and it was hard to find a good place to go. I stumbled upon some people from England, having Chai. I was invited and we talked. Once again everything I was concerned of going on got confirmed by them. I had paid way to much for everything, I should not trust this man, and in fact no Indian people trying to act as if they are helping. I had paid 15.000 rupees for having my driver for three days, taking me to two different cities.
Most likely even half of that price would have been a scam. This means the whole “tourist office” I went to was a scam, and so was Ricky who brought me there.
I was spending some time thinking about how the scam went. I met Ricky on the streets of Delhi, earning my trust by expecting no money from me at all, joining me and showing me to different places. He insisted on not getting the train-tickets from the station, as it was a mess of cues and hectic Indian people. He took me to the tourist office (a place i expect to be honest).  They told me that trains to Varanasi was impossible due to a conference, everything was fully booked. Going down south would be a problem as half of the trains where canceled due to “the big Indian fog”. I realize now how stupid this is, but when you talk to a guy in a tourist office, you expect things to be true. They told me it might take weeks to find a train again. I took time with Ricky outside the office before making decisions, having a cigarette. He told its wise of me to not book the hotels trough them (as i had already insisted on not doing), but that the price for the minibus was a good price (15000 rupees). I felt Ricky was on my side, Ricky probably felt like a poker player with a royal flush. His pokerface was priceless! I wonder what percentage he got from the “package-deal”…
Anyhow, I went back to the hotel, no robbers, and no one had been in my room, good.
The next day I was fully focused as I had my morning coffee, focused to get out of this. When I was about to pay, the people at the restaurant gave me a bill including 4 colas, 4 mineral water and 4 sodas, for order the previous two nights. Sanye was having me pay for everything but the actual whiskey and rum, meaning i probably paid more than him, and its stuff that he had ordered! I told this to the people at the restaurant but they talk their way around it. FINE. I paid it.
I went down and sat in the car with Sanye, time to go to Jaypur. I told him we should stop by the camel safari and pay. “Dont worry sir i pay yesterday, you pay me”. I said “Ok”, as Id seen this one coming. I then replied “so you get me good prize?”. “600 rupees sir, as agreed” he said. “Yes I know Sanye, but I went only for 1 hour, and we said 2 hours. You give me good prize for this no?”. He just did the classical Indian head waving thing and said “It’s OK sir”. This time I raised my voice a bit, “Of course you say its OK, you’re not paying!”. He went silent, I went silent. He kept his eyed on the road.I dont care about those 300 rupies, my main idea of this was to make him understand that I’m putting down my foot. He knows now I’ve talked to other people, and gaining understanding of whats going on. That was enough for me.
Arriving in Jaypur he tells me “Ok sir, i take you to one temple, then we go shopping, you talk to your friends and you think about i take you to Agra (the next city of his marvelous plan)”.
I said “no”.
“No what sir?” he replied.
“No shopping, no temple, no Agra, you leave me in Jaypour, thank you very much”.
He had no problems in letting me go, he must have understood the situation. He was making a fuzz about the tip I give him (to small). He said he was not to be held account for tourist office prices, and that he had bought me whiskey. I told him he already owe me from the initial payment to the office (He had no change the first day, and i was testing if he would remember this, which “he didnt”). I also told him that I’ve paid for everything but the whiskey. He was silent. I gave him an OK tip, and we said good buy, no hard feelings.
I learned alot from this experience, and it cost me shitloads, but i consider it my donation to India, and something that should be calculated in every budget of a person going here the first time. You will get scamed, dont take it personally. Sanye also thought me the following, not by saying it to me, but by his reactions to my different ways of speaking:
People in India will not give you the amount of respect you deserve. They give you the amount of respect you demand.
When I was insecure and over-friendly, he fucked me over. When I was very clear of what I wanted and nailed my eyes into his, he would show me full respect. This probably goes for the whole planet, but it shows so much here, and Im grateful to Sanye for being my master in this.

Sanye you fucking hustler, have a nice life ( I do wish you the best), come to Sweden and ill show you to the gamblers at Drottninggatan. You can win loads of cash from them…

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4 thoughts on “Never engage in a package deal that includes the words “package” or “deal”

  1. obby

    haha för roligt alltså, everyday them hustlin’ hustlin’

  2. åsa

    Oj Oj Oj … hade glömt bort hur det är så där första gången = ) tack, fick mej ett skönt skratt…härligaste indien!!!
    Ser fram emot att få följa dina tolkningar och upplevelser!!!
    super massa kärlek

  3. Jenny

    ooooh haha..så kul att få läsa om dina upplevelser och därmed uppleva mina egna igen genom dig. Fast jag måste säga att jag var kanske inte fullt lika blåögd som dig hiihi men som ensam tjej på resa Måste man ju vara superalert på luriga män =) och det finns det gott om…tror inte jag träffade fler än en handfull indiska män som faktiskt gick att känna tillit till. Trist men sant.

    Om du drar till varanasi vilket jag verkligen tycker du ska (trots dimma och konferenser=) så leta upp Barlam papa vid burning gat…han har en liten kiosk på en vagn och ett stort hjärta. Du kan nog fråga vemsomhelst där i krokarna för han kände varenda kotte i kvarteret.
    Han var en av dem som bjöd hem en på middag hos sin familj och visade runt men aldrig aldrig bad om pengar…

    Lycka till på din fortsatta färd! stora kramar från Jenny och ett stockholm där första snöflingorna föll ikväll och där julhetsen på stan redan kickat igång. Njut av din tid! =)

    • Varanasi ar fantastiskt, lyckades ta mig hit med tag som bara var 36 timmar sent att komma till plattformen, och 11 timmar sent fram till destination, fantastiskt 🙂

      Om jag ar borta vid burning ska jag spana efter mannen, jag har faktiskt traffat ett par Indier som ar sa trevliga som du beskriver, sa min bild av Indien har blivit avsevart battre sedan jag skrev.

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