The power’s out across the whole city. So I guess this is a good time to shout out to some of the characters I have met over the last few weeks. There seems to be about two good guys for every scam artist, a respectable ratio.
In Jodhpur, my sincere gratitude goes to Ramit, the propritor of my first hotel. He co-signed my Indian SIM card, sorted me with some cash on the first day and found me a bed for two more nights when I need one. Top man.
In Jaipur, Tamil was my speedy driver when I was raiding cash points at dawn. Resourceful fellow. In Udaipur, my cab man Ghanesh showed me around rural Rajasthan and detoured to some great photo sites when he found out about my camera.
In Mumbai, Bhatman the Parsi restauranter for being such good fun, and the Sikh hostel boss for helping me to sort out a scammer. And finally, Guru the tailor in Goa knocked me up a new pair of shorts in record time when nothing he had would fit me.
Now we come to the villains. In Mumbai, I met an Indian-British fellow called Grenville who was in a bind, having been mugged the day before and lost his passport. He was looking for a way to visit the UK consulate in Delhi.
I spent about an hour with the guy assessing his options, and his story was a little odd. He claimed to be from Kensington and had a brother at Ealing hospital, but he seemed a little relaxed for a guy a few hours away from sleeping on he street. I told him I would pay his train ticket if Ealing hospital switchboard would confirm his brother worked there. I called and, alas, no luck for him. Then I kept being polite and resourceful until he made an excuse and left. I did buy him a coke, but he had some charming stories so that’s fair trade.
My hostel boss later told me that is was unlikely the guy was even British; call centres here teach accents, elocution and ‘local knowledge’ to their operators. It’s so racist types in the U.K. don’t burst a blood vessel when they call their bank and hear a foreign accent. I think there was a scene about it in Slumdog millionaire.
There have been a few taxi guys who tried to get payment twice, hoping I’d forgotten.
In Udaipur, a ten year old kid followed me for a mile asking for money. When he figured I wasn’t going to give him any, he distracted me and led me into a low roof, then ran off laughing when I banged my head.
Any establishment that advertises they take a credit card then refuses my MasterCard goes on my naughty list. Do not mess with the cashflow.
But my Spectacular Prat Award 2016 has to go to the Georgian guy who walked off with my bag at Delhi airport, almost torpedoing my entire trip. Congratulations dude, you earned it.
Anyway, I’m in Kerela, looking forward to a canoe tour up the backwaters tomorrow.