The first sentence I have written in my journal about India is, “Well…this is going to be interesting…” That’s pretty foreboding and pretty damn accurate.
We arrived in Bangalore after coming from Sydney via Singapore, the most ridiculously high-end airport ever. The flight was full of screaming babies and the faint smell of musky oils and spices. On the bright side, despite leaving the comforts of Western culture, we were looking forward to cheaper living in India.
Our flight touched down around midnight and we headed to the street to find a taxi. Along the way lots of guys started heckling us trying to get us into a cab. #1 rule of tourism, if someone’s trying really hard to sell you something, they’re probably trying to rip you off. I stated my opinion that we should walk to the street and try to get a metered taxi and then shut my mouth because I had read a lot of things presenting India as not so great for females and didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. The next thing I know Mark has “made friends” with one of the drivers who has agreed to take us to our hotel for the low low price of 4500 rupees – which is roughly $80 USD. Which would be reasonable in New York, maybe, but after looking at a map before arriving we had estimated our taxi to be no more than $10 USD. I said nothing because in previous interactions I had found that vocalizing disagreement results in name calling.
Since we didn’t have the funds to pay for the ride, the nice man from the airport scurried us into a cab with a driver and told him to take us to an ATM. We pulled over in a run down lot with a shoeless, bearded guy sleeping on the steps in front of the entrance to the ATM. Seems legit. Aracely and I exchanged glances that said something like “What the fuck are we doing?!” in the car as Mark ran out to get some money. A thirty minute drive later, over half built roads with seemingly no traffic lanes, signals or rules we turned onto a dark street where abundant stray dogs were roaming about, barking and howling. We pulled up to a garbage dump and the driver stopped the car and pointed across the street to our hotel whose lights were out and doors were closed. Awesome.
As the other two dealt with paying the bill I rolled my suitcase up to the hotel hoping the automatic doors would open for me. Thankfully they did and the attendant sleeping on the couch groggily woke up and stumbled behind the counter. Another guy I assumed was the bellhop stumbled to his feet as well and stood next to the elevator by my luggage. I told the attendant we had a reservation, he looked at me blankly and wordlessly shoved some forms in my face. Forms which stated that unmarried opposite gender rooms would not be tolerated, but fortunately that was overlooked.
Forms completed, the bellhop took Mark’s suitcase up to the room while Aracely and I carried our own – gotta love Indian chivalry. As soon as we opened the door I realized I was in a “I’m going to be using my own sheets and pillowcase” kind of situation. There were gaping holes in the walls where electric fixtures had been installed. The shower head was right next to the toilet with no door or curtain separating the two. There was mold and soap scum on all the walls. There was no toilet paper. The headboard of the bed where I would be sleeping appeared to have someones greasy ass print still on it.
And as it turned out, once we were able to connect to wifi we looked up the price of the cab and needless to say we were immensely ripped off. As in, for an additional $20 we could’ve taken a helicopter to the hotel. We should’ve splurged – the story would’ve been much better. Yay India.