Friday, 26 May 2017

One eventually get cheated in India …. Its only a matter of time.

I was on the journey to Ahmedabad from Mumbai … late in the evening I was headed to the bus stand for an overnight bus ride. Taking a walk in the rain to the bus waiting point I finally used the poncho I bought in Peru. The so called bus stop was a small little shack of a travel agency. I was semi shocked I guess for I was not used to the bus system in India but then again what the hell …. 

The agency was a man just minding his own business … everyone just wait at the road looking at the massive traffic jam and hoping a bus would pull up. None of the bus pulled up and sometimes you see one person stops a bus for a second before hopping on. 

Luckily the bus I was going on was late …. I manage to decipher the bus code system in time … else I would have missed the bus and no one to help me with it. The bus all had a name written on the top of the bus like a dark screen and it is plastered big in bright colours so one can spot it a mile away even at night. The ticket gives the name of the bus … so all those people waiting by the road was looking out for busses with the right name …. 

Fortunately I was looking too and not waiting inside the crappy travel agent shack and when the bus did come I had to flag it and ran after it … I was the only boarding that bus from that junction. The travel agent did nothing …. If I did not see the bus I would have missed it and left holding a useless ticket and with no place to stay the night. 

Ok so I was in the bus now … got my sleeper bunk and it was air-con …. A quick look and no toilet on the bus … this was not South America ….. I am regretting the bus ride already. No sheets too … I so miss AC class on the train …. And no blanket nor pillow …. Air-con was freaking cold too … it now remind me of the greyhound bus in USA …. Luckily I pinched the sheets from the train … it was now my thin sheet of blanket which was all it needed to keep my body heat with me.

The bumbs, the horn, the sudden swaying … the bus was trying his best to get out of the Mumbai traffic and it was almost driving me sick …. Motion sick …. I hate the bus already

Once we were out and on the road it was not that bad thou ….. stolen sheet for a blanket, a toilet break every 4 hours and but then early morning and I got jerk woken up by a splash of dripping cold wet air con water leaking from the overhead vents. I hate the bus. 

Reached Ahmedabad and guess what .. the bus chucks me out outside the city … I so miss the train now …. A bit slower is still better than a bus. Then again the bus was not even faster than the train … it took 12 hours, 2 hours longer than the train allocated time … f*ckers …. Rs 1700 too.

This is where the cheating started …

When the bus spits me out, vultures of Auto-rickshaw drivers with big grins was fighting to see who can eat the delicious yellow man. I was in the outskirts of the city …. Nothing nearby to help me get to the city …. Rickshaw is all there is …. And they know it ….

I settle for the first guy who spoke …. What was I to do anyway …. Plus when I asked how much he said meter …. Fishy but then again I really did not have a choice …. And after a long journey decision making aren’t that good anymore. Inspecting the meter it was those mechanical distance counter like one normally see on a car or motorbike. Rigged to show the distance in numbers …. I was guessing it was tuned differently to show the price of the journey, …. Not electronic anyway so how bad could it be ….

He took me to where I wanted to go approximately since I had no idea where I was going, anywhere other than the area near the train station and the sights … Bandra colony …. Another light up glint in his eyes as he realized I dun have a hotel booking and he brought me to the first recommendation … good hotel he said ….. 

How Much I asked the hotel manager …

Rs 2000 …..

No …. 

As the hotel manager tries to desperately cling to his only customer, the price actually drop till Rs1200 …. F*ckers …

The second hotel was much better …. They had a board and it was clearly stated Rs 700 for a night in non – ac …. I could do with that and settle on it. 

Time to pay the rickshaw driver …. The meter had jumped till 467 …I thought it was a long ride but it was still high …. I gave him 500 and left it at there and he left ….. Later chit chatting with the hotel desk guy, the hotel guy told me it was a little high … or rather very high …. 

How does one charge with the meters anyway in Ahmedabad I asked …. 

The meter was this round thing at the side of the cab …. But then that was not the meter but the point counter based on the kilometres travelled …. Then one has to ask the rickshaw driver for the price chart … you then convert the points to the price in Rs ….

The Auto-Rickshaw Meter in Ahmedabad
Going on other rickshaws with this knowledge visiting sights in Ahmedabad I studied one … and it was about 250 which was the fee I was soppose to pay the first ride … that guy got me I guess …. Sooner or later you get caught in their scheme … 

Everyone gets cheated in India sooner or later …

Travelled on : Aug 2015

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Exploring the Slums in Bombay – Mumbai

I decided to spend a day on a paid walking tour …. Priced at Rs 500 but with tips it came to Rs 600. It was not the usual kind of walking tour for it was a walking tour into the slums of Dharavi at the heart of Mumbai city India. It was also one of the scenes from the famous movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which I have not seen. 

The tour was unique for, slum tours was done by many tour operators made of independent people trying to earn a buck but I went with this organization recommended by the hostel called Reality Tour. It was a NGO …. I dunnu how much I trust NGO nowadays for it just means so many things and nothing sometimes. 

They claimed that 80% of their nett profit after tax is given back to the slums in the form of community education and help program. Nett profit as I heard it means they still make a profit. Big companies as far as I know takes a lot of salary and only produce a small nett profit in the end of the year. Still no point judging I guess. 

We were told to get to Mahim Train station and locate this Café where the guide would meet us. We were also warned that some random strangers might pose as the company and we were to look out for the actual guide which should be wearing a company t-shirt. True enough a guy in plain white shirt tried to pass off as the company but Zack (from England but is a mix race of British and Thai) decided to spend international call to get the hostel guy to find us the right guide. The guide came in good uniform and we were set on our way.

There is so many lechers in India 

The tour took us into the slum which was a misconception of the name explained the guide. Slums means people who occupy government land without permission. That’s all. So a slum is technically a free place to stay. Reality tour mission was to bust the misconception of slums and to show people the actual reality to the world. Slum has a very negative word and is not really what it describe when we see it. 

The slum was quite organized. There was heavy industrial area which was basically hazardous to anyone who works there. Mainly on recycling they showed us a few of them. The production of plastic crushers in factories, homemade with steel and welding’s and simple motorized mechanism to actually crushing all kinds of plastic they could find, melting and dyeing them to form plastic pallets before it was sold to big factories to be made into new plastic products. 

Recycling of paint cans … stripping of paint, marks, logo and labels and make new for reuse and after a few times of recycling paint cans the cans themselves is being cut and bend and used as sheets for building more slum houses.

They say there is no waste in Dharavi. 

The most highly paid work was the aluminium recycling … here they collect all the aluminium cans and melt them in a small room which is filled with toxic fumes and chimneys that pump out who knows what like a train hopper. Melted and formed into pure aluminium bricks they are then sold to big factories who use them to make new product. 

These industries only survive because of cheap labour …. Labours was intensive in sorting and making all these rubbish pure enough for the factory to use. If it were sorted before recycling factories would have ran the job more efficiently and cheaper and much safer but then most people heap their rubbish together in 3rd world country. 

Then the next industry was located further away from the heavy one … the non-hazardous to health sits between the hazard and the residential area of the slums. There was large industrial no food inspection bakery which supplies puff to all of India … 

*Gasps*… I probably ate some of those somewhere in India

Then there was the leather factory, wood work and even hand rolled manufactured papadam by household wife as part time job.

The residential sits at the far end far away as possible from the toxic hazard and these are a clusterfuck of house shacks, string and woven so close together that you have to kiss someone if he was coming from the opposite direction. They are not poor thou …. A keen eye will notice the hi tech plasma TV in the small house of 5 by 5, computers, and a hoard of satellite dishes which supply endless TV channels to the slums. 

It was free land ….. if you stay there long enough it will be yours …. 

Interestingly no one pester us for money … they have pride here in the slums …. Hard work drive them but they have the pride of one who knows he is better than a beggar. 

Note : No photos in the slums ... coz some stuff seriously is against health codes ...
Travelled on : Aug 2015

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A short stop in Mumbai

Mumbai is the new name …. While the old one rings with Bombay during the British colony. Hence Mumbai was one of the more civilized city in India that have seen with more historical buildings and monuments that is not related to temples and palaces.

Colonial Buildings in Mumbai
Truth be told, Mumbai was not attractive enough to hold me more than two night there. I had to move on quick for in a way I felt that Mumbai was a standard metropolitan city …. I got the vibe that it was a type of city where if you know friends to go crazy with, it could be a beautiful adventure behind closed doors but alas I was not patient enough to do it alone.
Beach by Mumbai
Still this city has its own charm in India … for one, it’s a city next to a beach facing west … how many cities could you catch a beautiful sunset everyday … I just love those kind of cities … nothing like a stroll along the beach after a long day seeing the sunset. Sentimental wise I was not alone and many locals go on walks by the city beach romantically

Romantic is also something you dun see often in India as well. Mumbai was one place where you could see girls of India come out from home leisurely. I have to say, I kinda like the view here in Mumbai.

Port Gate where the British Set Sail Leaving India
The other main attraction was the slums all around Mumbai …. The slums on its own is worthy of a single post which I will have to do next after this lazy post

Not many hostels in Mumbai and the one I stayed was actually a house. Thing is about India and addresses … the numbers does not line up in any order … number 1 house and number 2 house can be on two far end side of the street and still has the same street name … there is no logic … best was to ask for direction and hopefully don’t get a random pointy finger which could also mean go away.

The old town Mumbai or better known as Bombay looked very much like London if you can ignore certain parts and imagine certain parts. It’s a beautiful city, very business-like and a city where you will hear locals speak English like it was their native tongue to each other.

Most Expensive Hotel in Mumbai .... I think
Traveled on  : Aug 2015