Friday, February 08, 2008

How to take a rickshaw

Delhi is a large, sprawling city, with poor public transportation and roads that are actually hostile to pedestrians. So, we have been forced to take several rickshaws (little three-wheel taxis).

Here's what you have to do:

1. Approach a group of rickshaws (near a train station or major intersection). A lone rickshaw near the hotel will demand a very high price and won't negotiate. Alternatively, stop a passing rickshaw on the street. Other rickshaws should also stop to see what's going on.

2. State your destination to the driver. They will agree and tell you to get in.

3. Ask the price (say "Rupees").

4. The driver will eventually state a ridiculously high price.

5. Walk away. Sometimes, the driver will offer a lower price. Sometimes, other drivers will offer you a lower price. Sometimes, all of the drivers form a cartel and claim that is the only price (in this case, you must walk off and find another group of rickshaws).

6. Keep stating the price you want to pay (we generally stick to what the guidebook recommends as there can be huge differences between cities).

7. Eventually, someone will agree to your price (or close to it).

8. Get into the rickshaw. If you are lucky and the driver is honest, you will soon arrive at your destination. Depending on the city and the traffic, you may fear for your life for the next few minutes as the rickshaw weaves its way through traffic, narrowly avoiding hundreds of collisions.

9. If you are unlucky, this is where the scams begin:

a) You can be taken to the wrong hotel or restaurant - often with a very similar name, and always with inflated prices to cover the driver's commission.

b) You can be taken to shop along the way. Sometimes you agree to the detour, in exchange for a reduction in fare (the driver will get a commission just for taking you). The stores always have inflated prices and poor quality, but you can always
walk out.

c) The driver can attempt to change the fare en-route. He can pretend that the fare is per-person, or say that 15 is really 50...

d) The driver can leave you in the middle of nowhere. This happened to us once when we took a cycle-rickshaw - he took us to an expressway and said that he wasn't allowed on and this was as close as he could get and then demanded full payment.

1 comment:

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