Monday, December 28, 2009

The Adventure Continues: Taxis

When exploring a new city, you're often at the mercy of the locals. One local in particular tends to have more weight than others. This local is the taxi driver. During our group trip in the north, we had a car and driver which means we never used cabs. Since returning to Mumbai, we take taxis everywhere. It has been a learning experience with each ride and with just a couple days left I think we're getting the hang of it.

During my first couple of days, I was taught how to read a rickshaw meter. Taxis here have meters too, but there's a fare sheet that has some sort of government sponsored conversion to higher prices.

1. Fixed fares are always more expensive (and if they're set by the taxi, you're likely getting screwed)
2. 99% of the taxis when using a meter will convert to a higher price than you should be charged
3. Always ask to see the fare sheet if a fare sounds high
4. Most taxis whether or not they actually have it will claim they don't have change

It has been one adventure after another. Tonight we grabbed a taxi on our return from dinner. He wanted 250 rupees to which we replied no, metered or we'll grab another cab. He agreed. Surprisingly he took a rather direct route to our hotel. We asked how much when we arrived, he told us 180 rupees which was more than the 135 rupees we spent to get to dinner. Not to mention we walked a little towards the hotel afterwards. We asked for the fare sheet and he deceased the price to 134 rupees. I asked to see the sheet, the fare should be 107 rupees. Had it been after midnight, 134 rupees would have been correct. I hate to feel like I'm getting ripped off in my country or any other simply because I don't know the city. I've decided hotels should give a little tutorial on local transportation via taxi if they know you're a foreign traveler and will be using them often.

I realize in US terms this may seem petty. However, traveling abroad, I've also learned that you should think of currency in terms of the country you're in, not your home country. Otherwise everything you do is only $5 or only $20 and regardless, only, adds up quickly.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Itinerary

We arrived in Mumbai on the morning (12a) of the 13th. Three nights including the first were spent in Mumbai with locals and natives. We shopped for sarees for the wedding and visited a classmate's aunt, who is a true entrepreneur. We practiced a dance for the wedding that will get more laughs from our other friends attending than applause. All in all, a great start to a legendary trip.

The morning of the 15th we headed to Delhi and our journey looks as follows:

We stayed in each city one night unless otherwise noted.

Jaipur (two nights)
Sand Dunes (outside Jaisalmer)

It has been my boyfriend and two classmates since leaving Mumbai. We've managed to stay safe, do a lot and see a lot, though I can honestly say, we're all looking forward to staying in one place for a bit. And no offense to my vegetarian readers, but we long for some solid protein as we find most of Rajasthan is veg.

We're back to Mumbai on Christmas day, just in time to be decorated with henna. The rest of our trip will be spent attending the wedding and exploring Mumbai. It will be fun to get into the city after spending most our time in the suburbs at the beginning of the trip.

In other news, I'm taking an interview call tonight, 4p EST, which is 2:30a India time. Should be interesting.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

And you thought New York was bad

I've entered the land of the horns. Driving in India is a daily experience. I'm not quite sure there are rules, but people stop at red lights, most the time. Lines on the road? What are those? Drivers often pass on the right (likely due to the British style cars - driver on the right) and honk as they do so. If you need to pass through an intersection, you inch in until something decides to stop. Eventually they all stop and it is before they risk hitting you.

If it moves, it goes on the road. Cars, rickshaws - electric and bicycle, motorcycles, bicycles, cows, goats, donkeys, bulls and people. In fact, I even saw two camels today.

Cars often lay in a zigzagged formation and though I think the speed limit is 50 km per hour, I don't think you could go faster if you tried. People try to sell you stuff when you're sitting at lights and I find they harass Americans more. It surprises me that they never get hit. I suppose I'm even more surprised by the fact that I haven't seen an accident yet. I'm not used to being able to reach out and touch the car next to me. I'd hate to be a bus driver in this country.

We had a case on Tata motors during first year. The Indians tried to explain the essence of traffic and driving in India. Clearly, I didn't understand until today.

The lack of road signs also amazes me, not that our driver had a clue where to go anyhow. We have yet to use a map. And I'm not sure if GPS exists. It is typically my savior at home. However, we have asked everybody for directions and have found more informed than not.

The daily adventure that is driving provides much entertainment. Given that we will continue this adventure in the car for the next 8 days, I anticipate more stories.

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Friday, December 11, 2009


In three hours my alarm will be blaring! I'm not sure what took me so long to pack and I dread the day that I pack for Sweden. At least the weather in India is comfortable, no super large sweaters and only one heavy jacket for NYE in NYC! I'm excited and nervous. I'm not sure what to expect, but regardless, it's going to be an adventure.
Wishing everyone out there happy holidays and happy new year!! CHEERS.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


And that's a wrap! Today was the last day of Q2 class for Second Years. I'm five finals away from having one more semester left at Darden, half of which will be spent somewhere very foreign to me. I sat down with an SSE exchange student today to ask what may seem like silly questions. I wanted to know how students dressed for class. If they use computers as much as we do at Darden (as this determines whether I purchase a new battery). I asked how people dress to go out on the weekends and what time nightlife shuts down. I learned that she has a significant other at home, so I inquired as to if she used Skype or another service to keep in contact. Her advice was to purchase a webcam as it changes the dynamics of just talking to each other (and it's MUCH cheaper in the US). I also wanted to know if she purchased a cell phone while here. Overall, the conversation was informative and has me very excited for the experience to come.

Of course, between that experience and me is a trip to India, New Years in New York, five finals and a trip to Louisville, KY for a second, second round interview. Yesterday, I had a phone interview, that went quite well. By the end, I was being asked my availability to fly out for another round of in person interviews. Unfortunately, my travel schedule does not allow much flexibility, so I fly out on Monday night and return Tuesday afternoon. Though we have finals, I'm thankful and lucky they are all take home. The company was nice enough to show concern, except I told them that I would worry about finals and all they needed to worry about was travel arrangements. I thought that was fair.

"Darden Prom" is this Friday. Though you don't need a date, many people are under the misconception that "Darden Prom" mirrors high school prom. While I'm sure all the girls will spend just as much on dresses and hair, I think Darden prom is one of the best events of the year. It's a time to relax and enjoy some holiday cheer with friends before everyone parts for winter break. Further, the event raises money for BGiA through a live auction. Just like any other charity event, the more they drink, the loser they are with their pocket books.

So much is going on these days, that I should be focused on finals. Instead, I'm writing this blog post and contemplating one of my few TNDC attendances this year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Need a Reason to Party?

My mom loves to throw parties. I think it's more an excuse to bring people together and have a good laugh, but who am I to judge? Like most people, I love to attend parties. Recently, mom had a fantastic idea. My god-sister, who has accomplished more in her 17 years than many people do in a lifetime, is turning 18 on Friday. Her parents live outside of Portland and are headed to San Francisco to visit my parents. So, in good spirit, my mom thought she'd throw a party. Not just any party though. This is an 18th birthday party for her god-daughter, who by the way is not attending. She has requested that every attending guest (which means all of her friends, who themselves are likely over 50) bring a small gift that will be sent home with my god-sister's parents. Talk about crazy!! And as mom says, if nothing else, "it gives you something to talk about", and I couldn't agree more. I think this world needs a little more entertainment with slightly crazy ideas!