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Tuk Tuk 101

It's 3 AM  Delhi time and I've given up on sleep. On my first full day in Delhi I took Tuk Tuk 101. Regarding travel planning, I am very good at reading and listening to advice and learning the hard way.

Numerous bloggers, guidebooks and friends who’ve traveled to India will tell you some rules...

  1. Establish a price.

  2. Know where you'd like to go and be clear about it.

  3. Say no ... a lot.

On Connaught circle, there are several 'helpful' gents who will advise you. Under the guise of being very nice they explain they don’t want your money and are just being nice.  I was encouraged to take a Tuk Tuk instead of walking around. The man stated I should have someone drive me as walking would have me harassed with poop thrown at my shoes. 

With the thought of poop, I asked a Tuk Tuk driver to take me to "a coffee shop”, a very general location. We set a price. 20 rupees.  That's about 25 cents, a no brainer.  As we were going to the shop he offered to take me on to the market for a total of 50 rupees and he'd wait for me to finish coffee.  Sounds good right? This was my second mistake. But, with coffee in my belly I thought the day was looking up. It wasn't.

Next stop was not the market.  “It’s closed,” he said. I found out later that the market generally opens around 11 on a Monday.

Instead, he took me to a railway ticketing office.  I told him no thanks.  We start going again. Next stop was a diamond market suggested by my Connaught Place friend.  No thank you!  I was showing my impatience and the driver was on to me.

A small part of me was concerned I’d been kidnapped by a tiny Indian.  I think I outweighed him by 20 pounds. This would normally make me sad but, I was plotting escape and knew I had the advantage.    

I used rule number 2.  I said, "just take me to India Gate".  India Gate was public and well known.  I knew was close as I’d passed it on the way to Connaught Place.

My tiny Indian Tuk Tuk driver started to suggest yet another stop. I said pull over in a very big girl voice. As I’m walking away, he asks 'what he did wrong?'  I end up feeling guilty enough and renegotiate a ride to India gate.  Only India Gate.

He says ok and silently drives me to my new spot. I paid him 50 rupees for a stressful ride to nowhere.

At India gate, I walked around for an hour. It’s a wide open park space with a "... memorial to 74,187 soldiers of the Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War." The park is a nice respite (unless you count the 10 people trying to take my picture for a small fee of course).

As my friend Cecilia was due in from London, I headed back to my hotel having never seen a market....And that friends, is how to be kidnapped in a Tuk Tuk by a tiny Indian.


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