(6.1) Incredible India - The Rip-off

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Feb 5, 2017 03:01
The fortyish tuk-tuk driver wore a voluminous white robe and a Sikh turban around his head. Wrapped around his neck was a towel, which he used to wipe the profuse sweat from his face every now and then as he drove. He looked over his shoulder and asked us where we came from.

“We come from China,” I replied.

“Hmm. India, China. Good buddies!” he yelled in a voice loud enough to cut through the wind and the rumble of the engine, giving a thumbs up.

I smiled, saying nothing. “Who knows what’s exactly on his mind,” I thought. I'd heard that the two nations had had a border conflict decades earlier, though because this period of history was hardly mentioned in China, national memory of the event had gradually faded to oblivion. I didn’t know, however, if this was the same in India.

After chugging along about twenty minutes, we arrived at one of the houses of the travel agency. It was dim and freezing inside. A chill ran down my spine. Was it the cold or the fear? I couldn't tell.

The driver stayed outside and pointed to a little room down the hallway, saying, “That’s the ticket office.” Just then, a young man popped out of nowhere, with a seemingly warm smile on his face, and led us into the room. But, soon after, he stepped out and slammed the door shut behind him.

My heart missed a beat. What was going on? It seemed suspicious, didn't it? Well, who knew anymore. I glanced at Wang, who appeared pleased. Perhaps he thought we’d met some good Samaritans and we’d found a shortcut to get our tickets. We sat down and the man opposite us started talking. “Welcome gentlemen! You guys want tickets from Jaipur to Agra, right?”

I quickly sized up the man, who was dressed up in a black suit and sat beside an old-fashioned computer. He drew out a map from a stack of papers, spread it over the table, and pushed it across. “See? This is the map of India. New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. This route is called ‘The Golden Triangle.’ If their visit is short, most foreigners will choose this route. You can join our package tour. Only costs $10,000…”








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