12 December, 2010

A Car and a Driver

We hired a car with driver to take us on the trip through Rajasthan.  Another frustrating experience. I can't complain about Gopal's driving. He was as good as I've seen, but in every other respect he was totally unprofessional.

1. We were told he speaks English. Well, my Hindi was twice as good as his English and that isn't saying much. The driver I use in Delhi said he spoke English perfectly--then how should he know; he doesn't speak English himself.
2.  We gave him Rs 10,000 in advance to cover his expenses, tolls, gasoline, etc. The first trick he tried was to get us to pay for the tolls when he encountered them. I had to remind him that he had received the Rs 10,000 to cover all that. 
3. We told him and his colleagues that we had picked our own hotels. He ignored that and took us to the hotel he chose. It was clean, but horrible . We were so tired when we arrived that first night, or I should say, I was so tired, I didn't want to fight with him. So it was my fault. And it never happened again.
    Let me explain why drivers take you to hotels and shops of their choice. At the hotels, they get a commission and a bed to sleep on: at the shops they get so much per head they bring in and a percentage of what you buy.
4.The night before we took the last trip back to Delhi, Gopal had obviously been drinking and came late and hung over to drive back. I was furious. We stopped every hour to get him a tea to sober him up. When I complained to his uncle, he said that Gopal could do what he wanted on his own time. So much for trusting people. 
5. The final blow: he wanted us to pay the remainder of the Rs 36,000 without giving us a receipt. I told him to go back and get a receipt book and he would get his money. He refused. So I waited for his uncle.

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