We arrived in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, and it was hectic and warm. The airport was full of people. Overwhelmed by the bustling surrounding us, accidentally, we took a non prepaid taxi. It was a mistake in our part and my fear came true: we became easy target for scams.
One Fine Day of (Unsuccessful) Scams
We asked the airport taxi driver to bring us to Prince Polonia hotel. I made a reservation as suggested by some travellers in Lonely Planet as it would be better to have a hotel booked on the first day arrival in New Delhi to avoid scams that could ripped off tourist money. However, in the middle of our way, the driver told us that he had to look for the location of the hotel at a “tourist information center”. We stopped in a small office, the driver asked Dutchie to join him to the office. Waiting inside a warm taxi made me anxious. I looked for Dutchie’s mobile phone and my diary with the hotel’s information. I almost followed these men into the office, when Dutchie and the taxi driver stepped out. Dutchie told me that the driver called our hotel and it was full booked, so we had to go to different hotel. “The new hotel has been arranged by the tourist office, we will go to another hotel,” he told me. Oh no, Dutchie fell into this scam…Inside the taxi I called Prince Polonia hotel immediately, and of course, the hotel was not full booked, and our room was ready. Dutchie was surprised by this news, thus I asked the driver to stop but he ignored me. Finally he stopped in front of a hotel that definitely not ours. I told him that I would not pay any rupees since he lied to us, we knew Prince Polonia was not full booked. We stepped out from the taxi and took our backpacks. The taxi driver begged us to pay, but I refused. I said that I would not pay him unless he bring us to the hotel as told. He promised, then he drove us to Prince Polonia Hotel which was only couple blocks from the other hotel. He suddenly knew the way to the hotel. We arrived safely. Yet, it was just a beginning to more scams. Welcome to New Delhi!
I would never forget our first day in New Delhi. It was not like in every our trip that we faced too many scams in one day. After the taxi driver’s scam, we encountered another five scams on the same day. The scams were varied but most of them involved rickshaw drivers. The rickshaw driver always tried to lure us to “tourist center”. I read some reviews that tourists bought fake trips and tickets or paid too much for train tickets or tour from such office. The scams were unsuccessful, thanks to Lonely Planet book and forum. Researching India before the visit was paid off.
The worst scam was when a rickshaw driver kept drove us to dark and empty alleyways after we refused to go to a tourist center (the agreement before we stepped in was clear, we wanted to go to India Gate and we did not want to go to any tourist centers, and he broke this agreement as we were inside his rickshaw). We asked him to stop if he insisted but he did not stop. He even said that we had to pay in dollar because we refused to go to tourist center (what?!!). I opened the rickshaw’s door that eventually the driver had to stop (otherwise the door would hit the electric poles). When he stopped, I went out from the rickshaw and screamed of how lousy he was, a liar and bla..bla..bla..(when I read my diary, I was sure back then I was really angry). I walked through the dark alley, hoping that I would find big street (we did eventually). Dutchie followed me and only shrugged his shoulder to the driver who followed us and this time promised him that he would bring us to India Gate in rupee, no more tourist center. He said to the driver, “Well, we have to follow what a lady wants, sir and she does not trust you any more.” The driver left us searching our way out from the alleyways.
Still Enjoying New Delhi…
We thought the scams were bit too much but we still enjoyed New Delhi. We went to Parikrama Restaurant, it was a revolving restaurant with beautiful view of New Delhi. We treated ourselves after such day. The food was really good. Later that day we walked through the Connaught Place where we met two reporters from Hidustan Times who interviewed us about power cut issue in India, which was we had no clue of since it was our first day in India and our experience so far was being scammed here and there.
On the second day, we had splendid Indian breakfast at the hotel. Gosh, I love Indian food so much. I have to admit, one of our reasons to visit India was because I adore Indian food. I also found the Indian lassi and the masala tea served by the hotel were really delicious.
Somehow, no one tried to scam us on the second day. We visited Red Fort which is a huge fort built using red stones in 1648 by Mughal king Shah Jahan. The Mughal built the fort as his family residence when his plan to move the capital city from Agra to Delhi. The fort was huge and guarded heavily by army. It was an impressive complex I must say. The second visit was Jama Masjid, a huge mosque which was located very close to Red Fort. The mosque has capacity of 25000 people that makes it the largest mosque in India. The mosque has two minarets with heights of 40 meters each. The admission to this mosque was free and we had to walk barefoot, and it was hot!
We had our lunch at United Coffee House at E Block nearby to Connaught Place. We returned to our hotel and relaxing in its roof top swimming pool. We met the hotel friendly chef, Vijay Singh, who prepared us delicious dinner. For the first time I ate Papad Masala and I was hooked. Papad Masala became my must-be-ordered-menu during our travel in India.