Thank You ‘Zilla for remembering that back on JAN 29 2016 I wrote the below:
This morning (Wednesday evening the 3rd of FEB for ‘Zilla) he said to me over the phone ..
“Cap .. I am waiting to hear about the DRAMA of you and Patti getting from Goa to Pondicherry.”
So here we go ‘Zilla and neighboring cities from coast-to-coast and overseas!
JUST PLAIN DRAMA .. GETTING FROM ARAMBOL BEACH (Depart 28 JAN) TO PONDICHERRY (Arrive 29 JAN).
Patti and I had three distinct Dramatic experiences. So I will let Patti tell you about them. I have taken the liberty to add to Patti’s writings. My comments are in blue.
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When Cap asks me to write, he usually starts me off with “Patti says.” … So,
PATTI SAYS …
We got out of our guest house in Arambol Beach very peacefully and into a taxi for a very enjoyable two-hour ride to Margao the largest city in Goa where we were to catch an afternoon train at 3:20PM. We arrived at the train station over two full hours early. The cab ride was just perfect. The first drama soon began. We were unable to see our train posted on the schedule. The train we were ticketed on runs once-a-week. IF you miss the train you are out-of-luck for a full week! Cap left me and the baggage in a Ladies Waiting Room area, and then subsequently in an air conditioned waiting area. Somehow*Cap finally was able to determine the track from which our train was to leave. We searched outside the waiting area for a porter (the train stations are usually teeming with porters). There was not a porter in sight.
*Doing this was a job believe me. Evidently because the train runs only once-a-week there was never any information on the Electronic Train Status Board. Finally I went into the station master’s office where I got two answers. Track 2 or Track 3. Luckily these two tracks adjoin one another so we ended up at the right place.
By this time we had no time to wait for a porter, so off we went with Cap handling four pieces of luggage and me with my one bag and my cane. Our train was on a track away from the station building. That meant Cap had to ferry his four bags up three tiers of stairs to the cross-over above the train tracks as well as the one I had been handling. Then, it was a three level ramp down to the track. Once at the track, we could not get a definitive answer as to where in the LONG train (18 coaches minimum) our assigned car would be, so we ended up going in two different directions and then running frantically for our car once the train arrived. Somehow we pulled it off and boarded the train. By the way our coach was near the far end of the train.
Once on the train, drama number two began. It was an overnight train and Cap and I had asked for a lower and an upper berth in our compartment. After boarding the train we found out that we were assigned two upper berths in separate compartments. Normally they give preference to older folks for the lower berths and with my physical limitations, I CANNOT do an upper berth. Normally a couple is assigned to the same compartment! So, Cap began negotiations with the conductor to switch me to a lower berth. That was finally accomplished*, but we remained in different compartments. I did get into a compartment with a delightful Indian family, a young professional couple and their charming two year old daughter. The night went well and we arrived in Chennai a few minutes ahead of schedule at just before noon.
*It was finally accomplished when I ‘slipped the conductor’ a small gratuity of Indian Rupees (IR) 500 which by-the-by was about 50% of the cost of the ticket! Well worth it however!
In the Chennai station, Cap left me with the luggage to go make some future reservations. That done, drama number three begins. Cap went out to the curb and spoke to a gentleman there about getting a taxi to Pondicherry. The man jumped at the opportunity to be of service. He and Cap came back to where I was to collect me and the luggage. Back at the curb, we were immediately surrounded by a “committee” of vocal men speaking loudly to ‘our man’. He ushered us across the street where there were some taxis waiting. The “committee” followed getting louder with their confronting of ‘our man’. It reached the shouting stage. One man in particular was nose-to-nose with ‘our man’ and shaking his fist. I do not handle arguments well and usually just remove myself from the vicinity of any argument. The most agressive man finally started to push and hit at ‘our man’. At this point, I stepped between the two of them. Whatever possessed me??? The shouting toned down, the aggressive man took a step back, and we were loaded into a taxi that arrived from ‘afar’ for Pondicherry. End of ALL the drama.
*THE REST OF THIS STORY. In the United States and in many foreign countries there has arisen an ‘alternative taxicab’ scheme called Uber Car Service. People with smart phones use an ‘app’ to call their very own Uber Car totally outside of the conventional Taxi system.
From what I understand there has been quite the uproar about this for numerous good reasons. I think this is what happened here.
Prior to getting a quote from the man we eventually dealt with I had asked several ‘legitimate’ taxis in their ‘taxi queue’ in front of the Chennai Central station for an estimate to go South from Chennai to Pondi. I was given quotes in the range of Indian Rupees (IR) 4,000 to 4,500 (US $ 59.70 to 67.16.) These rates represent a lot of money to a taxi driver. So of course they are going to fight for that business.
When ‘our man’ gave me a quote of 3,500 IR and I accepted his offer .. He immediately got onto his cell phone and placed a phone call to someone. At that time I thought nothing of this. It was the man he had called that arrived from ‘afar’ into the above chaos with his own car!
After the dust had settled and Patti and I were in the car we rode to Pondi in .. ‘Our man’ put his head into our taxi and said to me ..
“Sir. Give me 1,000 IR. When you get to Pondicherry give the driver 2,500 IR.”
INSTANTLY I KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPENED!
‘Our man’ had ‘brokered’ himself a sweet deal. He called some type of Uber Car Service and ordered up a car to Pondi. I have no doubt he works closely with the driver we rode to Pondi with. In fact his ‘car’ had a logo on the rear window indicating that he was indeed in some sort of conglomerate with others since I saw the same identical signs on several other (identical white Suzukis) cars as we rode to Pondi over the three hour drive. The driver was courteous and the car was so immaculate that it appeared to border on being showroom brand new. Many taxi cabs in India are absolutely filthy moving-wrecks-waiting-to-happen.
IF I am correct .. and I am sure I am .. it is NO WONDER the legitimate taxi drivers and their business agent were up-in-arms about what was happening in front of them.
We had a peaceful ride to Pondicherry, about three hours. We have since been enjoying a very lovely hotel*room here … air conditioning, a refrigerator where we are keeping water and juice cold, a corner room with nice views in both directions (in one direction we see the ocean about six blocks away), a HUGE bed with a REAL mattress and soft pillows … NICE, NICE, NICE! A smiley face, a BIG smiley face could be inserted here!! In spite of both of us dealing with stomach cramps and needing to stay close to the bathroom at times … and Cap being hit with food poisoning four days ago … we have been able to get out for some walks, some meals, and most evenings get down to the ocean front to watch the day end.
*IF you are going to be sick as we have been .. then be sick in an exceptionally comfortable luxurious room with all of the bells and whistles!
There is not a beach here … it is a sloping cliff of rocks … The four photos below were taken in March of 2013. I pulled them up out of my archived website photo gallery. I still cannot post new photos.
But it is fun to watch the surf break and spray over the rocks. Literally, crowds of people flock to the waterfront at sunset (even though we are on the east coast and the sun is setting in the west). The heat of the day abates somewhat and it is pleasant.
That’s it from Patti folks!
Smiles and Joy from the two of us!
Patti and Cap ..
As you can see the two of us are feeling well enough to get here to the internet cafe and write and publish this post.
- FEB 2, 16 .. PONDICHERRY 2016 .. SICK OH MY YES!
- FEB 12, 16 .. BACK TO AGRA CANTT ..