Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why does it take longer in India?

One simple rule I have learned in India is that everything takes longer than you expect it to, so enjoy the ride.

I know stereotypes aren't always true but IST (Indian Stretchable Time) is bounded in my experiences.  I recount this tale as accurately as possible from a very recent experience.

If you don't have time to waste reading a random Canadian's Sunday morning adventure, skip to the end now. Just note that I left Sector 49 Chandigarh (friend's house) to relay through my trainee house in Sector 16 Panchkula with a Final Destination of Sector 21 Panchkula (Approx 15 km total).

This morning I woke up at 7:30 am and decided that I would spend the day catching up on blogs, re-connecting with friends and family, making a couple videos, etc.

I needed a quiet, secluded spot, with friendly people so the White-house seemed perfect.

 Now, on my journey some things were avoidable, some were by choice, but here is the timeline:

7:40 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - Busy
7:42 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - No Answer
7:44 am: Called the Tuk Tuk (taxi company) - Busy
7:47 am: Left my friend's house (who had offered that I spend the night to catch up on some sleep) with the instructions that a tuk tuk should cost approx. 100 rupees to get home to Panchkula (about 10 km)
7:51 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Didn't speak english
7:55 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was requesting

8:00 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was asking, so I just jumped in to get closer to my final destination
8:10 am: Arrived at Sector 17 (approx halfway between start and finish) Cost - 40 Rupees
8:15 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Denied his request for 100 Rupees, he refused my offer of 50
8:21 am: Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was asking
8:30 am: Jumped on a Bus that said "Housing Complex" which is very near to my home in Panchkula - The most relaxing part of my journey. Cost - 10 Rupees
8:45 am - Got off at my bus stop, only 1 km to my trainee house.
8:47 am - Went to get a Auto Rickshaw, was told to wait in an idling Auto Rickshaw while the driver was chatting with friends.
8:50 am - Got out of the Auto Rickshawafter I had watched others just flagging them down from the street for 3 minutes
8:52 am - Flagged Down a Auto Rickshaw - Laughed at the drivers face as he asked 80 Rupees to drive me 1 km - didn't even counter offer.
8:53 am - Flagged Down a Auto Rickshaw - Jumped in along with 4 others to drop me at me sector. Cost 10 Rupees

9:00 am - Got to my sector, ordered some Aloo Parantha's for take-away breakfast and stopped by the grocery store on the short walk home.
9:15 am - Arrived home to refresh, eat my breakfast, and have a nice little chat with my housemate as I got my things together. Washed a pair of pants that needed washing.  It was a good time to do so as there is a nice drying breeze outside and I have been going commando for the last few days.

11:15 am - Left to flag down a Auto Rickshaw to go to the White-House (my quiet spot, 5 km away).
11:17 am - Got a call to join some AIESECers at a Cafe 10 minutes from my house, impolite to turn down this opportunity.
11:21 am - Finally found a store that sells Jockey underwear and undershirts, refreshed my collection for 500 rupees ($10 approx). 

11:30 - 1 pm - Chilling and chatting with Aseem and Pranav, completely trumped my pre-planned journey.

1:15 pm - Instructions that a Auto Rickshaw would cost maximum 60 Rupees to get me to my final destination.
1:20 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Was proposed 100 Rupees, Requested 50, was denied
1:22 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Was proposed 80 Rupees, Requested 60, was denied
1:25 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going to my location
1:27 pm - Two dudes on an Activa (scooter) stopped to tell me about their website. They wanted more clicks from outside of India. I told them I would look at their website if they negotiated a Tuk-Tuk for me
1:29 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - The driver had no idea where I was going, even giving him an exact address.
1:31 pm - I said I would tell my friends about the website if the two dudes offered my a lift closer to my final destination. They agreed
1:35 pm - Dropped off 2 km from my final destination. Go to
1:38 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wanted 100 Rupees, I offered 40, no deal
1:39 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wasn't going where I was going
1:41 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Jumped in a group tuk tuk heading closer to my final destination, paid 10 Rupees
1:45 pm - Dropped me off at the Overpass bordering on Sector 20. I was going to Sector 21, so close.
1:47 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw- Learned that if you are facing a direction different than where you intend to go, prices are immediately doubled because they assume you are clueless. I laughed at their offer.
1:49 pm - Flagged down a Auto Rickshaw - Wanted 80 Rupees, I wanted to pay 20 - Got angry at me when I suggested anything less than 30 telling me that it was a fair price.

2:01 pm - Decided I would just walk as I was frustrated. Asked a police officer the correct direction, he confirmed that 20 rupees was a fair price to pay for Auto Rickshaw
2:10 pm - Stopped to get Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, which was nearly the same price as my entire journey to date, but oh so worth it.
2:16 pm - Tried to Flag down a Tuk Tuk - They continued to ask prices of 60 Rupees and up. I refuse to pay more than 20 for such a short journey.
2:20 pm - A car drives by with two dudes and stops, they ask where I ask where they are going, Sector 21 they reply, I say great, they say hop in.
2:25 pm - Some small talk, they arrive home and drop me off to continue my journey (only 500 m or so). As I am leaving, one see's the sleeve of my T-shirt and excitedly asks if I am from AIESEC. I say yes, and he says he is too! Thank you Aarkriti for hiring helpful people into your portfolio ;)
2:29 pm - I am looking for the specific house number in the neighbourhood. 50 houses before where I expect to find mine, the numbers stop counting up and start counting down. Lost and confused I ask a gardener - who points me in one direction. Somewhat skeptical, I ask a passing car's driver - who points in another direction. To confirm either of the two's story, I ask a third person, who points me a third direction. 
2:31 pm - Scratching my chin, the car's driver returns and tells me to hop in, he and his family will help me get to my final destination.
2:37 pm - After doing some circles, we find the White-house and I am greeted warmly by Gurin's family and dog Donut.

For those of you who made it through, I hope you can relate.  For those of you who have ever wondered why and intern is running late, they have probably hit something similar. 

I can only guess that I was over-quoted nearly 500 rupees total from almost 15 different Auto Rickshaws in a 6 hour adventure to go 15 km.  All in a days work.


  1. What an amazing account Carson! The fact that I complain that I'm sometimes late here just puts everything into perspective.

    I can completely relate to your 2:29 pm misadventure. When I was in Morocco desperately looking for a bathroom I'm pretty sure I was pointed in 4 different directions before an older man who didn't speak a word of English took me by the hand and brought me there.

    Good work on persevering and not falling into the naive trap. You make us proud.

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