Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do they look legit to you?

When my parents were here we went to Agra (Taj Majal) by car. On the way back into Delhi we were waved off the road by these guys. Apparently we missed a toll booth. An unmarked toll booth that only cars with tourist plates and some large trucks have to stop at. They claimed that we would have to pay the fine immediately to them... and the other 5 or six guys hanging around. I was livid. Mostly with my driver for stopping (though to his credit the traffic was heavy and it would have been difficult to get past them without running one of them over since they were jumping out in the road) but also at the audacity. I refused to pay. I asked to speak to a supervisor by phone. They gave me a number that didn't work. Then while one guy gave me a second number, another walked around the back of the car with his cell phone. I started to laugh. They were getting rather angry since I continued to refuse to pay them. After much back and forth I had the driver go back to the toll booth, where I said I would pay my fine to the toll booth operator. When we got there only one lane was open and one of the guys that had been hanging around our car was sitting in an empty toll both, waving us over. We chose to wait in the regular line, by the time we got there they'd scared the uniform wearing toll booth operator out of his little booth, replaced by the same guy who'd been sitting in the other booth a few minutes earlier. The two in the picture continued to insist that we pay the fine/bribe/baksheesh, but the guy in the toll booth asked for the regular toll. I still don't know, maybe they were for real.
Oh and the fine/bribe? 210 Rupees. About $4. Still not quite sure why I didn't just pay it.

Here's the backside of the tollbooth, didn't look significantly different from the front.


Marie' said...

Uniform would have really helped. But at 210 Rupees per catch, I guess that would be too much overhead for the business.

The Editor said...

They not only look legit; they look positively adorable. Your tale fuels my reticence to come to India. Convince me, quick!

Kathryn said...

Editor, don't lose your courage. Check out the pictures in the next post and take heart. Besides a good run-in with bandits story always comes in handy.

TX Girl said...

210 rupees. Hello- that is the problem, they were thinking in too small of terms for it to be remotely legitimate.

I'm glad you paid them, especially given the fact that you got a fabulous tale for your time and fine.

Amy said...

You took their picture?