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Arvil and I go on a Bender – Indian Bargaining at Connaught Place

What started out as a low key trip to Café  Coffee Day (the Starbucks of India) for some Darjeeling tea ended up as a free for all bargaining bender.

Cafe Coffee Day

Cafe Coffee Day

Preface: In Dharmasala one night Arvil and I were enjoying this amazing Oscar hopeful of a movie, Jumper. Thirty minutes in we had to abandon its captivating plot and top-tier acting, headlined by a blond haired Samuel L. Jackson. Arvil was hooked; he needed know how the film played out … the emptiness he felt resulted in the kid peeling away at his own skin. In India, the one cesspool vast enough in shitty pirated movies i.e. Jumper, for a price of roughly $1, is Connaught Place and this is where we headed.

Sammy L - Jumper

Sammy L - Jumper

We snagged a rickshaw; guaranteed ourselves a 100 rupee ride, and headed off on a shopping trip reminiscent of the benders my mom endures when she hits up the local TJ Max. Around half way to Connaught Place we were caught by a red light. At most major intersections there are gangs of slum children peddling garbage magazines for 50 rupees a piece and since we were exposed in a rickshaw and I am a cracker-ass white boy there was no hope. Within seconds Arvil and I were gangbanged by five slum children all pushing People Magazine in our faces.

Saying “No thanks” or “I already have all of those magazines” was ineffective. We have experienced the wrath of these mobile magazine stands previously, but it was at this moment when I had an epiphany. I conjured up a strategy so diabolical, so ingenious, so cutting edge that I knew it would ward away these beggars.

I introduce to you the fake cell phone call; it worked so well that I am confident there is plenty of business potential behind this progressive tactic. Basically all you have to do is hold up a fake cell phone to your ear and pretend to sell junk bonds, penny stocks and yell incoherent American slang into your hand fashioned as a phone. I am not sure whether it worked because they actually thought I was on the phone or because they thought I was crazy but I really didn’t care.

Upon our arrival to Connaught place we were greeted by two young Indian boys offering us rickshaw rides, we explained to them that we were strictly in the market for DVD’s and their eyes lit up. We followed them down a set of stairs into a sketchy corridor lined with stores on both sides all selling the same exact crap … pirated DVDs and video games. We thought we hit the jackpot and for most people this probably was the mother-load, but as soon as this kid started asking me “You want to jiggy jiggy movies?” I knew that we had just walked into the largest underground Bollywood porno shopping center in Delhi.

Connaught Placce - Palika Bazar - The underground shopping center

Connaught Placce - Palika Bazar - The underground shopping center

Long story short, we ended up finding the actually shopping center and hard bargained for a couple hours. This underground shopping mall was filled with hundreds of identical stores all selling the same pirated electronics and every fake brand named shirt imaginable … this is a common theme throughout Delhi.

Between Arvil and I we made out with:

  • 2 PC video games
    • Fifa 2010 (which turns out is Fifa 2009)
    • The Ashes 2009, it’s a cricket game (Haven’t played it yet but its probably The Ashes 2008)
  • Seven DVDs
    • Jumper – Arvil nearly spooged himself
    • No Country For Old Men
    • There Will Be Blood
    • 10,000 B.C
    • Away We Go
      • The only explanation for Jims (the office) greatness is that he must be Michael Cera’s love child
    • Transformers  2 – We just tested it out and its of hand camera quality
    • District 9 – Christopher Johnson is the man
  • A 250 GB flash Drive (one of two potential suspects for who gave Arvil trogan viruses after he put it in his computer)
    • Initially the merchants were selling this for 1,500 hundred rupees but Arvil was able to haggle his way down to less than a third of that price.
  • A UK Punjabi Club DJ mix CD – 150 songs (the latter suspect for who destroyed Arvils computer)
  • A sweet hipster T-Shirt of the outline of India in green, orange and white with the small type words “I ❤ India”

    All of this is easily valued over hundreds of dollars … standard greenbacks. Arvils stone-cold bargaining tactics added with my ruthless Jewish heritage ended up being a lethal combination. We paid roughly 900 rupees total, roughly $18. Even though the flash drive/Punjabi mix might have temporarily bamboozled Arvils computer, I think we made out alright.

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    Bathrooms in India

    Below is a picture of a typical bathroom in India. When you are provided with an actual toilet complimented with a sink, then you’ve stuck gold. Usually there is a hole in the ground and a bucket filled with water, I still have no idea how to go about using the two effectively without smearing feces everywhere.

    What is even more unlikely when using bathrooms here is when you find a restaurant/store that offers toilet paper, when this rarity occurs you have to look twice because usually its to good to be true. Socks, t-shirts and the Delhi Times doubles as half-decent TP.

    Typical Indian bathroom

    Typical Indian bathroom

    Arvil has been bedridden for the past couple days; his childish immune system couldn’t handle the likes of Rithlals five star chef skills. Surprisingly enough my stomach has held strong … so far. I am writing this in hopes that my words come back to haunt me, I want my inevitably sickness to arrive already. I want a couple ruthless back to back sessions followed by temporarily being crippled.

    You may be confused on why I am wishing for warm foaminess to dribble down my leg but you must understand that this sickness is guaranteed and the sooner I get it over with the sooner I can continue my travels. Last thing I want is to be stuck on a 3rd class train with no bathroom or like a hole in the ground and all a sudden my stomach is ready to shit bricks, which are still in the molten state.

    I have contemplated eating at a road side food stand (garmented squirts) or licking the bottom of Sanjays feet (he drives barefoot) but have yet to build up the courage to do either.

    Stinky ... niice!

    Stinky ... niice!

    Bro’s

    DSC_0095

    Sometimes you will see 2 or 3 dudes walking down the street, holding hands. If you were in America, you would most likely stare, laugh, and then throw rocks at them, because god doesn’t like gays.

    In India, homosexuality is a taboo subject. It is rarely discussed, and until a few months ago, it was completely illegal to have homosexual intercourse. So when you see guys holding hands, it would be like if you put your arm around your buddy, or when you slap a guy’s ass while playing sports. There’s nothing like a good ass slap for a job well done.

    Arvil and I head to the salon: manicures & pedicures ensue

    Today was rough.  While reading this morning’s Delhi Times Rithlal prepared us omelets, toast and an apple. While picking apart my toast I realized that my fingernails had grown longer than most women’s and the itch in my beard was a clean sign that its mass was capable of handling sub-zero temperatures, so we headed to the local salon.

    Arvil and I ordered up a shave followed by a face massage. After looking at a clean shaven Josh in the mirror I felt like a new man, the face message left me feeling like a million crore, but inside my wallet I felt like I could afford more luxurious treatment. A manicure & pedicure are two things I have always been curious about, after being convinced by my barber that it would help with my speed on the frisbee field then it was a clear to me that sacrifices must be made if I want to be the best.

    Sitting side by side, Arvil and I ordered a cup of sweet chai as we waited for our royal treatment. From upstairs a 13 year old Indian boy brought down equipment and began to set up shop. Arvil and I joked about how it would be funny if this little kid were actually the professional administrating the mani/pedi.  And it turns out he was, Arvil was rubbed down hard by this 13 year old while I sat there and laughed. My attendant had yet to come down and I was hoping for it to be a girl, but instead a 17 year old wearing imitation designer clothing comes down stairs and started massaging my feet.

    After an hour and half of our hands and feet being rubbed down by a couple of teenagers, we scrapped the head massage. We handed the cashier 320 rupees and tipped our barbers. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything in the world, after spending a couple hours in that salon I realized that I am not cut out for that kind of luxury.