Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby's first steps

Just give me a minute...ok...there, I'm done (was busy patting myself on the back). 

Autos (what you might know as rickshaws) are a dime a dozen in India.  Generally, you hail one like you would any other taxi; you haggle over using the meter; you lose the argument; then you haggle over the price; then you lose that argument; then you begin to walk away, and if you're lucky, the prices comes down a bit and you reach a place of mutual understanding (unclear why some folks in the Middle East are having such difficulty with this).  In Ludhiana, however, things work a little differently.  

Here the autos run on routes.  They can accommodate six people, instead of the usual three.  And the price is usually less than half of what a bike rickshaw would cost to take solo.  But for the system to really work, a certain level of familiarity of the city is required.  Given that I've been told repeatedly that a map of Ludhiana does not exist, you can imagine how difficult this auto system is to negotiate for a newcomer.  Which is why milestone 1 was my successful negotiation of the auto system to open my very own Indian bank account. After some advice from my friend Pankag, I hailed one auto to Bharat Chownk (a chownk is a round-a-bout), then found a second auto to take me the remaining distance.  Take that, 3% foreign transaction fee!

The main good news of the last few days are the Flip This House-worthy renovations that have been completed on my apartment, allowing yours truly to finally settle in to my own place.  I think the before and after pictures will tell the story quite well.  I have one large bedroom and a large living room, so plenty of space for visitors!   

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