Mumbai: Not the disaster it was last time
In fact, I actually had a nice time. I had an AMAZING meal with real wine at Indigo, which Conde Nast rates as one of the top 60 restaurants in the world. They even had a special menu prepared for me that said "Miss Suzie" at the top. I also shopped around a bit and did some of my best-ever bargaining on earrings.
Even though I had fun, bad stories are funnier than good ones so here are a few:
1) My cabbie from the airport put on the meter (which doesn't show price, just some random numbers that you match up at the end with the prices listed on an official fare card). But, when we arrived at the hotel he pretended not to have the fare card and quoted me an expensive price. I said that was illegal and wouldn't pay him till he found a fare card, so it miraculously appeared. Of course, he had over-priced me by 150 rupees. Then he pretended not to have change since he was mad I wouldn't pay a 33% mark-up on a price that was already 30% too much (we took the long route) according to the hotel. He was like, "Just an extra 50 rupees, ma'am." Trying to be all charming. And I'm like, "Why would I give you an extra 50 rupees? You lied to me. Is it because I'm American?" and he was like, "Yes ma'am. Please just another 50 or 100 rupees." Made me so mad.
2.) My hotel had a 'business suite' on the 8th floor with internet, but the person who was supposed to man it was MIA. I went down to the front desk and they told me they'd send someone up shortly to log me in. I asked if they could just give me a password and they were like, "No, ma'am." I waited and even went back down to remind them and was assured someone was on his way, but after an HOUR of waiting, still no sign of humanity. I had to leave for my dinner reservation and they were like, "Ma'am, the internet room closes in 30 minutes, so if you leave you won't be able to use it." I was like, "It's essentially been closed all day! I need internet and someone better be there when I get back from dinner.
Anyway, when I got back sure enough there was a guy waiting for me, but he made me sit and wait for 15 more minutes while he checked his PERSONAL EMAIL ACCOUNT! If he had been doing his job, he could have been checking his email ALL DAY. I got so mad I was like, "Do you get paid to be here? Because I'm PAYING to be here and I've been waiting HOURS now to use this for work." He was like, "One more minute ma'am" and tried to be charming and tell me about the wonderful hotel bar while he slowly typed personal emails with one finger. He also tried to leave the timer logged in, probably so that I would pay for his personal internet usage as well as my own.
The only positive was he typed so slowly that I was able to see the login and password so I could go back and use internet later without his supervision (also since I knew from experience that he doesn't bother to do his job, so no one would see me sneak in and get free internet.
3) I had an hour to kill at a mall before going to the airport and my bag was SOOOO heavy, so I decided to just get a pedicure (I was at a mall and sick of walking around and shopping). It was the worst pedicure of my life. The guy tried to cut off a blister on my pinkie toe. I get chills just thinking about it. I'll probably get tetanus or something. He also whittled my big toenails to a quick even though I specifically asked him to keep them long about 4 times.
4) I got stuck in 1.5 hours of traffic on the 5 mile trip to the airport, and only arrived 40 minutes before my departure. Also, my cabbie (a nice, honest one) dropped me off at the wrong terminal. The security guys said it was only a 5 minute walk to my terminal, but I couldn't see it and everything is '5 minutes' here so I was skeptical. Anyway, I set out on foot and a relentlessly annoying rickshaw driver drove next to me for about 10 minutes (not exaggerating) and kept being like, "It's 2km to your terminal ma'am. 30 minutes walk. Very far. I give you ride." and he WOULD NOT go away. Finally, I was like, "Is it really 2 km or are you just trying to cheat me?" And he said, "Very far, ma'am. 30 minute walk." So I said, "You better not be lying to me or I'm not going to pay you" and just got in because if he was telling the truth, I would have missed my plane and I've DONE things like that before because I've either been too cheap or stubborn or untrusting, and that would have sucked.
Anyway, my terminal was about 50 feet away -- not exaggerating -- I probably could have walked faster, and he tried to charge me 110 rupees! Plus, he lied. I gave him 10 (which was WAY more than I should have) and told him he didn't even deserve that because he was a liar and a cheat. He was like, "I am a good man, ma'am. You American. You give me more money. 10 rupees is very bad."
Anyway, those are my maddening Mumbai stories.