Scam and You Shall Get Scammed

After the relative peace of South India, we finally arrived in Shantaram territory, excited to take on the giant bull by the horns: Mumbai!

Mumbai is one of those cities that most travelers try to get away from quickly because it’s crazy, chaotic, and over populated. But we actually loved our time there! Trying to cross the street was a constant adventure, the food was unbelievable, and the people we met were amazing (except for a guy you’ll read about later in the post).

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In Mumbai we met and lived with one of those uniquely extraordinary people that deserve a lot more than a few lines in a travel blog. Picture yourself hosting 2 strangers in your home and investing all of your free time with them…for 5 days! Remember, this guy was a complete stranger to us, and he dedicated himself to us whole heartedly, no second intentions!

Meeting Saad was very special and the perfect example of what makes travel extraordinary.

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Crashing an Indian Wedding

Walking along the ocean boardwalk in one of the most expensive parts of the city, Marine drive, we spotted the glitter and bright lights of what looked like a giant disco ball across the road. We decided to risk our lives by crossing the lawless street to get closer: NO WAY, an Indian wedding! Every India-tourist’s dream is to be invited to a wedding…

Whether you like it or not, people with light skin have power in India and sometimes you can use it to your advantage. In this case it worked perfectly and we proceeded to shamelessly crash the party despite being noticeably underdressed for this very fancy event… oops! (Our outfits from Hampi would have been perfect for this)

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Despite our still-sick bellies, we took our chances with the deliciously creamy foods from all over India. We sat down to indulge in our stolen food at a table in front of an elder non-english-speaking man sitting alone, finding out (through someone that looked like his personal waitress) that he was actually the guy who paid for our dinner, the bride’s grandpa! Mildly embarrassed, we still asked for a pic and went on to look through the amazing decorations until we felt we had overstayed our welcome and made our exit.

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IMG_1154.JPGAndres pretending to give instructions to the wedding employees

While leaving we caught a glimpse of the groom making a grandiose prince-like entrance, with an Aladdin suit riding a tall white stallion. Definitely an unforgettable experience.

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An Indian Scam

India has a reputation for scamming tourists, especially in big cities. One morning we stopped by the train station to purchase our tickets to Udaipur. Keep in mind that the concept of lines or queues just don’t exist in India. Also, there are multiple different ticket counters for different routes, plus a general lack of english.

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Hence, buying train tickets in India can be a bit stressful for tourists. After asking around, we were finally introduced to a man standing by the railway office who told us he was the station master and he could help us. FINALLY!!

After explaining what we wanted, he said “Sorry, no more tickets.” Seeing our disappointed faces, he looked at us for a few seconds and said very quickly “I will help you, follow me.” We got so happy, he was our savior!

We started walking until we noticed we were leaving the station which made us a little skeptical prompting Suz to ask him, “Are you the station master?” The guy shot a silencing “I’m offended you asked” look at Suz and that was it, he had us, and we ended up buying the tickets from an office somewhere close to the Railway station.

We only found out that we had been scammed during dinner at a nice rooftop restaurant in Colaba that night where we proudly told Saad that we got a Station Master to give us exclusive help. He just looked at us with a half smile, paused,  and broke it to us “Guys… you were scammed.”

In the end, besides the resulting blow to our ego, it wasn’t so bad really as we had simply paid for overpriced train tickets. Our bigger concern was that the scammer had control over the tickets and he could cancel them at any time to get the money back, leaving us stranded!

Feeling determined, Saad helped us devise an Ocean’s Eleven-esque plan to make the Scammer pay! The next day at the train station, after 2 hours of making railway officials listen to our righteous “We will represent India to the outside world, is this what you want us to tell others?” kind of speech, we were standing in front of the scammer while he counted the money and handed it back into our hands.

Scam and get scammed: We scammed the newlyweds’ family by crashing their wedding and as a result got scammed trying to buy our train tickets. Fortunately, the Karma Gods who were on duty that day decided to give us a break and let us get our money back.

A few more pics from our time in Mumbai:

Climbing2.jpgRock climbing at a secret location

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For those who read Shantaram, this is the famous LEOPOLD Cafe!

IMG_0941.JPGMy very classy wife!

IMG_1191.JPGThe famous Gateway of India

IMG_1244.JPGThe ancient caves of Tuttankamun….. Just kidding I just made that up, we don’t remember the name for these ones

IMG_1131.JPGBeautiful sunset view from Marine Drive

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