Running a Varanasi 5K (Iain)

Running in varanasi was impossible. The roads were too busy (at any time of the day and night) and the the paths were so uneven it would have been too dificult and unsafe to even attempt a run. Instead I went for a 5k walk

Negotiating with taxi drivers is an art. There are two problems:

1 – Indian taxi drivers rarely know where anything is.
2 – They want to rip you off as much as possible on the price.

Problem 1 is fair enough. Varanasi has thousands of streets and lanes and no one could possibly know them all. Also the name I might call it might not reflect the local name for a place. Even the name Varanasi is a misnomer as it’s local name is Banderas.

The best thing to do is to give them something famous near to where you want to go and then guide them from that. I use an offline downloaded map on my phone to get about as I didn’t want to pay a fortune for roaming mobile data.

Problem 2 is annoying. My normal gambit is to approach the taxi driver and ask for a price. They tell me an outrageous price. I counter with a much much lower offer. They argue and tell me why I’m wrong before they drop the price slightly. I’ll then offer a slightly higher offer which they’ll reject. I then walk away. As I walk away they shout a new price. I make my final offer. We agree and off we go. It’s a tiring and annoying process but it seemed to work until I got to Varanasi.

I tried it but as I walked away the taxi driver just let me go.

Darn I thought. That normally works!

Just as I was about to turn around another man came up and said he do it for 100R but it would be on his bike.

I said yes. Myself and Nic got on his bike and the man started pedaling but we didn’t go anywhere. The ride was on a slight incline and my weight was too much for him!

He started pushing instead. Thankfully after a few minutes it got flatter and he hopped on and managed to bike. Unfortunately he had no idea where we were going so after another few minutes he declared we were at the destination. We weren’t. It was still a couple of miles away.

He called over another man and they studied my map trying to work out where the destination was. After some to-ing and fro-ing and some questioning of others they worked out it was straight down the road he was currently on. I had tried to tell him that but he hadn’t believed me.

I felt sorry for him as he hauled me along. The road was extremely busy. I’d never drive it let alone cycle it.

Eventually we got to our stop. I gave him 100R but then pointed at Nic and said “no 100R each”

An Indian taxi/bike drivers scam work is never done.

If only people in the UK were so entrepreneurial.

Ease of running score – 1/10 (it might be possible but it would’t be fun)

Sights 9/10
– the Ghats are a fascinating place. Take it slow and enjoy the sights.

 

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