So I’ve left out a significant portion of our trip. Tipping and bribing.
Tipping is expected by everyone and people you don’t even know what they did for you line up for a tip. Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of the people who’ve served us in a variety of capacities make crap and we do not begrudge a single dime spent thanking them for their service but it’s not something we thought or planned for in a real way in our budget because they get pissed when you don’t tip enough–so every driver, waiter, cook, guide, or tea stand expects big american money which we have (in comparison) and don’t have (in reality) at the same time and believe me everyone knows the exchange rate and expects accordingly. Again, we are glad to do it but it cuts our budget drastically especially when you consider the need for bribes as well.
So that is another thing. Even if you pay for something (for example: an elephant ride on a safari) in advance and they tell you it’s guaranteed it’s not. VIP’s will miraculously materialize with orders from someone official that they need the elephant for something else and you’ve been bumped but they will see what they can do. What this really means is someone offered us money to cut in line and you didn’t so we’re going with them no matter how much bitching you do.
Unless of course you had previously befriended a member of parliament from south of delhi who hears our sad tale of woe and explains the game to us. He then proceeds to bumps the aforementioned bribers with the I’ve been bribing these folks for years and viola we are miraculously back on the elephant.
Yes, we did, and yes he did, and no I don’t feel guilty at all.
It gets even better though because we go on Safari with the elephants and our friend and his friends and we have three tiger spottings (sadly no really good pics because tigers are fast and elephants make for a bumpy ride) which of course everyone is a buzz about. The guides and drivers are a gossipy bunch everyone now knows that we’re bff’s with their favorite politician so our status skyrockets and the world is now our oyster.
Like we really needed that kind of encouragement.