The weekend comes and I realize that I will be beginning my full time job in three days and this is when I can’t take it any longer. I cannot continue to live like this! After much research from Nampally and the Internet I tell my program manager how 2500 rupees just isn’t going to cut it and I convince her to give me another 2500 bringing me to a grand total of 5,000 rupees for a wooden wardrobe despite the fact that every wardrobe I found was 10,00-13,00 rupees. I tell myself that I am going to make the most out of this 5,000 and after hours on the Internet and two lost in translation calls I confirmed that there was a wooden wardrobe on sale at a furniture store that could deliver! This was exciting to me because not only did the store have a website, (which is so progressive for Indian businesses) but because there was a delivery truck not a tiny auto. I was so excited until I realized it was almost 45 minutes away from my house which automatically spelled ADVENTURE! Despite the fact that I’m wasn’t looking forward to riding in an auto for 40 minutes and being ripped off, I woke up Saturday morning ready to get it over with.
It all began with the daunting task of finding an auto that would not only give me a fair price but actually know where the furniture store was! Many auto drivers (taxi drivers) do not know how to get around the city which is an adjustment for me because in the US we are accustomed to just jumping in a taxi, giving the address, and getting there; but again I recognize I’m not in the US. I flag down an auto only for him to quote me 200 rupees!! HELL NAW! I keep walking, telling myself with every step “Martice you cannot allow yourself to get cheated, you still have eight months here”. The next auto agrees to take me and turn on his meter which may be expensive but at least you know what you’re being charged for. This almost worked out until I realized he lied to me and didn’t know where he was taking me. He literally turned right when we should have turned left and this was within the first five minutes! So again, I already promised myself not to be taken advantage of, and I jump out. Yes, I jump out of a moving auto and walk away. The driver follows me for awhile saying I have to give him money but the only thing I pay him is no mind. I get to a central area of the city and get in another auto, this time after meeting another Nigerian who sees stress on my face and wants to help (how this keeps happening I do not know, but it’s starting to freak me out, especially because when I studied abroad in Barcelona there was a Nigerian who called me twice a day).
This is when it gets ugly because again this auto driver doesn’t know where he’s taking me and has already cheated me with a price of 160 rupees, so again I jump out. This time it didn’t go so well. The driver starts cursing me out in Telegu and keeps shouting to give him money. I ignore him for as long as I can until something takes over me and I’m standing on the side of the road in an Indian kurta with my middle finger up saying F**K YOUUUUUUU!!! I was so upset. In some crazy way I felt like this was a Civil Rights back of the bus moment and I would rather boycott the bus ( auto) then sit on the back( be cheated).
I walk towards a group of auto drivers knowing that my auto driver from hell will be there but by that point I don’t care, I’m in full West Philly mode. I get to the throng of auto drivers and ask them all if they know where my furniture store is and who will take me. “Auto driver from hell” is now telling all the auto drivers that I have to give him his money and how he won’t allow anyone to leave without receiving it. I find a kind driver who says he knows where he’s going and he will take me but I have to pay my “auto driver from hell”. Again, HELL NO! I know I can be a brat, but he literally took me down one stop light. So my new kind auto driver gets enough balls and after much screaming and small hits we pull off. Again, I don’t know what came over me but once we stopped at a light I realized tears were coming down my cheeks. I was crying. I am known to be a cry baby but I honestly didn’t understand how emotion engulfed me so quickly at the light. I think I was just tired, not from the heat or from being in the country, but tired of fighting for everything. Having the ability to fight for what you want and believe builds character but it is also draining and sometimes you want things to be a little easier. The kind auto driver, whose name is Adil sees my tears and ask “Maam, why are you crying?” I can’t answer him; I just close my eyes and tell myself that everything is going to be ok. I think that it was in this moment that he fell in love with me.
For the entire ride he questions me about marriage, and love, and if I have a boyfriend or someone special in my heart. I answer all his questions honestly saying, “No” but not realizing that I should have lied saying I was married to a crazy man! He takes me to the furniture store waits for me to be done so that he can take me back home and offers to buy me a small snack of sprite and chips. I realize that his questions are suspect so I decide that he will not be taking me home! I have him drop me off at a nearby landmark and pay him a little extra since he was so nice. He tries to give me the money back and says “May I be frank with you?” I’m starting to think that I haven’t given him enough money but then he blurts out “I am in love with you, from the bottom of my heart, you seem like such a good person”. AWKWARD SILENCE! I finally say “thank you” because I didn’t know what else to say. He responds by saying “so do you understand and accept my proposal?” This is when I get confused. I say “yes” because I did understand what he was saying but he thought I said yes to his proposal and quickly added “really? So you will come with me to my home and meet my parents tonight or tomorrow?”
This story has been long enough but of course I didn’t go to his home and meet his family but I did tell him that I was sorry and that I was not in love with him. It hurt his feelings and he said he could wait for me. He has my number now from when I called him at the furniture store and calls me four times a day. For now I’m safe but if anything should happen to me, know that it was Adil from Kothapet who drives the auto and went to college, it may not seem like a lot of information but here in India it will get you very far.