When I first sat down to write this post, I thought that I only had one fight to describe, but the city of Jodhpur, in all its dubious benevolence, has just delivered a second sparring partner to me. I’ll share the deets, but first, a bit of goodness. Jodhpur has an epic fort – Mehrangarh – and some truly nice people.
A really bad photo of the fort, taken from our guesthouse roof.
Unfortunately, Jodhpur also contains an obnoxious selection of touts, liars, and jerks. I won’t even go into the schemes we’ve been sucked into (it makes me look dumb, plus I am typing with one thumb), but I will share two battles. I would generally class myself as a conflict avoider, but I can rise to the occasion when pushed.
The first fight, which has mercifully concluded, occurred last night in a restaurant. Todd and I tried to branch out by not choosing a Lonely Planet recommendation, and discovered that guidebooks are there for a reason. We were craving naan, Indian bread that is cooked in a tandoor. Some restaurants will try to pass other flat breads off as naan if they don’t have a tandoor, and we wanted to avoid this, so we asked the proprietor before being seated whether he did, in fact, have one. He assured us that he did, so we ordered two dishes from the tandoor – chicken tikka (bite-sized pieces of boneless barbecued chicken) and naan – and two other dishes. The other dishes arrived first, and they looked, to put it mildly, unappetizing. Then the tandoor dishes arrived. Instead of naan, limp, pan-fried dough. Instead of chicken tikka, pan-fried balls of dough containing chicken bits and other items of unknown origin. For those who haven’t tried these dishes, this was the equivalent of ordering steak (and being charged steak prices) and fresh bread, and receiving chicken McNuggets and Wonder Bread. I had been lied to and harassed all day, and wasn’t having it. This was my sword to die on. I called the manager over, and politely informed him that the dishes in front of me were not, in fact, chicken tikka and naan. I won’t relay our entire argument, but his part went something like this:
“Yes, this is naan and chicken tikka. What to you mean? Look, this is the garlic naan that you ordered. No, it is not chapati. Ok, fine, I concede that this is not naan. But yes, this is chicken tikka. What do you mean? All chicken tikka is like this. Ok, fine, this is special Jodhpur recipe chicken tikka. All Jodhpur chicken tikka is like this. What is your problem!!!”
I do not know a lot, but I do know chicken tikka, and this was not it. I steadfastly refused to pay for it, and he finally gave in. In the meantime, the customers at the table next to us got up and left when they heard the manager’s rant. When the waiter brought me the bill, they still tried to charge me for the non-naan, but capitulated easily when I refused. There was still one line of defense left, though. Before we could get out the door, the owner and his cousin cornered me and demanded to know where I had previously eaten chicken tikka. I began listing places all over India, but they just couldn’t let it go that easily. I finally acknowledged that maybe this was special Jodhpur chicken tikka, and escaped. The next night, we ate chicken tikka in a nearby restaurant, and strangely enough, it was the same as chicken tikka all over India, not special Jodhpur tikka.
I will abbreviate the second fight. We spent one night in the additional apartment of a large, popular Jodhpur guesthouse, because the regular guesthouse was full. The room was strangely decorated and overpriced. The next day, we asked for a cheaper room in the normal guesthouse. The owner told us it was still full, tried to pressure us into taking the weird apartment for another night, and refused to store our bags while we looked at other guesthouses (this is a standard service at basically all guesthouses). He was generally rude and unhelpful. Joke is on him though, because now there is a little site called “trip advisor” where you can rate your guesthouse experience. I did so, and I think that my review, while negative, was fair, and avoided insulting the place. Unfortunately, the owner wasn’t content to leave it at that. He sent me a message through trip advisor. I assumed that it was an apology, but in fact, it contained a string of insults, and finished by stating that he hoped never to see me again. Not a problem. He won’t see me again. But if he thinks for a moment that he won’t be seeing a second review on trip advisor, he has another think coming. I think I’ll wait until we leave town, though, so he or his cousin don’t murder me while I saunter down the street.
*** update: I decided not to post a second review on trip advisor. Not worth it. Besides, if I lived in Jodhpur, I’d probably be an angry jerk, too. ***
Wow. So much rage! Needless to say, we’re leaving town early. Let’s end this rant with a few fun pictures from our guesthouse, the Hare Krishna (sorry mom, but everywhere else was full).