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CASHING A TRAVELLERS CHECK IN INDIA

The Day I Thought I Was a Secret Agent

sunny 73 °F

So I have arrived in Delhi and it is everything any blog, guidebook, website, native or past visitor has told me to the power of whatever exponent is equivalent to experiencing something with your very own eyes for the very first time. I am exhilarated, inspired, shocked, overjoyed...basically I am SHAM WOWED! Mouth on the ground. GAGGED!...but it's reeeal dirty so I picked my mouth off the ground reeeal quick!

INCREDIBLE INDIA

INCREDIBLE INDIA

My HOTEL is Bloomrooms near the Delhi Railway Station. Not the Ritz but clean, airy, and the showerhead Ima need at home in LA! Yellow accents everywhere. If there was a soundtrack to this hotel it would be Pharrell's "Happy!"

HOTEL PATIO

HOTEL PATIO

Yellow=HAPPY

Yellow=HAPPY

I should also mention that I have 2 Indian natives, Balvant and Vimal, who are family friends of my Aunt's significant other, also an Indian native. Balvant and Vimal kindly agreed to meet me at my hotel and make sure I am able to safely explore my first 2 days in Delhi. They also are driving me to Rishikesh on Day 3 but I'll save that story for my next entry.

MIS AMIGOS

MIS AMIGOS

The only problem: they don't speak English! I was already aware of this and did not think it would be a big deal until I kept hearing "Taj Mahal" "Taj Mahal" and found out they were trying to take me Agra to see the Taj Mahal on that day! This is a 3 hour car ride and a whole day excursion that I was not prepared for and was planning to see later on my journey. It was clear an interpretor was a necessity. The hotel manager arranged an English speaking guide to come with us as we explored the touristy Delhi sights. Gotta say that his English wasn't much better but we made do. I just made use of my interpretive dance skills and it was all gravy!

But i digress. Back to the day I thought I was a secret agent.

So it is my second day in Delhi and I am trying to explain to Balvant and Vimal that I need to find a place to exchange my travellers checks. There is some argument in Hindi about where exactly we should go but I have a trusty map of all the Thomas Crowns and American Expresses in the area (I prepped extremely well for this trip). They seemed surprised that I knew more than they. Which is when I began to understand that they are not from Delhi but that they came some distance as a courtesy to their Uncle and my Aunt in the States. So really, we are all exploring Delhi together!

Digressed again...Anyway, they hired a taxi driver who spoke English to take us around for the day beginning with Thomas Crown which, if you are unfamiliar, is basically a global money exchange storefront. I attempted to introduce myself to the driver with my friendliest American "hello!" but he turned his eyes away quickly and mumbled something possibly close to hello. It's only been 2 days, yet I have noticed men here do not always make eye contact with women nor do they always care what you have to say; which is why it is ironic is that all 3 of these men have adjusted their lives in some way to accommodate me, a woman. So in some ways, perhaps they are annoyed with even having to do this deed but "a dollar make you holler" right?

So I walk into Thomas Crown...me and my 3 new "friends" Balvant, Vimal and the taxi driver who didn't introduce himself. I walk up to the counter and my 3 friends walk up with me. I take out $200 in American Express travellers checks and my 3 friends watch like I'm a You Tube clip . I give a gesturing look for a little privacy and they backed up but not too much... still close enough for me to feel breath on my neck.

Then the man exchanging my $$$ starts acting like a jerk. He's telling me how I should take my Rupees. I am getting Rs 11,400 and he wants to give me 20 Rs500 bills! I don't want large wads of cash so I ask for Rs1000 bills and he says, "Miss you don't need that many." At this point, with the Three Amigos hoovering over my back and this dude trying to tell me what I NEED, I almost read them all a page from the BITCH PLEASE, I'M FROM CHICAGO Chronicles! But I kept it cool and kept it moving. Kept it moving right to the bathroom.

Why the bathroom you ask?

Because I don't trust any of these Brown People! And I've watched way too many Liam Neeson movies so all I am picturing is the SET UP...or the OVERLAY for the UNDERPLAY as my brother Grip would say. They all know how much cash I am carrying right? In my movie, they are phoning the 4th man right now to come "rob" us as we walk back to the car. The 4th man gets me for all I got and the Three Amigos buy me a consolatory Chai and act like it's just another day on the tough streets of Delhi. I'm out $200 and the next scene is the UNDERPLAY: 4 guys laughing all the way to the State Bank of India.

So what did I do in the bathroom? Diversified my money of course! Some in my bra, some deep in the passport holder, some in a pill box, a little in my shoe and small bills in the obvious wallet. Not getting me with the BANNA IN THE TAILPIPE! (remember that scene from Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop?!)

I guess I wasn't that much of a secret agent but I sure felt like one when I slipped into the bathroom pretending I was Angelina Jolie!

No harm was done; no robbery; made it home with all my money; and had a great day sightseeing. Can't be too careful though, right? ;-)

Posted by Ivoriejenkins 05:44 Archived in India Tagged thomas_crown travellers_checks overlay underplay

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Comments

This is the highlight of my day!...so far (its only 9am so I should probably leave room for something amazing later.) But can I just say, I so look forward to your posts and I'm anxiously awaiting the next episode of your adventure! Love you!!

by Tara

Remember what I taught you. Trust no one, and everyone has a weak spot in their hand. It's like the pebble of sand and the giant. This is our secret.

by Jake

Ivorie.....this is absolutely extraordinary. The exotic nature of the location combined with your exceptional writing skills spells for a great book in the making. I can't wait for you to sign my copy :) Much love and be safe

by Robert Rainer

LOVE THIS STORY!!! This sounds EXACTLY like something I would do...lmbo. Don't mess with us Chicago folks...lol

by LaTrina

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