Go Around The World

The Pahar Ganj Conspiracy – An Anecdote

After we took a flight from Tehran we arrived in Delhi very early in the morning. Since we had the plan to go to Pahar Ganj, the cheapest place to find hostels in Delhi (but also something like the red light and drug district), we booked one in advance to escape all the tricksters and crazyness on the way. It is nothing special that you would get cheated in doing the most simple things. Booking a train ticket for example was nearly impossible last time because the security forces in front of the train station told me that the booking office burned down and i nearly had to fight and run away from them to get inside – first time they cheated me when they brought me to the alternative booking office… Meanwhile it was my 4th time in Delhi, so I thought I know most of the tricks. It turned out I was so wrong.

Really tired we maneuvered through all the screaming taxi drivers in front of the airport and made our way to the subway. In the tunnel there were two nice Indian guys, dressed in quite decent clothes, which told us that the airport line has some problems and they are hired by the government to take tourists to town. First I tried to resist but when they said they take the same price as the metro would cost and they just did not let us going further. We agreed and followed them to their nice and air-conditioned car and they drove us all the way to Pahar Ganj. The drivers seemed nice and after some conversation and name exchange we felt quite good, being so much faster with the taxi. Just before Pahar Ganj the roads were blocked by police barriers and the drivers started to get worried. They called some people to gather information and finally told us that there were some clashes on a religious festival the day before why the area is closed for tourists for the next days by the government.
Religious clashes are nothing impossible but we were still not convinced so I asked the guy if he can call my hostel so I can talk with them – at least to make the cancellation clear. On the phone the guy proved them true, checked my booking and apologized for not sending me the cancellation quick enough. After that, they brought us to a “government office” for those cases which is supposed to book hostels, busses or flights. The guy was still sleeping but woke up quite quickly and told us that he was awake the whole night to find hotels for all the tourists wanted to go to Pahar Ganj, but now everything would be fully booked and the best idea would be to leave Delhi as fast as possible. Best by flight for only 220€. We were shocked but denied and left the place to get a clear mind. Suddenly we saw another tourist. I ran over to her and asked her what she was doing and where she was staying. She stayed in the south of the city, ca. 30km away and since she didn´t know about any clashes we smelled the possible cheat and I paid the drivers their 60 (85 € cents) rupees immediately. When we tried to arrange a rickshaw to get out of there, there was a Sikh guy coming around the corner and since he was very friendly we sat down trying to get back to Pahar Ganj.
He didn´t know of any problem so we felt very released first but ended up on another road block with a security guard who told us and him the same story… He was shocked as well and so he brought us back to the same office. Since they couldn’t help us before we protested but
he wanted us to try at least. When he heard the same words like we did before he told the guy that he would know a hotel where we can stay for 3000 per night (~43 €) which is a completely insane price for a room in Delhi but everybody told us it should be the best option since the rest is now more expensive or unavailable. Finally, after lots of thinking we just did it, getting lost and tired (we did not sleep since more than 24 hours).
When we arrived in the hotel and got connected to the Wifi, finding no news about clashes or anything like it we started to realize… I bought a sim card and called the hostel we were supposed to stay and then it was clear, I never spoke to him, and all the guys we met since we arrived in India were just a part of the same crazy tourist cheating bullshit mafia, being perfectly-organized, great actors and even greater assholes – Hope to meet them again one day 😉