Delhi is a whole different vibe to Mumbai.
This is the place where that horrible rape occurred. Since then, tourism evidently has dropped off considerably, especially from the US.
I noticed this walking around the city streets today. Last time I was here, at the same time two years ago, there were tourists swarming all over Connaught Place – one of the main shopping hubs in the centre of the city. Today I saw hardly any foreigners.
Getting a taxi here is an ordeal. All the cab drivers try to rip you off. It gets tiring after a while. In Mumbai, that doesn’t happen. Or rarely does it happen, in my experience.
None of the drivers here use meters, so you have to negotiate the fare before you enter the cab. It’s like haggling in a camel market. It’s frustrating, when all you want to do is get in the cab and go.
Also, you need to know your fare prices before you even begin this negotiation. And if you’re new to the city, that’s difficult.
Last night Jennifer and I took a cab to dinner. It took about 20 minutes to negotiate the fare to Rp500 – to the restaurant and back, including waiting time. Just so there was absolutely no misunderstanding, I stressed: there and back – there and back. And the driver agreed.
Of course when we got back, he howled that the Rp500 was for one way – and I owed him another 500 rupees. This was not an instance of getting lost in translation – he spoke good English. He was simply trying to scam another 500 rupees.
Jennifer, being the kind soul that she is, told me sternly that I should give him the extra 500 rupees, but I refused. The driver was a cheater.
In Mumbai I’d often gone the other way – and given huge tips to drivers who’d been good natured and helpful. But this fellow was aggressive and hostile right from the start. So I gave him only what we’d agreed on.
I’ll be glad to leave Delhi tomorrow. It’s not that the place is unsafe. Not at all. I never worry about personal safety here. Yes I’m a man, and being a woman here in Delhi and up north can be tricky – especially in the rural areas in Haryana and UP – but if you’re sensible then you won’t have any problems. It’s way more dangerous in Sydney.
Today Jennifer and I met the head of a TV station that’s owned by the man – the billionaire friend- that we had breakfast with yesterday morning. The station specialises in spiritual content, and it’s evidently hugely popular throughout India.
The TV honcho watched my sizzle reel, and was impressed. He asked a lot of questions about the film, and told me that he thought it would be very profitable. He’s going to give his “recommendation” to his boss – but it seemed he was very positive about it all.
Separately though, while I was in his office he made some phone calls to a couple of internationally renown swamis in Rishikesh, which is where we’re going tomorrow. Rishikesk and the nearby Haridwar are both on the sacred Ganges River, and both are regarded as holy towns. So it looks like, with this fellow’s help, I’ll be getting to meet and interview these swamis.
Once again, I was astonished today at how everything seems to be happening for me, without effort, and without my asking. People are just stepping up and offering to help.
It also occurred to me that yesterday, when the billionaire fellow offered to invest in the film, he did so without my asking. He looked at the sizzle reel, asked me a few perfunctory questions, then told me he wanted to invest. I never asked him to do so –
I’ve never worried about funds coming together for this movie. I’ve always said that the right people will step forward with the right amount of money at the right time and for the right reasons. And that’s what’s happened, and is happening.
The film is making itself. I’m just the tillerman.