Health, travel, environment and other related topics. Tips and tricks for keeping your body in shape for spiritual life. Taking care of your health while traveling in India.
Safety While Traveling In India -
Madhava - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 02:11:29 +0530
I think the article on the Delhi taxi-walla
robbing and killing the Australian lady with a screw-driver may provoke some discussion on safety of travel in India.
Advaitadas - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 02:29:19 +0530
I was myself once kidnapped with wife and baby child by a taxi driver from IGI airport. It was very scary. He drove us all around the area in a locked cab, after changing the car at his home, so that his license plate was different (in those days there were no prepaid taxis yet, but that still did not save the poor Australian woman). Only when my then-wife threatened him that his wife and children would die as the result of his crime, he drove us safely to Radhakund. Then he was so impudent even to charge us extra money for the long ride he gave us all night! Solution: Order a taxi from Vrindavan or Radhakund if you are going there, well in advance of your trip, or stay in the arrival hall until dawn if you arrive at night, and take a bus downtown at dawn.
Madhava - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 02:55:35 +0530
One fellow devotee, a Western lady, was once coming on rickshaw from Govardhan to Radha Kund. The rickshaw-walla thought of taking his chances and drove off to a side-alley somewhere on the way and decided to rape this lady. Sadly, he was in for a good surprise as he painfully came to learn that she was pretty good in Tae Kwon Do. After a good "treatment" he drove straight to Radha Kund with tail between his legs.
braja - Sat, 20 Mar 2004 03:56:17 +0530
Another Australian woman was drugged and kidnapped in Delhi a few years back. Her body was eventually found buried in the courtyard of a house in Vrindavan.
Yes, taxis booked through local, known sources are much safer. Often cheaper too. And from Delhi airport there is also a good private bus service to the train station. I think it runs 24 hours and used to be about 15 rupees (for the frugal at heart).
I met a Western devotee travelling with a Gujarati woman from the US who had a similar escapade to Advaita. The driver took them to a secluded neighborhood where a friend of his got in. They then drove the devotees around and the "friend" pulled a knife on them, demanding their money belts. But the devotee pulled out his own knife and held it to the throat of the driver! He made the taxi driver take them to a busy place and they made their escape.
For the martially untrained, I highly recommend mace also. Not sure if it is available outside the US but after my wife was attacked/harassed several times, she used to carry it. Unfortunately she crashed her bike once and dropped it. A young boy found it and thought it was some kind of perfume.
Poor guy. He was one of her students too.
I think it is very important to realize that the attitude of many Indian males to Western women are derived from the movies, MTV, etc. They think many are loose and/or are generally intrigued and afraid of a Western woman's perceived sexuality. Unfortunately in Vrindaban this is also mixed with an environment where many illicit activities have taken place.
I once had to confront a drunk soldier who groped at my wife when we boarded a train. The passengers were sympathetic, somehow understanding my broken Hindi (in Bengal) but it was quite frightening. I forced him off the train, which thankfully took off with him standing on the platform beckoning me to fight him.
Besides physical harm and sexual advances, you can never, ever, expect that your possessions are safe when travelling. I've had numerous friends robbed with their bags under their seats, between their legs. A moment's inattention and your bag is gone. Thus it's always good to travel in a group and not when overtired. I had two pickpocket attempts: once in Loi Bazaar--a woman and her children begging--and once in Navadwipa. I somehow unconsciously knew what was going on and chased the thief down. He made out as if he were part of the ferry crew, moving me aside to tie up the ropes at the ghat. Then he got off the boat and made for another. I knew that my pocket felt lighter and in an instant set off after him. (I normally always carried my money and passport in one of those slings, under my clothes but for some reason had it in my pocket that day.) I pulled him off the other boat just as it was pulling away and started going thru his pockets. After the third I was in a panic as a crowd was starting to form and I thought I might have wrongly accused him. Then in his last pocket I found my money pouch. Accounts of what happened next vary, but the part I remember clearly is a large laborer--huge by Bengali standards--pummelling the guy in the face, full-fisted. I decided to make my exit at that point.
nabadip - Mon, 22 Mar 2004 23:23:01 +0530
It is just speculation, and sad to state it at this tragic point, but perhaps the poor lady would have had a chance of survival, if she had cooperated fully and surrendered all her possessions including the pre-paid-taxi receipt. I was once robbed at gun-point within Calcutta airport precinct; I just gave my stuff to the robbers. I had a diamond-ring on my little finger that did not come off easily, one guy wanted to cut off my finger. I calmed him down and convinced him that I will give it to him. Fortunately I had passport, ticket, credit card and cash in a pouch around my neck, as I always have.
I think it can be decisive to judge the situation correctly, whether to go for it and risk it all, or just to surrender and let everything go. My situation was clear, though: I could not know whether that country made pistol was really loaded, and guessed it was, and the other guys menacing with the daggers were dangerous enough themselves too. For me the incident was clearly a divine guidance:...to get rid of that ring, and to accept the more sincerely practised awareness of the omnipresence of Sri Nitai into my life.
Another sad conclusion: Those uninvolved taxi-wallas are now living with the memory that this type of action does not pay out. In a way that makes them safer for us, at least the ones in Delhi.