banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner banner
BEWARE !!!!!

tracy leggett re danger in delhi

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:06 AM
"Tracy L"

Dear travellers,

I would like to advise extreme caution when taking pre-paid taxis from the airport in Delhi. I would suggest you read the following account. Here is our (shortened) story...
Doctor Malik has asked me to write this and I think it is important that you know this in order to exercise caution.
Doctor Manu Malik, the hostel owner, had advised us to get a pick up from him. We didn't want to bother him, so got a prepaid taxi from Delhi airport as we had done this in Mumbai. We were two females travelling together. We landed in Delhi December 26th, 2010.
The taxi driver approached us, and I found this odd, but since pre pay taxis are all recorded in a log, at the airport, we considered maybe I was being paranoid. The taxi driver took us one hour in the wrong direction. He said he was 'lost' and took us to a 'tourist information centre'. We had no idea where we were but had no reason to doubt at this stage, and thought we were close to our hostel. So we sent the taxi away.
However, this was the start of a nightmare. They seemed a little 'smooth' in the 'tourist office', introducing us to everyone, this is uncle, cousin, etc. They offered us chai. I said no. The man tried several times to question why we wouldn't drink his chai, and "did I think there were drugs in it?" I knew there probably were and I wanted to run, but we still had no way of knowing where we were. They showed us photos of their 'tours' and wanted us to come out and 'party' with them. This gave me a very bad feeling and I decided something was clearly wrong. we told them we did not want to party, we were just keen to get to our hostel. He showed us very real looking photos of their tours, with smiling tourists in the mountains.
Meanwhile he tried to suggest we stay in their accomodation. I asked which street we were currently in. He would not tell me clearly where we were on his map. Later I found he had pointed to a different area of Delhi.
Meanwhile, the men were round the corner, busting our locks on our big bags, as we luckily had all our valuables with us, hidden. We only noticed later, when I noticed my zip was half open and later than evening we noticed my friend's lock had been smashed.
To cut a long story short, they then pretended to call our accomodation, when in fact they were calling one of their associates to come and walk us to 'our hotel'. The man at the tourist information office tried to call me back inside, but I didn't go back. I now see he was trying to separate us. They took both of us by foot to a suspicious-looking building, and inside told us this was our hotel. We said no this is not. The men reacted in anger and yelled and screamed at us as we ran for our lives down four flights of steps. We ran to an auto rickshaw waiting outside.
"Police" I demanded. Our hearts sank as he turned around driving and grinning, "no I take you to tourist information office, you don't want police". He got onto his phone, and we realised he was one of them, as he discussed 'police' and drove us through part of Delhi. He tried every tactic to get us back to the office and delay us, pulling over several times. I kept insisting police police police.
We finally saw our chance. We came into a nice street, full of nice shops. We had to pretend to be calm, then lied and said our friends were in the jeweller's shop, then jumped out and ran to the shop after throwing money at the auto driver. We knew if he took us to the tourist information office, we were in even more grave danger. Thankfully the shop owners were so lovely and helped us call the police. However it seems we have no copy of the police report. I am following this up with the embassy, as I would like to know that this is taken seriously.
Manu, the hostel owner kindly came to collect us, from one hour away. He was so kind to do this. Unfortunately our story is not uncommon.
Please take heed from our story. Do not assume a tourist office/hotel/taxi is real unless you have proof. This is not our whole experience of India, but a scary chapter. Please arrange a pick up from your accomodation in Delhi. India is a wonderful country. But exercise caution and common sense. We would have left the 'tourist office' sooner, had we known where we were, but this was part of their plan, keeping us in the dark on purpose. For every question we had, they came up with scripted answers and they were very very good.
These people are dangerous, and I cannot imagine what may have happened had we drank the chai tea and stayed at their 'hotel', which they claimed belonged to Dr. Malik. We saw other tourists at the 'hotel' and we wonder what happened to them, as they were leaving their big bags in the care of these people. We felt sickened.
I am very well-travelled but never have I come across such a scary situation. Our first three hours in Delhi were a complete shock compared to many other areas in India. Please consider arranging a pick-up, and if you are in doubt, do not be led into the tourist office by your driver, unless it is recommended in your guidebook as an authentic one. Try to have a phone with you at all times. It is best not to accept chai or other food or drinks from people you do not know, and you can always say that you have a stomach bug if you need an excuse and do not wish to offend. Our guidebook referred to this scam as fairly harmless, but in our experience this was not 'harmless'. We felt very shaken and saddened by this incident, and thank Manu for helping us. I have the prepaid taxi receipt number, and will be following this incident up with the correct channels. Kindest regards Tracy from New Zealand.