Rob busts the cons

On the boat to Elephanta, a very helpful fellow warned us not to ask anyone on the island to show us a cave, because they’ll charge us 2,000 rs. Then he sold us a guidebook for 260 rs. He told us it was the guidebook recommended by Lonely Planet.

I swear to Shiva, I need to sharpen my scam-dar.

Because if I’d opened my Lonely Planet Best of Mumbai book, I would have seen that it said the guidebooks cost 50 rs on the island, but con artists sell them for 250 at the dock.

Guess there’s been a 10-rupee inflation since publication. Rob went up to the guy, who was still on the boat targeting another white guy, and told the con artist that he would be buying back the guidebook. He said no, but then Rob said that he was going to tell the other white guy not to buy from him, so the con artist gave him back 200 rupees. It was a 60-rupee lesson.

Earlier, Rob bought a pirated DVD of Rambo on the street. He’d had a 75% success rate with Thailand’s street DVDs and was optimistic. We borrowed (rented) a DVD player from our hotel, and whaddya know, Rambo was shot hand-held in a theater, half the screen was blocked and the other half was out of focus. You could see heads of people in the theater.

We went back to the street stand and Rob told them he wanted his money back. They guy said no, and insisted that this other DVD, which he had said the day before was not as good as the one Rob originally bought, would be better. He even went down the street and pretended to test it in an electronics store.

So we took the second DVD to the same store where the manager looked at us like we were criminals for wanting to test a pirated DVD on his machine. The second DVD was worse.

Rob told the DVD pirate that he had four options.

1) Rob would stand there the rest of the day and tell people not to buy his DVDs.
2) Rob would sic the tourist police on him (we decided this was a good form of intimidation after seeing some bongo salesmen at the Gateway to India run away when the Tourist Police car approached).
3) Rob would upturn the table of DVDs, spilling them on the street.***
4) The DVD pirate would give Rob his money back.

The pirate reluctantly reached into his pockets and pulled out 100 Rs. Rob said, “I think I paid more than that.” The guy pulled out another 50. Sad to say, we couldn’t remember how much he paid. Pirates don’t write out receipts.

***Addendum: For those who don’t know Rob, he says these things in a perfectly calm, cheerful voice with a smile on his face. I think the only time I’ve heard him with anger in his voice (like, ever) was when he told a little boy near the Gateway to India to turn around and walk away when the kid wouldn’t leave us alone as we tried to hail a cab. We didn’t know why he was trying to assist us in this task, and didn’t want him to know where we were staying.