• this is india one

This is India! (one)

[I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them, which has inspired this new series This is India! It’s not that I want to make fun of people or have a rant- this is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I’m going to put them up on Friday’s unless I have no cool story to tell.]

It was our second time at this hotel in Rishikesh. We had come the day before for tea. It went fine. But, here was how our breakfast order went over the next day:

“I’ll have the ginger lemon tea, toast with jam, a sprite, and hash browns” aka the “American breakfast pre-set on the menu. Chloe orders the Isreali breakfast.

“Yes ma’am” the waiter says, as repeats the order to the guy next to him, who then writes down my order.

I watch as the order is called on the phone to, what I’m assuming was the kitchen.

The food arrives 30 minutes later: Chai, non-toasted bread with no jam, a Fanta, and French fries.

I forgot what they brought Chloe, only that they messed it up royally and forgot half of it.I decide not to say anything about the fries, as maybe they don’t know what hash browns are.

I say, “I wanted a sprite”. 4 Indian men come up to see what the fuss is about.

“Ah, yes ma’am, we don’t have so I brought Fanta.” The other men watch closely to see my reaction, which was an eye-roll.

this is india one

You see, in Indian often times when they don’t have something they don’t want to tell you. They hate to let you down. I’ve asked shop-keepers if they have something and instead of saying no, they say yes then just walk away and don’t come back until I leave.

Lesson 1: Indian’s don’t say no.

They also won’t admit to not knowing directions. Don’t bother asking random people. He opened the Fanta before serving it thinking, like the clever boy he is, “now she has to drink it!”

I say, “I ordered lemon ginger tea.” “Ah, yes you did, okay I will get it.”

He doesn’t come back. 20 minutes later, the manager comes by asking how breakfast is. Chloe only got half of what she ordered, and I got all wrong items of what I ordered. We tell him.

He calls for my tea and apologizes for the mix up. He says the order got mixed up over the telephone. They happily bring me Lemon Honey tea, problem solved! I’m left to deduct that apparently they had no ginger but no one wanted to tell me.

The check comes out. I am charged for both teas (obviously). There is an extra charge for jam, which was included in the menu item I picked and I didn’t get it anyway. Then there is a 20% service charge.

I tell the man, “listen, you didn’t give me jam, you took the chai tea I didn’t want back to the kitchen, and yesterday there was no service charge, why is there today?”

He takes the bill and writes “+40 rupees” and says, “so you can pay yesterday’s service charge now,” with a big-ass smile and absolutely no sarcasm noted.

Chloe and I about lost it laughing. It was so funny we couldn’t even be that mad. We paid the bill price and walked out of the restaurant. The manager, who seemed cool, stopped us at the door of the hotel asking, how lovely was everything?  I’m like, “dude, this place sucks so bad.”

We explained the situation, he pulled out money and gave us the service charge back saying, “there is not service charge here. They were cheating you”. We got 100 rupees back for the two days.

Well, duh they were cheating us. But nice that he gave us our money back, the ONLY shocking and out-of-the-ordinary part of this story.

I’ll never forget Chloe said, “Sometimes I like your big mouth”.

Most jobs in India take 20 people to do. If just one guy takes your order and tells the cook it would have worked a lot better! They love, love, love, to delegate. As a nurse, I respect that. India is the only place I’ve been where there can be 30 people behind the counter at KFC staring blankly while it takes 25 minutes for your chicken to come out. The good news is it keeps a billion people in work; the bad news is it makes absolutely no sense.

this is india one

Lesson 2: It takes at least 10 people to do one job in India.

I’ve been in India a while now and don’t get annoyed by this kind of thing anymore, I actually like when it happens because I just find it hilarious to count how many people it takes to get something done, and how the end result will be completely different that what you order.

I order soft couch cushions (and point to exact ones I want) with a tan couch cover,  We decide on the fabric together.  What do I get? Hard cushions (I specifically said no to) and a brown couch cover. It is presented 5 days late to me with glee and expectation of a tip.

This is India!

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Jo June 6, 2014 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Oh I like this series! You can only hope you get a something resembling your order haha.

  2. Hannah Wasielewski June 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    This is great! I feel like Brazil has a lot of “unnecessary” jobs as well, but then again they have a very low unemployment rate. However, I don’t know if I could handle getting ripped off all the time like that. Whenever it happens to me in Brazil I always get really mad, especially since I speak Portuguese!

    • Rachel Jones June 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      I am going to learn hindi this summer to help me prevent all the rip-offs! You’re totally right.

  3. Fiona June 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Ha ha ha. I have lived through too many stories like this except in Africa we said T.I.A- This is Africa

  4. Hope & Sugar June 7, 2014 at 1:08 am - Reply

    Haha.. This is hilarious. This is what we go through every. single.day. Living in India is not easy. Your patience is tested and how!

  5. Shalu Sharma June 7, 2014 at 10:46 am - Reply

    I agree with you entirely, we Indians never say NO. We can do anything and the work will be done to the best quality. Amazing isn’t it. This is called “jugarh”. Something that non-Indians won’t understand.

  6. Marie June 7, 2014 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Good grief. I’d be really mad if I was told something was in stock and the shopkeeper just never came back. Bad enough that happens to you as a ‘foreigner’. But do locals get the same treatment?

    • Rachel Jones June 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      I actually think sometimes they do, but mostly because they can explain in the same language why they don’t have something, it wouldn’t happen to a local as often. My Indian girlfriends say it doesn’t happen to them.

      • Ant August 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

        So, don’t you think some racism is involved here, since locals don’t experience this (as your Indian friends confirmed, they don’t)? Perhaps they see you as a blond representative of Western Colonialism? Think about it. Don’t be naive.

        • Rachel Jones August 11, 2014 at 1:32 am - Reply

          I don’t think I’m naive at all. I write about the racism and sexism I encounter in India all the time on this blog. Of course tourists and westerners are targeted for scams over locals and nationals.

  7. Rebekah June 8, 2014 at 4:29 am - Reply

    Zambia was definitely similiar in that it 20 people to do any job and you never got quite what you wanted. I’m glad you laugh. I think the key to living abroad is being able to laugh at these things. Thats awesome you got some money back though

    • Rachel Jones June 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      It took some time in India to be able to find it all funny, that’s for sure!

  8. Roxy June 8, 2014 at 7:30 am - Reply

    Hola Rachel,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for the last couple hours over several cups of tea, it’s a refreshing read :) I’m in the VERY early stages of planning my assault on the world and am hoping to start with India (it has been calling me for several years now!) around May 2015 but all my research is telling me this is a bad idea due to the heat and humidity. Would you say it’s still worth the trip or would you plan for the cooler months? I need to be in the UK mid July so am aiming to spend six weeks in the north – any tips?

    Roxy :)

    • Rachel Jones June 8, 2014 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      That is SO nice to hear! You’ll love the post I have going up this AM answering all questions on backpacking India for the first time :) May is a bad time to come unless you’re up north, then it’s perfect!

  9. Joella J in Beijing June 8, 2014 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Brilliant idea for a series. I love hearing stories like this. It’s interesting to see the differences in different countries and cultures. Some places also seem to have way too many staff and people just standing around here in China, but I don’t think it’s as bad as India! I guess it keeps people employed! :-)

  10. Lynda June 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Hahaha, I think I’m going to enjoy this series! Do they at least let you return the couch and cushions since it’s nothing like you ordered – or is that offensive?

    • Rachel Jones June 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      no returns! lol , I mean basically if you say no then they’re out that money & it just would leave them baffled and feeling ripped off- even though they were ripping me off! ugh! lol so actually, I found the materical elsewhere and our housekeeper sorted it out with the dude to fix them with the free material

  11. Runaway Brit June 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    In Vietnam we said TIV – This is Vietnam, and I have many frustrating stories like this to tell. Including the time my hungry friend ordered a meal that was to be shared for two people. Even though the waitress clearly heard me order a separate dish, and checked if we really wanted so much food, my order never arrived. When I questioned them (after my friend had eaten his entire meal for two) she admonished us for ordering too much food and refused to let me order anything else. I left that restaurant having not eaten and had to go somewhere else!

    • Rachel Jones June 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      haha it’s cracking me up how this is in so many places they say , “this is ___” ! What a horrible situation with that meal, it’s seriously baffling how that worked out lol bummer!

  12. Victoria June 13, 2014 at 2:09 am - Reply

    So true Rachel. So true. I remember that I wanted to go to the book market in Jaipur so that I could get books written by Indian writers. Ha! You would think that I wanted to go to the moon! My rikshaw driver hadn’t understood what I wanted and took me to this shop and that shop. None of them books. And of course, by the time we came back hrs later, there was a huge queue. Nobody knew what to do apparantly and nobody knew what I actually wanted,and why I was upset either. Sigh! That’s India for you. :)

    • Rachel Jones June 13, 2014 at 6:25 am - Reply

      haha I love hearing other stories about people have crazy days in India!

  13. Gel July 27, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Well as they said, if you considered yourself a traveler you should visit India at least once in your lifetime.
    Btw, this post makes me laughed. True enough! It’s incredible India! ❤️
    Keep writing girl!!!

  14. Sachi August 30, 2014 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Haha! This is so hilarious. It’s funny how being and Indian who reside in States now, I lose my calm on such issues while you just laughed at it. I absolutely HAVE TO read the whole series now.
    Incredible India indeed :)

    • Rachel Jones September 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sachi! That’s funny- I guess the chaos of India HAS to calm people down or else we can’t handle it!

  15. Faltugyan April 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Its probably a very random incident. probably the place was too small or just been started. In a decent restaurant such things are rare. I am shocked that the guy added service charge when actually there is none. Probably foreigners/tourists are easy bait. I am sure they will never try it with a local or any other Indian.

    Yup we do love to delegate, but who doesnt :P

    • Rachel Jones April 20, 2015 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      No I don’t think it would have been tried with a local haha

  16. Michelle Severt May 16, 2015 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, I just got to watch you on HGTV where you were house hunting with that cute guy. I know its not of my business but please tell me you guys are still happy together. I love seeing people in love! And thanks to HGTV I know about you to follow your blog! I have always wanted to travel but cant cause Im my moms caregiver, but maybe one day. For now I’ll enjoy it through you! Thanks! Michelle

    • Rachel Jones May 28, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

      hahah! yes he’s sitting across me now :) we just had a 3 week holiday in hawaii and are now back in india — guess what, house hunting AGAIN! lol because our rent went up to high in the place we got last year during filming haha

  17. Victoria Skovshoved June 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel!
    I just spent five months in India, and so know this feelings, and it really is India!
    I honestly laughed my ass of reading this. Hope you dont mind I share this on my , it’s too good and too true, and I cant count the times I have been sitting somewhere in India laughing about this exact situation.
    Thank you for sharing this feeling, it brought me way back to my own crazy memories :D
    Indian love from Denmark

    • Rachel Jones June 21, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad u can relate and it brought u a smile!!!

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