3 Tips for Hiring a Driver in India

 In Baroda, as in all of India, you'll be sharing the road with cows

In Baroda, as in all of India, you'll be sharing the road with cows

Commissions and conversations: what to expect from your hired drivers.


The next morning we enjoyed parantha and pao bhurji for breakfast. Our friend George later explained that pao means bun.

We followed the same routine as the day before and stopped by the tourist office above Amici Cafe, except that instead requesting a return to our hotel, we required transportation to the airport.

As shocking as this might be, we decided to skip the Taj Mahal.

We packed up our luggage and put it in the back. Our driver asked us where we wanted to go. We told him Qutb Minar and Hauz Khas Village. He asked why we wanted to go to Hauz Khas, telling us, “It's very expensive, no negotiation, fixed prices.” We told him that we were looking for handicrafts, preferably old and/or painted wood, and he assured us that he had a special place to take us to should we like.


You'll be taken to shops where they'll expect you to buy something — and will be upset if you don't.

We've come to accept that a hired driver is likely to take you to patronize businesses where they make a commission. The shop usually pays the guide if the tourist makes a purchase. In our case, we were a hard sell, and our driver was clearly expecting us to make more purchases. He would click his tongue when we left a shop he took us to empty-handed.


Sometimes it's easier to lie.

We were asked by both of our drivers how long we were going to be in India and if we had plans to see the Taj Mahal? As shocking as this might be, we decided to skip the Taj Mahal. We know it's the pride of India and all that — but we had other things we wanted to see on this trip. 

Almost everyone we met asked us if we were visiting the Taj, and we found it easier to lie and just say yes rather than face their indignation.


Don't let them tell you where to go.

We agreed to skip Hauz Khas (a decision we would live to regret), and our driver took us to a shop located beneath a flyover. According to the gentleman who greeted us, we were the first customers, and as such, he would offer us a very fair price. We politely told him that we were just looking and attempted to wander through unmolested. But this proved to be impossible as we were the sole customers.

We attempted to have a genuine conversation with our salesman, and he told us a story about a rabbit as big as a donkey.

The shop had many beautiful things, but most of them were at a price well above what we had been looking to spend. We did end up purchasing a figurine of Krishna and his consort Rada, though.