The Taj Mahal, Agra


Jeffrey was our rickshaw driver in Agra. At first we had declined his services, but his gentle persistence paid off. After walking along the side of the road for fifteen minutes with Jeffrey riding alongside, we gave in and clambered aboard.
Neither of us felt very comfortable; it seemed very colonial for we two Westerners to be transported by the efforts of an impoverished local. But, we rationalised, we would not be doing anyone a favour by depriving Jeffrey of an income and the ability to feed his family.
When we arrived at the Taj Mahal, we tried to pay him - we would be inside for hours, we said, and he should find some more business from some of the other tourists. But Jeffrey insisted on waiting for us - presumably there was not much other business.
We were severely reprimanded by a well-dressed Indian when we returned to Jeffrey later and immediately agreed to his (ridiculously low) rate for the trip back to our hotel. The well-dressed man complained bitterly that by not bargaining hard for a lower rate (it was something like fifteen cents for half an hour of strenuous effort on Jeffrey's part) we were contributing to inflation in the local economy:
"Now, these rickshaw-wallahs sit around all day waiting for rich foreigners, and the Indians cannot afford the inflated rates."