My wife and I are on our way back to Anand on Sept 26th. We will be flying to Ahmedebad this time, but I wanted to share some info on car rentals.
When we went to India in January for our retrieval, we rented a car in Mumbai with Avis. Getting to the Avis lot was the most difficult part. I did not include our flight information on my rental reservation. I was told we would have been picked up at the airport if I had
We were gouged a little by the taxi driver who had to get directions a few times, but we arrived at 11:30PM and started the process. Things move a little slower at that time of night and we finally departed at 12:30AM.
Navigating Mumbai in the middle of the night is not for the novice traveler. The gods were on my side that night and I somehow drove straight to the NH8(highway to Anand). We drove through the night and arrived in Anand at 8:00AM. The highway might be better now, but the first half was intense. Tractor trailers don't always have tail lights. They are also building overpasses every couple of miles. This means that with 200 meters warning, they put a sign out that say DIVERSION(or something close) and the highway ends. You veer left for a 1/4 mile(.4 KM
) and then back on the highway. This goes on forever, but it becomes more fun as it goes on.
When we got closer to Vadodara, we realized we wouldn't have enough rupees for the upcoming tolls. Unless you bring a GPS with the India SD card, GET LOTS OF RUPEES BEFORE YOU LEAVE MUMBAI!!!. We must have stopped at a dozen shops to ask for an ATM. They seemed to understand our question, but understanding the responses was impossible. We finally stumbled upon one, but I couldn't find it again if my life depended on it.
So the sun is finally up. We're almost to Anand. We have plenty of money. And.....the traffic starts.
Camel drawn carts, water buffalo wandering, mopeds everywhere, buses, tractor trailers, tuktuks.......and no traffic signs or signals. Through all this chaos, we found La Casa Inn and checked in. Needless to say, it was a very exciting half day after we landed in Mumbai.
So if your going to drive here are some pointers.
1. Think of your car as a fish in a school. Traffic is very fluid and you must go with the flow.
2. Your horn is your friend. Indians use the horn at every intersection. It means a few things.
a. I'm taking the right of way.
b. I'm coming through the intersection.
c. I'm coming into traffic.
d. I'm overtaking you.
e. I have a pulse.
I followed Hitesh(Dr Patel's Husband and also a Dr Patel) and he said I wasn't using my horn enough. Honk at every intersection and every time you need to pass and you'll catch on.
3. Be assertive, but have patience.
4. The rules you learned at home do not apply here.
5. Get insurance. In 3-1/2 weeks, I had no dings dents or scratched until the second to last day. I tried squeezing through some traffic and was gouged by the fender of tuktuk. It was a new car and I felt bad, but Avis only charged me $70 for the repair. I would have tried to get VISA to cover it, but I don't think it would have been worth my time.
6. Take a GPS with an India Maps SD card. I didn't have it last time, but I'm taking it this time and I don't even plan on driving.
7. Pull in your mirrors when you park. I saw many cars missing a mirror or two.
8. DO NOT RENT A CAR unless you are very comfortable in traffic. A car gave us a great amount of freedom, but taxis are cheap and with daily injections(retrieval trip) or a newborn in tow, it may be easier to be a passenger.
So good luck to anyone who rents a car. It is an adventure in itself. Not for the faint of heart, but an experience you will not soon forget.
PS I don't check this post very often. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org