Today is the day I get my money back from Nayeem.
First up, I get a necessary dose of Western comfort thanks to my fellow solo travelers, Garrett and Katherine, a costume designer from NOLA currently escaping her LA lifestyle. A sympathy breakfast and tapeworm story later, and I’m off to face the big bad wolf.
I make it to Connaught Place, find Delhi tours, open the door, and beeline it for Nayeem, sitting opposite the entrance.
I tell him that I want my money back and don’t want to spend more time doing that than necessary. I tell him that he misrepresented his services and guidance, and that I have absolutely no desire to travel with him and his company.
He tries the emotional route first, asking me what happened and to whom I spoke, trying to convince me that it is my hotel that misguides me. He tells me that he gave me the best deal and that everything is booked.
I am seething, and I think it scares him a little. I tell him that I know that it is illegal for him to parade around as the government bureau and that I will summon the tourism police and tell the potential clients next door that he is a fraud. His colleague tries to interject, showing me their license and telling me that they are indeed a tour operator.
I tell them that I don’t care, and that the bottom line is that they lied to me. I want my money back.
Nayeem tells me that the paper has their cancellation policy–25%. I tell him no more than 10%.
He tells me that he’s already given me a big discount and presses me to know what happened and why and that he is giving me legit service. He says 20 %.
Through clenched teeth, I tell him that I now know well enough not to look to his compatriots for advice and that I found it on my own. I tell him that I know that he charged me more than double the actual costs. I tell him 15%.
He tells me that he is actually losing money and changes tactics. Now, he is offering me chai and asking me to think it over and not cancel.
I am about to lose my shit. I tell him that I don’t want to waste his time or mine, and there is no way I am going on this trip.
He continues to press with the, “why.” I think he might be genuinely surprised by my vehement refusal to entertain him.
I feel myself about to lose it. My anger turns to bitter frustration, disappointment and disillusionment, and I feel the tears in my eyes and in my throat.
“Oh no, don’t cry,” says Nayeem. “Ok, ok. Fifteen percent.”
I am stunned speechless. Although my tears are genuine, I would’ve turned on the waterworks eons ago had I known this man was susceptible.
We agree on 15%, but Nayeem tells me that he won’t have the refunded money for another 45 minutes. Or, I can wait the 25 days for the card to charge back.
I want cash, and I want it now. I tell Nayeem that there is no way in hell I am going anywhere or signing any sort of cancellation clause until I have all of my money.
Suddenly, 45 minutes becomes right now. Nayeem counts 500 rupee note after note in front of me, which I recount twice. He is trying to be conciliatory, but I want none of it.
When I’m satisfied, I sign a paper saying that I’ve been reimbursed in cash for the cancellation and that I won’t dispute the credit card charge, provided the bank notes he gives me are clean.
As I sign the agreement, Nayeem urges me not to cancel. I look at him as if he’s crazy. He hands me a copy of the agreement.
Then, as if there was still something to salvage between us, Nayeem leans over to offer some wisdom, still thinking I’ve been duped by my hotel: “Don’t trust anyone,” he tells me dramatically.
I stare at him in disbelief: “Nayeem, I am learning that lesson the hard way and am taking your advice not to trust people here. That includes you.”
With that, I rise from his desk, see that he finally understands my dilemma, and storm out.
Damn, it feels good.