India is not just any place, if you go there will surely return with tons of memories. I have a lot of stories from my recent trip to India and I intend to share some of them here. However, since the bad memories are the first we forget, I will begin with them.
In the following lines I will present a few of the many situations in which I got angry because people who were trying to take money away from me by all possible means. While traveling, I was many times in the situation when others tried to fool me. However what I’ve experienced in India exceeded by far all my previous experiences.
Lobby boys and hotels
Most of the hotels where I stayed in India had many lobby boys, and they would use any opportunity to make you a favor and then quickly ask for a tip. In Mumbai I almost got scared when an army of lobby boys grabbed our backpacks and took them to our room from which they didn’t left until they received what they wanted.
In New Delhi, the lobby boy would knock on our door continuously to ask if we want food, beers or marijuana. In the same hotel I paid 20$ for doing my laundry, several times more than you would normally pay, mostly because I was naive enough not to ask for the price in advance. Later, when we went to Agra with a private car, the manager of the hotel got angry on us for not choosing his car services instead.
In Varanasi, while on the terrace of our hotel, we made the big mistake of opening a bottle of (cheap, local) whiskey and two of the lobby boys (who would occasionally metamorphose in cooks or guides) went crazy and thirsty and we had no other option than sharing the drink with them.
Most taxi drivers would often try to overcharge us. One of them, whom we hired to drive us for longer distances, always took us to many souvenir shops without always asking in advance.
Ticketing agencies and their agents
In New Delhi’s central station every person would guide us towards a different place for buying train tickets – they were sending us to private agencies from which they would receive commissions. Things got so far that a guy pretended to be security, just to divert us again and send us to a private agency; luckily my extremely irritated travel companion quickly read his game.
I understand that the price of the tickets should be more expensive in private agencies, but it was ridiculous when they were asking for prices 5 times higher than in the train station. Rather than gaining a smaller profit, they would lose us as potential customers right away.
In many shops, it was funny and annoying to see how long would the vendors took to answer when you asked about the price of an object. The extra time was needed for adjusting the price to the client.
While visiting the amazing Elephanta Caves one of the security guards that I got close to started to tell me in a very fast pace, as if he was a radio man, something that I couldn’t grasp whatsoever – most likely a description of the site. However, I did understood, at the end of his speech, that I should pay him a tip for the description that I did not ask for and which I did not understood.
In Varanasi, we were approached several times, in very subtle ways, by people who would tell us the history of the place; one of them, while asking for the tip, told me that the stories he told me cannot be found in any of those Lonely Planet guides, and maybe he was right.
Here I enumerated only a few of the situations when people tried to take advantage of us. Just imagine going through the same exercise dozens of times a day. You will get tired of having to constantly be vigilant. So this is why I think India is maybe not a good place to relax.
However, since I want to end this article in a positive note, I should add that the places I visited in India were either big cities or very touristic, so it’s likely that you will receive a different welcoming if you will visit places in India where people are not so used with the tourists. Or, if you are very rich, you can stay in expensive hotels and purchase expensive services, so you will not have to deal with this – but you will miss an important test in your life.