Good Touts

#1 May 6th, 2004, 22:31
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#1
Well there are a lot of stories on the site about bad evil touts.
Yes we've all had run ins but in the end they're only doing a job and trying to earn a living...granted they can be in your face, but on some occasions they can be helpful and actually rescue us from being stuck.

For instance ...during one trip I was in Mumbai and had to get to the airport during a taxi strike at a time when there was no other way.
After discussions with the picketing drivers i managed to get a ride ...all cloak and dagger stuff ...
They brought up a car which they borrowed from soemone ...fixed the engine and made it purr like a foxy feline and entertained my at the time 2 year old son.
The guys only charged around 50Rus higher han the fare would have been and the journey was the best guided tour of Bombay I've ever had.
All hail the Bombay taxi drivers!!!!!!

This is one of many stories I could discuss...

So lets hear your tales of good touts / rickshaw drivers / trinket sellers etc... Im sure there are many

Bryan
#2 May 10th, 2004, 06:10
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#2
hmmmmm, the silence is deafening!
Reject violence.
#3 May 10th, 2004, 08:32
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Hmmm. Not quite a tout, but...

I did have a black-market money changer chase after me to return my wallet, which I had dropped during our transaction.

Since I had been so suspicious that he was going to cheat me on the exchange, I felt like a real jerk after that.
#4 May 10th, 2004, 10:32
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#4
Well, I feel sorry for anyone that has to earn a living by being a tout. Certainly not a pleasant job, and it is not a regular way to bring in any sort of income. As annoying as it is....I have to feel sorry for someone trying to support themselves in such a way. I'm sure if they had a chance they would pick a better job. Just like a begger would probably prefer being a tout--a tout would probably pefer doing something else. And there are so many of them, they also have to compete with each other. No wonder they are in a tourist's face the minute they sense a possibility. And if they can bring a customer to the place of business...it is a benefit to both the business and the tout....and yes, we probably pay more for the experience, too....but coming from a wealthier background than the tout--it certainly is not THAT much money that affects our lives....but perhaps that tout has a family...parents, siblings, maybe even children that depend on the income.

My first experience in Delhi (oh, I'll never forget the thrill) was taking a bicycle rickshaw ride through Old Delhi. I was so overwhelmed by EVERYTHING that when I asked the bicycle rickshaw driver how much it woudl cost, and he said 100 rupees? I agreed immediately. He looked so surprised and thrilled--then I remembered, oh no, I'm supposed to bargain! But after more than two hours with him huffing and puffing and taking us to the spice market, etc.....I began to feel I should have bargained him UP to at least 300!! When he timidly suggested that we visit "his shop" I remembered all the guide books and that he would get a kickback for taking us there. Actually, that was the ONLY reason why I went into the shop--determined to buy something for him to get his kickback. Oh, and also my daughter wanted an ankle bracelet. But I discovered that reading the guidebooks and "knowing" the game was different from being in it in real time.

The kickback system was really amazing. I know that our driver got a kickback everytime we went somewhere and bought something...but I guess that is normal. We wandered into a shoe shop in Jaipur and bought a couple pairs of sandles that my friend had bargained down quite a bit. A guide with a busload of Japanese people came in and were so excited by the CHEAP prices originally given them. Boy, I'm sure that bus driver and guide made a fortune with that tour group! And I can't really blame them. Everyone came out happy with the deal--the Japanese bought several pairs of shoes each at a real bargain if you compare the prices with Japan--and the shop, driver, and guide made lots of money, too.

I was really glad to travel with my Indian friend. People thought she was my guide--and when they quoted original prices, my friend was shocked....and said to them "in Delhi, it only costs xxxx amount." They looked surprised and told her that she would get the difference in the amount. She was shocked and said she wasn't the guide, but a friend. She was given a good price on a package of saffron--but only after she promised the person that it was for her, and not for me. (what would a foreigner know what to do with saffron, she said to him).

Anyway...getting off the topic here about touts. I guess they are annoying, but they have to make a living the same as everyone else. I hope there are lots of nice ones out there that do provide some sort of service.
#5 May 11th, 2004, 09:20
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When I was in Shimla last summer, I was befriended by a Kashmiri porter/tout. We would meet up every day in front of Christ Church and while away a few hours smoking, drinking tea and talking about nothing and everything.

It was in those times that I came to understand what his job was really like and how much he just wanted to make a little honest money to send home to his family.

Since this experience I always ask porters/touts/rickshawwallahs about their families and it is suprising how quickly their "working" persona falls away.
Me fail English? That's unpossible!--Ralph Wiggum
#6 May 12th, 2004, 05:28
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#6
Allan ...Similar story
On my second trip to McLeod Ganj in 1995
A Kashmiri shop owner touted/arranged for us to stay at his family house boat. The guy ended up a good friend and we shared many an afternoon talking about life family politics and the like over many a pot of kasmiri tea

When we arrived his nephew was running the family boat and I have to say he was amazing ...I arrived severely ill with gardia and he and his family basically nursed me back to health.

This was the time when the hostages were taken ...we were there at the time so as you can imagine business was bad.

He asked if he could accompany us to Leh to try and find new guests. We happily agreed as he had ended up a friend and we done the rounds with him touting for business. ...yes we became the hated tout ...3 scots and a kashmiri hahaha

We found him some customers and he went back a happy man
We later bumped into the people who had nothing but rave reviews for the boat, him and his family...

Now skip forward 7 years to 2002 when I returned with my partner and son

We were walking down one of the roads in McLeod and I hear a shout ...Bryan ...I didnt recognise him ...but he recognised me....
I couldn't believe it. Again I shared many an enjoyable pot of tea with him.
He now runs the family shop in McLeod

The Kashmiris' have a bad rep as touts but they do what they need to feed their families. they do what they are good at...selling and raving to us on the beauties of Kashmir ...and I must say they don't lie about its beauty

So stop and chat ...See through the mask of the tout and perhaps you'll see the human underneath ...It's all too easy in our Western bubble to instantly jump to the defensive posture sometimes it pays to step back and re-think the relationship...
Is it so bad that we cannot show common manners

How many times have we seen Westerners shouting and acting totally out of character (i hope) to some tout.We are not in a rush to get somewhere, we have all day ...we're on holiday after all and generally in India the one thing we have in abundance is time if not money ...

Im rambling now so I'll stop
Cheers
Bryan
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.
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#7 May 12th, 2004, 05:32
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#7
Great story, Bryan!
#8 May 12th, 2004, 06:15
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#8

Talking

Bryan...Great story that takes some of the steam out of the "rapacious Kashmiri" moniker. It is funny, I also became a tout for a few days. It's amazing to get a glimpse of how things are from the other side of the business. Even if it is from the safe vantage point of the westerner.

I had similar experiences with Calcutta rickshaw-wallahs and hotel touts across the North and the Northeast of India. Almost every time I took the time/initiative to interact with them in a non business fashion, we ended up sharing tea and having a real interaction.

Allan
#9 May 12th, 2004, 06:29
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#9
Does anyone remember the tout/dude in Kovalem selling sun glasses?

His cry was ..SUN GLASSES COCONUT OIL in a style and voice unique to him

He wore a 70s suit and was the coolest dude in southern india
Haven;t been there in years but i got reports he was still there a couple of years back

The guy was pure entertainment and a really nice guy
#10 May 12th, 2004, 12:30
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