"guides" at archaeological and heritage sites

#1 Feb 20th, 2011, 09:23
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  • stevec is offline
#1
OK, so you've done your research about this long-anticipated archaeological/ heritage treasure you've just arrived at. Suddenly, your autorickshaw is surrounded by "trained", "official" guides, waving various documents in a frenzy, all determined to "guide" you noisily, remorselessly, rapidly, expensively and unsatisfyingly round a magic place you were hoping just to hang out in, absorb, reflect, maybe photograph. How do you escape the scrum, in the right mood, without making a graceless spectacle of yourself?

No doubt many IndiaMikers have discovered this foolproof method, but I'd like to share it anyway.

All 'guide' throngs have an Alpha Guide - a bloke who is more equal than the rest. He's almost always not the one who's most in your face, but, with a bit of practice, he's easy to pick. My suggestion is: make straight for him. You'll know your aim was correct when everyone else sort of falls back a bit. Do you have a nice camera? Give him a chance to take a few shots with it. (He's pretty much an expert). Five minutes of chat is a great investment - he's got a family too, and will actually have some insights about the place you're visiting, so there's plenty to chat about. Once you've connected, explain that you've done lots of preparation and just want to wander. Could he please help? An offer of a hundred rupees will always clinch the deal. You'll hear some fairly crisp commands issued to the rest of the guys, and suddenly, a great peace descends. Room to roam appears.

I have found this effective for decades now, whether as a solo visitor, travelling with a partner, or with three small children. My goodness India is crammed with amazing heritage treasures - all worth it.
#2 Feb 20th, 2011, 09:55
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  • DaisyL is offline
#2
Thank you for sharing this.

This is good information to have - I'll try this on my next trip.
#3 Feb 20th, 2011, 10:24
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  • hfot2 is offline
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevec View Post ...Do you have a nice camera? Give him a chance to take a few shots with it...Could he please help? An offer of a hundred rupees will always clinch the deal...
The mind boggles at the thought you'd let anyone else touch your camera.

Quite apart from that, I'd suggest you can save yourself RS 100 per site if you learn a blasé "Thank you, no." If you say this repeatedly, without exasperation, and adopt a slight seigneurial wave of the hand, as if shooing away a fly, you'll find yourself left free and alone at least as quickly as if you had had to fumble out the rupees.
#4 Feb 20th, 2011, 11:11
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  • stevec is offline
#4
Some of the most meaningful video footage I ever 'collected' was when I gave a $4000 camera to a group of twenty pilgrims on the parapet at the Tiruchirupalli Rock Temple for fifteen minutes. Much excited, babble-filled passing from hand to hand while leaning over the edge, etc. My poor brother nearly had a heart attack, nothing was dropped, a billion smiles, and some amazing insights into what real pilgrims found to be the things worth videoing. I guess I just don't do the seigneur well, but my feeling is Rs100=2 bucks, a microfinacing investment!
#5 Feb 20th, 2011, 22:19
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#5
I will politely contain myself and not cite the adage "The Lord looks out for fools."

Nor will I mention that there are those IndiaMikers (and other travelers) who would complain that you are radically skewing the expectations of guides and other tourist-service workers throughout India.

I will, however, point out that, with 2 bucks here and two bucks there, pretty soon you can afford another trip to India – or at least another day.
#6 Mar 26th, 2011, 06:36
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  • jay1970 is offline
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevec View Post No doubt many IndiaMikers have discovered this foolproof method, but I'd like to share it anyway.
Totally bizarre idea. What if that "alpha-guide" is not interested in your camera? What if you pick wrong "alpha-guide"? What if there is no "alpha-guide"? What if "alpha-guide" is one of those in your-face types? What if you don't have to chit-chat with "alpha-guide"? What if camera doesn't have enough memory or roll for few shots by "alpha-guide"?

If you are paying 100 rupees for not hiring guide why not hire guide? I don't what guides charge? But in Fatehpur Sikri, I have had guide for 10 rs. I paid him 20 rs. in the end.
#7 Mar 26th, 2011, 08:08
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  • edwardseco is offline
#7
I have not wanted guides because they make it all up. You could do as well by reading the govt. pamphlets on a site. I have hired one to keep off the rest & the touts on condition of silence to me. An exception was one I hired from a nearby town because of his background. He was outstanding..

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