Touts and All That

#1 Dec 27th, 2001, 20:09
Heraclitus Future Member
In my reading (online and offline) about travelling in India I would often encounter complaints/admonitions/what-have-you about all the harrassment by touts in India. (It is indeed a recurring theme on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree India board.)

Well, after finally knocking about the place for a while I sincerely wonder what the fuss is all about. In comparison to many other so-called "Third World" destinations I have visited over the years, the touts I encountered in India were veritable pussycats! I can't think of more than one occasion where I had to say "chello," much less the rather harsher "jao." A simple "no" or "no thank you" spoken in Hindi usually did the trick. Yes, I would have to repeat insistently sometimes or even lay out a complete sentence "No, I don't want to buy anything" but usually folks would back off pretty quickly.

I dunno. Maybe it was just that I could speak some Hindi that threw them off their game. In any event, I would suggest that those contemplating their first trip to India not worry much about the touts. If you have any significant travel experience you are more than well enough prepared for what is basically a very minor annoyance.
#2 Dec 29th, 2001, 17:16
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Oct 2001
  • Sadhu is offline

Question How about some phrases?

I like your technique. While I am familiar with 'chello', 'bas' and 'jao', maybe you could give a few key phrases that work for you in Hindi. I am trying to learn some Hindi and Punjabi from books, but it helps to know first hand the actual idioms that are common useage, as opposed to sounding like an idiot who speaks like a phrase book!
'Walk the Earth, Have Adventures'
#3 Dec 29th, 2001, 20:22
Heraclitus Future Member

Hindi for Beginners

I have, at best, an extremely rudimentary command of Hindi so can't provide you with any neat idiomatic phrases to impress the locals. My point was that even the most limited attempts to speak Hindi will be richly rewarded.

The big problem is not so much learning phrases as getting the pronunciation and word order right. (Word order in Hindi is radically different from English.) I tried several teach-yourself books and book/tape combinations but didn't get very far.

Then, in desperation, I returned to one of my old reliables: the Pimsleur tapes-only language system. I have used these successfully in learning Italian, Spanish, and rudimentary Thai as well as for refreshing the German and French that I learned in school. Unfortunately, the Pimsleur tapes tend to be quite expensive but I recommend them without reservation.

Pimsleur only offers a very abbreviated 5-tape (10 lesson) crash course in Hindi. It won't give you a very big vocabulary (use the books for that) but you WILL be able to speak in complete sentences and with proper pronunciation. I took it as a complement that people would constantly ask who taught me my Hindi (most refused to believe that I could learn it on my own.)

Incidentally, I also tried the Rosetta Stone software Learn Hindi program (available as stand alone CD-ROM or via online subscription). This is fantastic if you have a LOT of time and want to learn Hindi in depth (including reading Hindi script.) However, it just won't get you where you need to go if your primary purpose is acquiring travel-oriented Hindi in a short time.
#4 Dec 30th, 2001, 09:43
archits Future Member

First of all congratulations on a very broadminded viewpoint and a very commendable approach to the alleged tout problem. I think you have hit the nail on the head.

I find the reference and the disproportionate space given to touts in LP as a major reason for the perpetuation of this simple "problem".

Another congratulations for giving out the name of the tapes that help out in Hindi . Perhaps these guys can bring out a ten tape course, that will help all. There is a Professor in Delhi trying to do the same and if it comes out I shall post it.

Happy travels !! Aapkey vichar accchey lagey !Naye varsh ki shubhkamanayain , aapko aur apke parivar ko !!
#5 Dec 31st, 2001, 02:37
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  • abraxus is offline
yes, a very good suggestion. i didn't learn any hindi before i went(i've never liked learning from books or tapes[my mum was a french taecher]) but it is incredibly easy to pick up a rudimentry travellers hindi as you go. indians will be only too happy to spend some time teaching you phrases, especially once they hear you trying to use it.
i can even sing a couple of street songs now, which usually kills them.
#6 Mar 16th, 2002, 05:05
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  • abraxus is offline

good phrase to use

when saying "no" just aint working- 'ap sum jay ha?'(corrections welcome)- i believe this means 'do you understand' & is slightly insulting.
#7 Mar 16th, 2002, 05:32
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  • indiamike is offline
When all else falls I use the "Turret's Syndrome" trick.

For all of you who don't know about this disease, one of it's symptoms is that someone speaks normally and then suddenly out of the blue screams out curse words.

Sort of like "No I am not interested in your f###in motherf##in god#### brother's shop".

I only use it as a last resort but it does get quite a reaction and nobody bothers me after that.

#8 Mar 21st, 2002, 21:37
Robmacriner Future Member

Cool Harrassment in India

Just got back from Mumbai,Bundi, Jaipur, Agra and Dehli. I've travelled extensively and never have seen anywhere the harrassment from touts so bad as in Jaipur, Dehli and Agra. I suspect because tourism was very low was one of the reasons for the extra harrassment, and because the population is so high in these areas. If you're going keep in mind most of what is said is BS, however in all fairness some are quite helpful, although you'll need to fine tune your negotiation skills. Remote areas like Bundi were refreshing because there was very little harrassment. The harrassment can be quite trying, however don't let this discourage you. If you're not used to this you'll need to be agressive and very firm. However don't get sucked into a confrontation this is just another form of harrasment. You'll soon figure out what works. There really is no need to be afraid, because other than the harrassment I don't believe there is any danger. I did see a few couples that looked overwhelmed and actually started running. The problem with this is that you show a weakness then you have just as many touts attempting to bail you out of your perceived crissis, this can be just as bad. It's unlikely if you're timid you are even interested in going to India, however if you are not aggressive this might not be the place for you. I personaly found India very exciting, and an interesting place to travel, but it is exhausting. So plan to your day with this in mind. There is nothing more refreshing that a quite clean restaurant or an internet location to take a break in. Enjoy, but expect the worst and hope for the best.
#9 Jul 21st, 2002, 02:08
meraas Future Member
Rob - Mike - etc etc - male postings. It's ok for you lot but when we ladies go about our travelling in India the hassle is unbelievable. Why should we be subjected to groping (which the Indians think is quite acceptable because we are ) a - white b - women c - easy - or so they think. I have just come back from India and I am very reluctant to go back there as I felt very threatened by these horrible men. I wore suitable clothing which covered my body - didn't go topless in Goa - but still they were dreadful.
I am by no means a prudish kind of person but very open minded but respect the country I was in but they did not repect me. Men in the UK, Oz and other Asian countries I have visited have not been like this. Indian men are the worst I have encountered on my travels of the world.
#10 Jul 21st, 2002, 03:55
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  • pooch is offline
Just wondering if meraas encountered all that in the north. I live in Bangalore and have travelled extensively in the south, men here are very courteous and polite, never had a problem with local men, of course men from the north/in the north I gather are something else.
#11 Jul 21st, 2002, 23:43
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  • Midnite Toker is offline

Angry less hassle, but still there

I'm not meraas, but I am a man, and only when I've travelled with women have I realised the hassles they put up with on a daily basis.
Even though Western women come in for special attention, Indian women also get groped. "Eve Teasing" is talked about in newspapers all the time.

As for the South's being better than the North, I would say yes, but then relatively. Once my friend was grabbed on the breast as we were crossing a road (side-by-side, I never knew what had happened until she told me) in Mysore, so casually, but so firmly it couldn't have been an accident. The guy had melted into the crowd on the other side of the road before we realised anything. Another time in Goa, a woman I was with was firmly molested on the backside by two Indian men on a moped as we walked to the beach. I was some distance ahead and saw nothing.

With recent moves to liberalise soft porn movie theatres in India (see here) - which will naturally feature compliant, Western women - I see this as a problem that will be with us for some lifetimes yet.
#12 Aug 15th, 2002, 17:19
kbarrett Future Member
Originally posted by meraas
(... )

I am by no means a prudish kind of person but very open minded but respect the country I was in but they did not repect me. Men in the UK, Oz and other Asian countries I have visited have not been like this. Indian men are the worst I have encountered on my travels of the world.
The problem is more endemic than just foreign women... eve baiting is a major problem... I watched some India military officials haul a national soccer team member off a Mumbai flight because he couldn't get it through his head that he wasn't allowed to verbally and physically harrass the flight attendants.

Just my opinion here;
I think many men in India tend to categorize women into three categories... Mothers, children, and whores.

There doesn't seem to be much middle ground available for women in their culture.

#13 Aug 20th, 2002, 01:27
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  • ate1 is offline

Touts and all that

My experience was similar. While the touts were more numerous in Jodhpur, Veranasi and Agra than anyplace else I've visited, they were also more polite and less persistent than other places I've visited, such as Vietnam.

I found this to be true of 'nightmare' stories of all types, from cleanliness (*love* the quote on another thread: 'just because it isn't clean doesn't mean it's dirty') to the number and persistance of beggars. Overall, I found India to be much more clean than, say, Myanmar, and its beggars much less persistant than those in South America. A polite, if persistant, no usually did the trick for everything.

One thing that was worse was the groping, which I did experience, and I know it would have been worse without my male traveling partner. I was amazed at how open it was, as bad as a bus or train in South America but worse on the open streets than anywhere else I've been. I don't think I'd love traveling solo.

I have a theory, though, on why there are soooo many nightmare stories about India. I think it's because it's often the first less developed country people ever go to, and nothing can prepare a first timer from Europe or North America. With lots of backpacking under my belt, I found my first trip absolutely amazing, and look forward to returning. But the density alone is mindblowing and I do think it would be a tough introduction to travel in less-developed countries.
- ate1
#14 Aug 20th, 2002, 19:00
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Apr 2002
  • theinsomniac is offline

Thumbs down

well, i think they really get it after a while of course...the thing is just that often they start off asking 'how are u?, where u from?', if u don't want to be impolite, there's no chance of getting rid of them immediately and anyway...i was fed up just being talked up all the time, even after i had found out how to maintain the upper was a very testing experience and definitely something good for my personality, but i really think rob's advice to expect the worst is the best thing...otherwise it might just be too much...
#15 Aug 28th, 2002, 13:36
kbarrett Future Member
Originally posted by theinsomniac
well, i think they really get it after a while of course...the thing is just that often they start off asking 'how are u?, where u from?', if u don't want to be impolite, there's no chance of getting rid of them immediately and anyway
( ... )

People are pretty much the same anywhere... unless you are in a social setting where chatting up a stranger is normal, you should treat a person who just gloms onto you and starts trying to monopolize your attention the same way you would some nut-case who tried this behaviour in your own home town.

Think "lottery winner". To the average person in the third world, you have won the lottery. Expect the desperate and dishonest to try to hound you.

The same crap happens to someone who wins a really big ( millions of $s ) lottery in industrialized countries.

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