when touts attack

As we disembarked at Indira Gandhi International Airport, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. India had always been our nominal “destination” and despite our fairly decent bank of travelling experience acquired over the past year, we were still prepared for India to crush us mercilessly. Much to my relief, our arrival went seamlessly – the transfer was there waiting for us; the room we had booked was passably clean, and we enjoyed our first Indian meal, plentiful and delicious, in rooftop environs not dissimilar to the party area at the House With the Red Door. The knot in my stomach eased and I went to sleep wondering why I was so nervous in the first place.

As an aside, the decision to fly to Delhi from Kathmandu was one of the best we’ve ever made. And when the alternative was a 50 hour+ journey by bus and train, it was a fairly easy one too. We got beer and curry on the plane; Delhi airport still holds the record for Cleanest Dunnies in India; and it was novel not to arrive in a new city completely shattered. Oh, and we got to buy duty free gin. Air travel, where have you been all my life?

The next morning, we ventured out and delighted in such wonderfully Indian visions as motorcyclists patting disinterested cows on the head while weaving their way through traffic jams. I even managed to put a positive spin on Linds being pooed on by a bird within about two minutes of leaving the hotel, declaring it an auspicious sign for our time in India. Linds, however, did not agree.

As it turns out, he was right. Rather than auspicious, you could say our feathered friend was a touch clairvoyant, as we were both struck down with the runs within four days of our arrival in the country. Needless to say, the honeymoon period was declared over as we both found ourselves rushing to the toilet at various inconvenient times. Not that there’s ever a convenient time to poo your pants. So even after nearly a year of eating food of questionable hygiene, we were still no gastrointestinal match for Mother India.

Another thing we’ve encountered a lot of in our almost-year of travelling is the tout, in all its forms. Male and female; ambulatory and vehicular; subtle and not-so. Never before seen though, until now, is the vitriolic tout who, when ignored, immediately responds with such venom as:

  • “If you don’t want to talk to Indians, you are RACIST!”
  • “Go back to your own country – in fact, I’ll give you a free ride to the airport!” (that sounds like a tout-within-a-tout to me…)
  • “I thought you looked like a nice couple… but clearly I was WRONG!”

Of course, just another wiley way to get you to engage with them at any cost. FAIL. However, pride comes before a fall and we promptly found ourselves being ripped off, albeit only to the tune of about $13, on arrival in Bombay after falling prey to the ol’ double-time taxi meter trick. Luckily for the thieving driver, I had to race into the hotel to use the toilet, so we let it slide.

Author’s note: Given the content of this post, I trust you will understand why there aren’t many accompanying pictures.


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