Friday, 17 January 2014

Pointers for Foreign Tourists

Hi! I am one of those Indians who have been embarrassed for too long by the recurring incidents of molestation of domestic and foreign women in Delhi. I'm not a professional writer but I'm too scandalized to be a mute spectator to these horrible recurrences, more so because I think I can help bring about a change.

What I must apologize for beforehand:

1. Patriarchal overtones and and apparent shallowness of my material. My focus isn't political correctness but merely sharing my humble opinion based on real personal experiences. I hope my bias would be overlooked in favor of my desire to be helpful.

2. My limited experience. I have resided in Delhi only for a couple of years. Nevertheless I think I have ample experience to speak on the matter at hand. The content is merely suggestive and not authoritative and must be interpreted as such.

3. Prejudice and presumptions. Much of my perspective may be inconsistent with ideals of equality and contain a hint of racism. I leave it up to the reader to arrive at a harmonious interpretation.

4. Poor grammar.

What possessed me to create this blog. While vacationing in parts of India, I've been painfully conscious that Indian men do not inspire a lot of trust in foreign tourists. Its all smiles and compliments on the surface but I've seen and experienced a subtle mistrust that runs deeper. Although its in no way misplaced or uncalled for, I'd like to try and put an end to this.

This post is concerned particularly with Delhi and the adjoining NCR, but relevant portions are applicable to other parts of India as well. Your discretion is solicited.

The bigger picture.

1. India has a lax law enforcement which may be due to the sheer size of the population. Although by my experience in New Delhi, the police is very sincere and dedicated but its actions, most understandably, are remedial and not preventive. All in all, the fear of sanction is mostly non existent, especially among the poor.

2. Among the poor, white person (and anyone else who looks different) isn't viewed with particular favor. Reasons are both cultural and historical. Foreigners pay twice (or more) than the amount that Indians pay for the same services. So, being well behaved makes perfect sense. Otherwise, not so much. So, if you're asking the man on the street for a free service of any kind, there is a great chance that you will be "taken for a ride".

Who to trust.

I've noticed that tourists prefer personalized transport like taxis and auto-rickshaws. I would advice strictly against this. This may sound counter-intuitive, but public transport is MUCH safer than personalized transport. Use the METRO rail running through all the important landmarks in Delhi. It has a dedicated compartment for ladies and reserved seats for ladies in each compartment. There is no safer way to travel around Delhi. Where the metro isn't available, used buses managed by State Governments. The operators of these buses (UNIFORMED) are generously paid, securely employed government servants who build their lives around their jobs, and are unlikely to risk losing their secured job at any cost.

If you lose your way, don't turn to random people on the street for assistance. Walk into a shop. The safest of all are JEWELERS because the people employed there are put through the strictest tests for loyalty and personal integrity by their employers. There are plenty of those in Delhi. Otherwise find a shop that provide similar valuable services.

If you can't find such a shop, look for a WOMAN or man with a Turban (Sikh) or anyone with pronounced Mongoloid features. It is nothing but foolhardy to turn to a seedy, underweight, undersized  man with shabby clothes. Molesting you may be a perceived high point of his sorry life.

I also notice that some foreign tourists ask inane questions like, "Do you believe in God?" to judge a person. I assure you that ostentation of  religiosity in India is no sign of decency. In most cases, the inverse is true. People wear their gods on their sleeves just to gain positive perception.

That's all for now. I shall update as and when I get new input. Stay safe.