Monday, 24 September 2007

Walking Targets

Well, turns out the India-Pakistan Twenty20 cricket final is actually on today, in just over one hour in fact - we'll actually be out sightseeing but we should be able to catch the end of it. Also, turns out that the internet at our Udaipur hotel wasn't free because they tried to charge us 100Rs for it when we were leaving, which is only about NZ$3 but it was pretty poor of them not to tell us it wasn't free when we asked if we could use it, plus there wasn't even any sign at the computer, so... I managed to talk my way out of paying for that one. It's kind of the principle of the thing.
I was thinking I should change the title of this blog since being chaffeured around from hotel to hotel isn't exactly 'backpacking', but I'm still quite happy we went with the tour since it's cushioned the culture shock quite a bit, and Rakesh has been really helpful in telling us what brands of bottled water are alright, and where it's okay to eat 'non-veg' food.
Apparently Pushkar (where we are at the moment) is completely reliant on tourism for its economy, and therefore there's also heaps more people who are out to get you or rip you off. Rakesh told us that once he was driving an old German couple, who got accosted by a Brahmin (priest) at a temple, he followed them all around the place talking to them about the temple, and then demanded US$5000 from them! Of course the couple was outraged and tried to offer a little bit, but the guy persisted (he also had some friends at this stage), eventually the couple threatened to call the police and the priests left, but yeah... The moral of the story is - don't talk to anyone in Pushkar! Well, not quite, but basically don't let any random dodgy person offer you anything because they are inevitably going to demand money at the end.
Actually, ever since I arrived here it seems like all my manners have gone out the window, because you wouldn't really survive as a tourist otherwise. All the beggar women with babies on their hip, the little begger kids, people trying to sell you crap, people trying to get you to take their photo, people offering to give you a tour, you have to just pretend they don't exist because if you give money to one, you'll just get mobbed. Once when we were stopped on the side of the road some opportunistic kids ran over and started asking us for money and/or chocolate, they just looked like normal kids, not beggars or anything, but obviously they've had some success with tourists before... It's a bit disconcerting really, and tourism would be much more attractive here if this sort of thing wasn't tolerated, but I don't see it stopping anytime soon as long as there's still such extreme poverty around.

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