Spoon feed by Tourist Chamchas
This post is an entry to the The Great Indian Blogging Contest, as a part of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2015
“I am going for them… They look good…”
Saying this he leaves with a pretentious smile on his face towards the couple who had just got down from the train and coming out of the station. He heads straight towards them and with all the charm and guile he had mastered through all these years, he tries to woo the tourists. Oh my God! He is not alone. There are others like him who have now flocked the couple. They are all trying to please them with their praises and sweet talks. The two tourists just look bewildered. They have no idea what to do. The flock of people gathers around the two using all their flattery. Finally the two surrenders and the one who could flatter them most usually win. He takes the two away with him with a smirk on his face while the others now start looking for other prey.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present to you, the Great Indian ‘Tourist’ Chamcha. The always smiling person whom you see everywhere when you are on a vacation with your family. Without him, your vacation can never be complete. He is the ones who would take you to places which you have never visited before! The best hotel deals, the best car rentals, food, drink….. you name them and he will bring them at your reach. Madam wants to watch her favourite Saas Bahu serial in the vacation. Not to worry, he will provide you the TV with all your favourite channels. He is always ready to answer your questions, be your friend, philosopher and guide in an unknown territory. And what does he ask in return? Nothing much… just a little more from your pocket! Paying 50 rupees for the 20 rupees water bottle. That is not much considering the trouble he has to face and hard work they have to put for getting you the best of things.
Then you the Great Indian Guides at every nook and corner of any historical places you visit. He is the one wearing colorful shirts and a towel on his shoulder and mouthful of paan (betel leaf). “See Sir, this is the place where King XYZ farted…”, “This is the place where Queen ABC cried in sadness…” You will have the history as well as geography of the place at your fingertips, where physics and mathematics are also not left behind!! Your children will learn history which is not in any books, neither in the knowledge of any historians.
These people follow this saying by heart. Whenever they see foreign tourists appearing, you will definitely be delegated to the back stage. They will wriggle their way towards them. Who doesn’t wants to move towards greener pastures? Given a chance, you would do the same thing. May be a trainee will attend you now. The big bosses have set to dupe the bigger customers. Don’t they have to set the perfect arrangements for a rickshaw ride of 6000 rupees !!
And they hate travelers like me. One who just takes her backpack and sets out on a journey does not interest them much. I move around mostly on feet, take the cheapest transport available, look for cheap hotels and homestays and not fancy resorts. There are some other mad men like me who just don’t see but feel the places they travel. It’s a pity that we are of no use to them.
So the next time you have any trouble in your vacation, just look for him. He is omnipresent and omnipotent. He will fawn upon you, boost your ego with praises which you even know is not true. He will be the harbinger of your perfect vacation. Just beware of those foreigner tourist ! He might leave you wandering behind and move towards them. But why blame him? Don’t we all love to get clicked with a foreigner????
Being an avid traveller, I too have faced him – another species of the Great Indian Chamcha. He is present in all the famous tourist places with passes and tickets. With the slimy smile on his face, he is ready to wrap you in his tentacles of sweet talks. You must have also met them. Please share your experience with me.
By Amrita Sen