Frustrations and Rants in India

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I feel like a good percentage of western travelers don’t care to see the raw parts of this country. India, in it’s in own very unique and personal way, has created a following of wannabe tourists that seem to pass by much of what makes this place genuine. In turn, it has made a genuine experience much more difficult for those who wish to experience it.

There is something wrong when the repeated scene of my daily movie is an abstract portrayal of a western tourist dressed in a turban and traditional couture. I am the first to say that India is a shockingly different place to travel– that a westerner ‘sticks out’ of any crowd– but this behavior is only making things worse. It is embarrassing and needs to stop. India would be a lot better if western tourists didn’t perpetuate the stereotypes that are already causing white noise in an otherwise unobstructed environment. India itself is still very real. It is the tourists that have become a mockery.

Thanks to the masses of people who take photographs in front of camels and purchase overpriced bangles made in China, people are convinced that we only travel for the ‘hype’ of India. There is a widespread belief that we wish not to see the real culture, but only the portion that is toned down for tourists. For example- I ask for directions to a market and am ushered to a spice store with pushy sales people and where every label is in English. We inquire on a local restaurant and are given directions to an establishment with tour buses outside. Everywhere there is an expectation of what we want based on our skin color- and in every situation the assumption is incorrect.

We have had countless conversations with people trying to convince them that we want to wander through a real grocery store, or to walk through a rural neighborhood without a tour guide. The translation never quite works out. Sure this has happened in other countries (Fiji comes to mind), but not to the extent that it has here. In essence, despite our repeated attempts, we have failed at getting that ‘day in a life’ glance that we have so enjoyed in our travels elsewhere.

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