Get down at New Delhi railway station, they will flock you and they are an aggressive lot. As soon as a 2X2 bus reaches the private bus stand in Manali they start running and pasting small piece of papers on the windows to claim the occupants as their own. You go elsewhere in India and you meet them. I am talking about touts, and if you come to India, you cannot escape them.
How do tourists react to them? I found a goldmine of information about this on India Mike. From many of the responses, I can also see, the tout issue touches a raw nerve.
Some of the practical responses on the question ‘How to Deal with Touts.’
Be polite and smile, but once only.
Don’t shake hands or tell them your name or where you’re from.
In built up areas, if it gets bad, threatening to call the police works well.
Stop walking and remain silent … If you are catching a taxi in Mumbai etc, after getting the right price, get them to put it in writing (keep a small book for this or a voice recorder). This works a treat and though you may have to put up with some whining, there is no sudden increase in the price at the end of your journey. It works for railway porters, rickshaw drivers too.
Only put up with what a local would. In a very touristy area like Varenassi, have some touts adopt you and the others will stay away. Have fun. Don’t lose your temper.
talskeddy at India Mike
It’s hard to have a catch-all rule for touts… so often you want to avoid them, but sometimes (when you’re in a remote part of the country, for example) you might want to use them.
Never had I experienced anything like the touts in Delhi on my first trip to India. Oh, I was so green and they saw it right away. I could write a story just on my experiences trying to find the New Delhi Train Station reservation office for foreigners without having a map or otherwise any idea of where it was. I got sucked in by almost a dozen touts that afternoon alone. At least I can laugh about it now.
picklepak at India Mike
Wear a BIG earphone and walk ‘through’ people – they will think that you are listening to music – so it will discourage people from trying to make a conversation with you.
mountaingirl at India Mike
Headphones might work but some of the touts are a bit more persistent and start touching you. That really ticks me off.
I am a lot taller and bigger than the average Indian male. I look mean to them and they leave me alone in no time. I hear the Eunuchs (Chakkas) can be quite a problem to Indians. Is this true?
oldhippie at India Mike
Here are some reactions that surprised me:
Persistent and irritating touts deserve to be manhandled, not handled !!
Just joking, of course !! The best way is to ignore them. If they are shameless enough to pursue you, then join your hands and say “Maaf karo”, which is the term usually used to shoo away a beggar.
The tout will be made to feel like a beggar and if that dosen’t make him slink away, then he is really thick skinned and deserves a place among the rhinos of Assam !!
SHIMLA at India Mike
Taxi and auto rickshaws: My wife made the observation that if you say “No thank you sir”, then 99 times out of 100, they would leave us alone. Don’t know why this works. Just make sure to include the “sir” part. “No thank you” is not good enough.
04274108 at India Mike
I usually try to look pissed off and mumble things to myself and occasionally swing randomly into the air… that seems to scare the touts away
nomadelmundo at India Mike
Pretend to try and sell them something, they soon get pissed off
goangoangone at India Mike
I agree. That also works very well. Can’t say that I’ve seen people get pissed off but many of them will turn and walk away. Don’t let them go. Follow them and bargain with them until they start to run.
Also had a great time in Delhi. With this technique One rickshaw driver wanted to take us for a ride to the Jama Masjid. I told him that I would take him there for 500Rs. We haggled for a bit and I got it down to where I would take him for free. Well needless to say, I had a blast driving him around for a few blocks. I had to stop well before the mosque though because my nerves couldn’t cut the traffic. Some coppers gave us some really long unapproving glances too.
So, can you see the creativity? And I have just scanned four pages of the responses available. There are many more such gems in the discussion thread and run up to 10 pages. Explore it and you will be rewarded.
H and I have shown the whole gamut of emotions in dealing with touts. We have ignored them, we have got irritated, we have felt intimidated, we have felt cheated and angry and what not. That too, when we are Indians. I wonder how it would feel to land in a foreign country and have the Paharganj/New Delhi Railway Station experience. As our traveling experience has accumulated, I feel they trouble us less. Maybe they can guess we are not so green anymore?
But two incidents stand out in mind. When we went to Bharmour in December 2005 it was the off season and there was not one tout around as we got down from the bus. We had not pre-booked anything and this lack of touts left us completely bewildered. We did not know who to ask the directions for! We took a path (there were just two roads going into the town) and reached the Chaursai Temple Complex and the local folks guided us to a hotel.
Then again, we traveled to Bharatpur in the last week of January 2006 and we arrived there at 11 in the night. There were no touts around and this was the season. One tempo guy took us around and all the guesthouse owners were sound asleep! The tempo guy did ask for a price that may have been little more than the normal fare but he did not dump us at the first guesthouse and
run away. He made sure that we got a room and only then went off. We tipped him extra for his moral support. These are my two most surprising incidents where we experienced a lack of touts.
9 thoughts on “Touts Touts Everywhere?”
While reading this post, I was helpless with laughter and Vasu was looking at me with an odd expression on her face. 🙂
This post was great fun. 🙂
I’ve never heard of touts before. It sounds like they must be people who offer their services as guides, but then try to cheat you out of money. From my perspective, it seems impossibly difficult and scary to navigate through India. I couldn’t ever imagine doing in on my own! I did enjoy reading some of the strategies, though. I thought the beggar comment was good because maybe it would shame the touts into going away!
Fun post Mridula. Reminded me of the time when I was interning in Delhi and would travel back and forth between Ambala over the weekend by train. Every Monday, I would be surrounded by touts offering taxi service. They would start off with quoting Rs.150 for the ride from the station to Delhi IIT and by the time I came out of the railway station and proceeded towards the pre-paid taxi stand they would have come down to Rs. 50.
Quite strange, but I left a comment here yesterday and now it’s not showing. I think Blogger must have had some server problems or something. You’re right that touts are everywhere, and it can be very difficult to shake them but the tips you posted are a good place to start!
Alka, you and your famous laugh! No wonder the little girl had puzzled expressions on her face!Thanks, Anirudh.Mo, you may get used to them if you ever venture to this part of the globe!Pooja, yes, typical New Delhi railway station experience.Crystal, your comment never showed the first time. Thank you so much for taking the trouble for writing it the second time around.
Hi Mridula.. Interesting observation I must say. I happened to spend some two hours at the border checkpost on the outskirts of Manali last year while waiting for my frndz to catch up.. That place is a hangout for touts as all vehicles stop there.. I talked at length with them.. and concluded that they aren’t as bad as they are made out to be.. Pretty helpful in giving me information..(may be bcoz I was riding a bike..).. and how they are told to hawek the packages by top resorts in the region and how you will actually end up paying more when you just drop in.. and how u pay a huge premium when u book in advance… But yes I am equally pissed off when all you do in walk alone in silence and are constantly bugged by them.. in a touristy place.. OMG its become almost a post in itself.. I am stoppin now..
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Sumit, thanks for sharing the interesting expeience. H is quite OK in dealing with touts but not me 🙂 Probably they expect to deal with H too. Good for me leavesme out of the hassel.Sunder,thanks a lot for stopping by. Do give the address of your website, if you have one.