The small voice is yelling ‘bye’ to my back from 30 yards away. I’m not leaving, I have just arrived. A road side rest stop for tourists on the road between Ranthambhore and Agra in India. Desolate, dry, dusty. I never glance at the face attached to the voice, but I know it well by now.
Traveling the tourist routes in India have their positives and negatives and today I am feeling more of the negatives. I go to a break in the white brick wall surrounding the rest stop, like some kind of colonial compound, only to be mobbed by five more small voices. Blocking my photo opportunity of the field beyond.
I am polite. My name is Peter. I don’t have any pens. And it’s this insistence that has me feeling pessimistic. I want elbow room and it is hard to find in a country of 1.2 billion souls. Even in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. I want to be left alone but inside the rest stop doors I am stalked while wandering. My stalker is eager to show trinkets, shirts, non-pashmina pashminas. He doesn’t understand I want none of it. Or maybe he does, but still wants to feed his family.
Admitedly the near constant beg for attention, to buy something, to just look at something, ‘no obligation’, can wear visitors down. It gets to me at times and today is one of those times. No matter which way I turn there is someone calling out to me. Back outside I try the door to the van and it is locked, with the driver taking a break in some unseen corner of this patch of gravel and concrete. Damn it. Like human motion sensors, the voice start calling again.
This is the tourist trail, the Golden Triangle as some call it. It is heavy with tourists and rightly so as there are some gems to be found in the rough, dry regions of India.
Paradoxically, I am missing the crowds in Amritsar, a town we visited days ago. A town where people wanted to take our picture and not ask for anything more. A town with less tourists and the crowd that preys on them. I guess it’s hard to have such a spectacle like the Taj Mahal and not have the flocks of touts in the streets trying to run a hustle on unsuspecting tourists. It’s a price to pay.
There is another side to India I want you to know about. I will be showcasing photos here on The Carey Adventures upon my return from India. Photos of strangers giving and not asking. Photos of a slightly less traveled region well worth your time.
Stay tuned. For now, I need to continue on the tourist trails because the sights and experiences still wow me.
And annoy me.