When Lonely Planet issued dire warnings of touts in ConnaughtPlace, I cast it nary a glance. As a pukka Hindustani, I believed I was unlikely to be caused much grief by them.
But boy, was I ever wrong? Every travel agency claims to be the sole official representative of the Indian government, and has a couple of seedy looking characters trying to dupe you into their office. These people are easy enough to shake off (though one of them was alarmingly aggressive).
However, what I hadn't bargained for was that perfectly respectable lookign people could be part of this racket. I was standing on Connaught Circus trying my ludicrously poor map-reading skills out when two blokes came along unbidden and showed me the way to get to where I wanted to get to.
After thanking the two nice young men profusely, I carried along in the suggested direction. But, these two blokes decided to walk alongside me:
'To Bhaiyya, aap kidhar se hain?' (Brother, where are you from?)
'Hindustan', I replied brusquely, having caught on to their game.
'Hindustan to bada desh hain. Aap kaun se kone se hain? Humari tourist office hain na, isliye hum aapki madad kar sakte hain' (India is a big country. Which corner are you from? Y'see, we've got this tourist office, and can help you in Delhi.)
I decided to get rid of these people by seeing if the Indo-Pak peace process has had any effect.
'Theek hain, main sarhad ke us paar se hoon' (I'm from the other side of the border - common parlance for Pakistan).
'Oh aap Pakistani bhai hain. Jaaiye, bhaisaab' (Oh you're a Pakistani brother. Carry on, brother.'
While it's laudab;e that a Pakistani is allowed to walk aruond Delhi unmolested, it is rather depressing that it doesn't stop them from annoying their own countrymen.
Other Random Musings
1. I have never in my entire life head so much foul lanugage in such a short space of time. 'Behenchod' (Sisterf***er) seems to feature in every sentence, and serves the role of a noun, adjective, and verb from what I could perceive. And everybody - from the well-dressed young chap in the 3-piece suit to the gaggle of noisy 10-year olds on the bus - is in on it!
2. Either everybody else in Delhi suffers from some debilitating physiological disorder, or I've become a quasi-firang. Everybody around me seems to be dressed for a cold winter with scarves, caps, jumpers, and even fleece jackets. I, on the other hand, am sweating in my shirtsleeves.
3. A sucker is born everyday. I just saw a bunch of firang tourists profusely thanking an autodriver for taking them to the India Tourist Office (if you read the small print on the sign board, it's run by 'United Travels' and has nothing to do with the Government of India). Some people will never learn.
P.S.: Scribbled on 18/02 in a Cafe on Connaught Circus, Delhi, shamelessly sitting next to a coochie-cooing couple.
P.P.S: The female half of the aforementioned couple is cute.
Edit: I guess lots of you aren't aware of the fact that 'Paki' is one of the most racist swear words used in the UK. And yes, us Indians - in the eyes of the aforementioned racists - are 'Pakis' too. Because of that and the slightly pejorative tone taken in some of the comments towards Pakistanis that could offend my Pakistani readers, I have disabled comments for this post. I apologise if it seems rude, but I feel it would be best to do so.