No, I’m not talking about medical treatments here. I’m talking about the way foreign tourists or foreign nationals are treated in India. From what I have seen and read, its not very amusing. And yet, it continues!
I live in Jaipur now, and was strolling through the thoroughfares of the Walled City yesterday evening, where the city palace and Hawa Mahal are situated, when I saw something which nauseated the hell out of me! Had I or someone close to me been subjected to that kind of treatment, I would have beaten the heck out of the perpetrators!
Basically, it was this. A man and a woman, both foreigners, were walking down a pretty crowded road, when two boys, either in their late teens or early twenties, started ogling them and then filming them with their mobile camera. The woman put up her hand in front of her, to show her disapproval, but it just did not matter to the boys. They just kept filming!
My question now is that would these people go back with a positive impression of India, or with this negative impression! Our government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, euros and pounds to promote tourism, even millions, but with people like these on the streets, are these foreign tourists likely to take back a positive impression of this country?
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have a Google Alert that brings to me, among other things, all blogs and web entries made about Jaipur. Amongst these, I often find accounts of how these foreigners have been ’jumped upon’ by locals, either offering a ’cheap’ ride, or trying to sell something, or trying to beg. One account even told of a foreign national being ’groped’ by one of these people! I even wrote an article about these blogs! Read it here.
And from the local residents I have learnt about the lapkus. Apparently, every neighbourhood in the tourist areas of the city has this group of people who jump on tourists’ shoulders (figuratively) to get the latter to do what they (the locals) want. A lapku is one who jumps (lapak jaate hain). As soon as they spot a foreign tourist, they tend to jump on them, hawking their fare, looking for alms or whatever!
I have seen these tourists being dragged by their hands into a shop, unwillingness and horror etched on their faces! Such is the distrust that these foreign tourists develop from such actions that when you try to genuinely help them, they decline, thinking that you too will pile on something or the other on them!
With the advent of travel blogs, things can get and have gotten only worse for India! Almost every blog or post I read about Jaipur extols the virtues of the tourist attractions, and immediately expresses revulsions at the way foreigners are treated here!
Honestly, all this is new to me, so I cannot proffer a solution to this problem. Do you have any?