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Touts

Given my experience on my first full day in this alien place, it’s not surprising that I’ve quickly developed a strong hatred of these men who come up to you in Pahar Ganj and Connaught Place and try to sell you things or direct you to other people who will sell you things. In a rather typical fashion, I think, I’ve gone from the one extreme of being somewhat open to random strangers – well, one random stranger – to ignoring them completely.

The only other place I’ve had a similar experience is, strangely enough, London – specifically Camden. Specifically specifically, a) Camden market, where the food vendors call to you as you walk past and b) the main road going north past the market, where skinny black men try to solicit your custom in illicit substances.

Common approaches here are:

Excuse me, sir.

Reasonably polite, but not worth taking any notice of.

Hey, man. I like your style.

When they see you’re a young man with long hair. (Well, when they see I’m a young man with long hair. Chances are you’re not one.)

What are you looking for?

Nothing that has any connection with you.

I went out in my hat for the first time a couple of days ago. As it was the first time, I was feeling a little awkward. This wasn’t helped by guys making ‘cowboy’ comments. One individual on Pahar Ganj Main Bazaar said, ‘Hey, cowboy, where’s your horse?’

Today, I went and bought a train ticket to Agra (executive class; it cost nine pounds). One man stopped me physically as I was going into New Delhi Station and told me I should go across the road to the ‘ticket office’. I was trying to ignore him, but with him grabbing my arm and talking to me, and me not familiar with the station, it was difficult. He asked me if I understood; I said, ‘No,’ and finally walked past him.

I really need to get away from the main tourist areas up here in the ‘Golden Triangle’.

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