Photo impressions from the group trip: Part 4/5 (Mcleod Ganj continued)

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Apparently there is an increasing effort to deal more responsibly with trash and the environment in the area.

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Nevertheless, there is a lot of trash in the area. Opinions from travelers I have spoken with vary as to whether the amount of pollution has increased or decreased in recent years; it seems it depends on when they were last here.

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People in the area seem to have taken precautions against potential laundry thieves. 🙂

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Vendors in the morning

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The valley below Mcleod Ganj

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Thumbs Up Cola – tastes a bit like Moxie apparently. Taste the thunder!

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This is Deepak number two. I’m pretty sure I was hustled by the guy.

He told me this story about how he repaired shoes and could sew clothes and that he really needed work but he didn’t want to be paid in money – he just needed food. HIs dad was a drunk and so was his boss and they would just take any money from him and he was the only one looking after his two little sisters and they and he were just hungry. I knew my friend had a hole in her skirt that needed mending so I I brought it to him to do, and even got someone else in the group to give him some work. I told him let’s go shopping, expecting to by a few hundred Rupees worth of food and to make his day.

He walked me straight to a local shop and without blinking an eye started pulling massive bags of rice and flour and containers of oil and ghee off the shelves, speaking to the shop owner in a local dialect the whole time. I started to get a funny feeling but felt too polite and unsure to say anything. Finally the shop keeper told me the total – nearly R4,000 – way more than I had spent on anything during the whole trip and this was for basic food staples, and a heck of a lot more than I had intended to spend on food to pay for a skirt being mended! At this point I was pretty sure I was being scammed but still, the instinctive need to be polite persisted – I told them I only had a certain amount on me – still way too much money to spend on a skirt but a good deal less than R4,000, and that was all I could pay for.

Deepak put one bag of rice back on the shelf and said the money would be enough to pay for the rest, but that it was too much to carry so he would come back for the food later on. Now I knew for sure this was a scam. But even then, part of me really wanted to believe Deepak, and that “be nice” instinct was still overpowering, so I paid the money and left to meet my friends at dinner, to digest what just happened and what my deal is that I would rather be polite than defend myself and say to someone, “Hey, are you taking the piss or what?”

Needless to say, the small incident created plenty of food for thought. I’m grateful that it was such a benign situation – I am sure people have been fooled out of bigger amounts of money in less pleasant ways while traveling. One friend’s way of dealing really appeals to me. If he gets a weird feeling about something like that, he’ll say “I’m outta here”, and just high tail it out of the situation. I love this idea, and am going to try to adopt it! I have enough presence of mind to know that something doesn’t feel right, but not enough to figure out how to extract myself while saving face for the people who are scamming me. I think and hope it’s enough awareness though to be able to override the polite-instinct by pushing the “I’m outta here” button and just leaving. A good lesson if I can learn it! 🙂

Incidentally, he did a crap job fixing my friend’s skirt. I ran into him now during my second visit to Mcleod Ganj. As grateful as I was for the opportunity for introspection, it did still feel a bit unresolved and I thought I might get some closure talking to him again. I told him how disappointed my friend was with the work he did, trying to get the message across that I didn’t believe he was really a tailor. He seemed to be listening to the constructive criticism; in the next breath he said with a big grin, “So if you have work, you give to me!” 🙂 Not quite the vindicated closure I’d had in mind – but it’ll do. 😉

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Mcleod Ganj at night. This photo doesn’t do it justice though – many more stars in real life!

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Eight-legged visitor perched conveniently above Heather’s open suit case! Blarg! It looks small in this picture but that is due to the flash distorting the perspective. Do not be fooled, this spider was seriously large and nothing to mess with! Cousin to the other big, eight-legged friend that visited Roman and me in Apex hotel during my second visit to Mcleod Ganj.

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Sunset

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4 thoughts on “Photo impressions from the group trip: Part 4/5 (Mcleod Ganj continued)

  1. That scam is well-known. They are in cahoots with the shop owner, and the shop owner buys them back at a cut. If you paid 4,000 rupees, the shop keeper would get 50% and not part with any goods, and the scammer gets the other 50%. You should have called the local police, they will act. You’re right, they are not tailors or cobblers, just scammers. A good warning to others if they read this.
    Sorry you had the experience, but it’s not personal, they are just getting by doing what they have to do in order to continue to get by.

    • Thanks Tuppy. Hopefully some other traveler will benefit from my mistake. 🙂 Was definitely a good lesson for me anyhow – hopefully I’ll be quicker on the uptake if there is ever a next time! 🙂

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