By Lisa on Feb 24, 2013 with Comments 2
Recently I was in India. I travelled alone from Spain to India, having to take a total of four flights each way.
However, when I arrived at my destination in Goa I was no longer alone. I was meeting up with eight other people; all Indians from Hyderabad.
Travelling with gentle Indians is a pleasure
When I landed in Goa after the short flight from Mumbai, the last leg of my journey, my Indian friends were waiting for me outside the airport (you can’t go inside an airport in India unless you have proof that you are taking a flight) and the moment I stepped foot outside, my hand was shaken by the whole group, strong arms took charge of my luggage and I was ushered into the taxi which I wasn’t even allowed to pay for.
Recently the Indian people, men especially, have had some very bad press, putting people, especially women, off travelling to India. Unfortunately this recent bad press, due to horrifically violent attacks on women by uneducated and despicable fools, has presented the rest of the world with a terrible image of that country’s people.
So in this Spotlight Sunday post I’d like to take the chance to balance the scales a little and show the real gentlemen of India some appreciation…
Step into my shoes… you are about to learn how it feels to be treated like a princess when you’re travelling with Indians.
My group of friends and I had arranged to meet in Goa. For most of the holiday there were six girls and three guys. All of them were from the city of Hyderabad except me, the English girl from Spain (yeah I stuck out like a sore thumb but at least I could drink them all under the table and could take my curry every bit as hot as they could).
The three guys made it their sole priority during the whole stay to look after the six girls – not an easy job with two apiece! I think they needed a holiday afterwards.
The other girls took it for granted that they would not be expected to go off on their own, deal with money, speak with taxi drivers or waiters or have to barter for anything. But I, who had always done all these things for myself without even thinking about it, found it a bit hard to adjust.
“My boyfriend will look after your money if you want” – huh?!
In the taxi in which three of them had travelled an hour in to pick me up from the airport, I mentioned that I would need to change some cash as I only had euros and sterling and Sushi, who I was to share a room with, said to me: “when you have rupees Param will look after them for you!”
When I made it clear that I was perfectly able to keep and control my own cash the girls were shocked: “You mean you will pay for things yourself?” I think they were somewhere between disgust at my crassness and awe at my independence. I don’t think the girls ever managed to get over the fact that I’d actually travelled all the way to India alone. Paramveer just rolled his eyes. Out of all the group, he was the one who knew me best and he already knew I was a crazy westerner who would never relinquish control of my money or my independence.
Later that night when I met all the girls in our room for a glass of the champagne that I’d taken for ‘girls night’ (they don’t generally drink so one bottle was enough for the six of us and I think I drank more than half of it myself!) the first thing I was asked was who I had entrusted my money to. They assumed it would be Param as he was my closest friend of the group. When Sushi whispered that I would look after it myself there was hush throughout the room.
Treated like a princess
In Goa, I did not have to do a thing. Long-term, this lifestyle would become suffocating but for a fortnight, I adjusted to it so well that I was sad to have to lift my own bags at the end of the holiday when I’d said goodbye to them all.
If I did any shopping, there was one of the guys waiting next to me to take my bags and carry them for the rest of the day. If we were on the beach and I needed to use the bathroom, I would be escorted without protest.
If we needed to take a taxi, one of the guys would go negotiate a deal with a few drivers while the other two guys waited at a safe distance with the six girls. When it came to the time to pay said taxi, I would not be allowed to get any money out in the taxi and one of the guys would cover my part of the fare until it was just us and I could pay him back. Even then, he would be reluctant and uncomfortable to take my money.
It wasn’t just that, it was also real old-school gentility which is rarely known nowadays: I don’t think I opened a door for myself once, the taxi doors were opened as soon as the taxi stopped. And if they weren’t the girls would wait inside until they were!
If we were having beers and I was ready for another Kingfisher (much to the amusement of the Coca Cola drinking girls) I would not be allowed to simply get up, go to the bar and get a round in; one of the guys would go.
When we were on the beach if one of the girls felt like going for a swim, instantly one of the guys was up and ready to go in the water or stand nearby. Once we were on the beach and everyone was having a little snooze. The beach was busy and it was nowhere near nightfall. I was hot and I wanted to go for a walk to take photos. The moment I moved, Paramveer was on his feet.
“I’m just going for a stroll along the beach,” I told him.
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll just put my t-shirt on. You two [to the other guys] make sure you take care of my sister and my girlfriend.”
“No, no,” I said. “You’re sleeping. I’ll be fine. I’m only going to be half an hour.”
He wouldn’t hear of it. He was coming with me on my photo-walk and that was that. It was the same every time we girls wanted anything. The guys would be ready to go, no complaining. My wish was, quite literally, his command.
“Your safety is my number one priority” – famous words of Paramveer Singh, words which I heard every single day in Goa.
There’s a saying in India, which loosely translated into English goes: “If you are in trouble find a Sikh; he will always help you.”
Not all the guys we were with were Sikhs but I can pretty much vouch for that saying. I have never felt safer or more taken care of than when I was in Goa.
So, if you are invited to India to spend time with friends, trust me, you will be so well looked after you will feel like royalty.
To know more about my travels in Asia, click here.
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....