South Indian Tourists

This guy thought we were fascinating, so I thought he was fascinating. I put the nesting dolls in nesting dolls.

I spent the week working on a piece about the tourist experience in Sikkim. Mostly I just pounced on while people I saw at MG Marg and demanded the Truth, in the name of Journalism. One thing I didn’t really get into is the hordes of non-western tourists that visit Sikkim, most from Southern India. I don’t know much about how local people feel about these guys, but I know how I often feel: sketched out.

For some reason, white people are just as much a local attraction to South Indian tourists as beautiful monasteries, monks and mountains. I went with some American friends a couple weeks ago to Rumtek Monastery, and these guys couldn’t keep their cameras off us. They put their arms around us and wave to their friends’ cameras. They are especially creepy towards white girls.

Granted, I probably take the occasional picture of these South Indian tourists, but I can’t tell which brown people are residents and which brown people are tourists. With a few strange exceptions (like me), if you see white people at Rumtek or in Gangtok, they are tourists.

I’m not sure what the deal is here. Why are we so fascinating? The same thing happened a couple years ago when I visited the Taj Mahal. Indian tourists kept coming up and asking for pictures with me, as if I were as significant at India’s most famous tourist attraction. I started charging 10 rupees a photo (about a quarter a piece), and made enough for an ice cream cone.

I must admit, these weird experiences with South Indian tourists here in the North turns me off to going to South India.

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2 responses to “South Indian Tourists

  1. You know, while I was in Darjeeling/Sikkim, I heard all that bad stuff about South Indians, and I assumed that was the Nepali outlook. Here in Kathmandu, I hear pretty regularly about how it’s North Indians who are liars/thieves/criminals (because they’re basically all Biharis, who are all liars/thieves/criminals) and South Indians raamro hunchha – they’re all educated and polite and cultured. Strange how stereotypes are different here.

  2. I had the same experience in Ghana with some tourists from Togo. They were French speaking and at first I thought that they wanted me to take there picture until I realized that they wanted to take my picture with them. They made sure that everyone’s camera and every combination of them with me possible, so in the end I passed them my camera and I got a couple of pictures of me with the tourists from Togo, and the beautiful waterfall in the background. What was also strange was that compared to them I was an old lady, but that didn’t seem to matter, I was white.

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