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Published: November 17th 2010
So I decided while riding in the car today that there are some things in everyday life that are so different from the U.S.
Shopping is an experience like no other here. First off, every shop owner will try and lure you in with the line, just come in and look, if you don't like, you don't have to buy. Then the hard sell starts! If you are traveling with a driver and/or a guide, they are all being paid to bring you into certain shops. Once in, you get a first hand view of how carpets or jewelery or handicrafts are made. The sales person will spend sooo much time telling you about quality and workmanship to peek your interest. Then you sit, they bring out item after item of their wares while offering tea or soda "under no obligation". Once you choose what you'd like, the bargaining begins. For me, Ranjit and his mom went to town negotiating price but everything is negotiable here.
One thing to keep in mind, we were able to exchange money with some of the vendors we bought from at a better rate than the airports or hotels. Something that can work in your favor while shopping
At all of the sitew we vistited, price of a ticket for a foreigner was 4-5 even up to 20 times what a local would pay for entrance. It really helps to have a guide and/or a driver to keep you moving and also to keep you aware of your surroundings. Many of the guides will try and move you to the front of lines and push you through monuments but I found that this only pisses the locals off. Don't wear shorts if you are visting mosques either....its not cool and they'll just make you cover up. Tank tops and shorts were pretty much not cool everywhere we went. I stick with jeans and/or skirts to play it safe.
Straight men hold hands here. Its pretty sweet (check out Russell Peter's routine on it if you'd like a laugh). Often you'll see men arm in arm or hand in hand. The crazy thing to me is that men and women holding hands is frowned upon. I think the show of affection is really sweet, I just wish I felt comfortable joining in! We did go to dinner and on our way ran across lover's lane one night....apparently public displays of affection between men and women are ok under the cover of dark and in wooded spaces 😊
The streets are rough everywhere. You have to negotiate a sea of people begging, and walking and of course then there is the traffic. Walking across the streets is an art form. You must be quick and alert because there are bikes, motorcycles, rickshaws and cars to dodge. I was walking in Pune today with Ranjit and was grabbed by a woman begging, being the only white chick in town makes me a target but I wasn't expecting anyone would grab me by the clothes.
Thats all I can think of right now. There are many things a day that strike me, but these really stand out.
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