I have learn a few valuable lessons from my Mysore trip. I would like to share with anyone who may visit India. One a side note, I highly discourage anyone to visit India. There are much better places on Earth to travel than India.
The First Lesson: Stay away from the tourist guides approach you at any tourist attraction. Those tourist guides are hawkers in disgust, even they have whatever permission from the government. We learn it the hard way. In the first Hindu temple, we naively follow a tourist guide to see the temple without negotiate his fee first. We were charged a ridiculous fee of Rs600 per person at the end of a 30 minutes tour.
In the second Hindu temple, we learned from our experience, we negotiate the tourist guide fee Rs200 for two people. After the tour, he still want to ask for more. He said he brought us to see two temples, which is really two building of the same temple, so the fee should be Rs400 in total. Unfortunately, visiting Hindu temple require taking off your shoes. With our shoes as hostages, we agree to pay him Rs100 more at the end. In the Mysore Palace, we just say screw the tourist guides. I won’t remember whatever the tourist guide told us anyways. If I really curious about something, I can find the information in internet later. We just make up stories and tell each other when we see interesting things in the Palace. It is more fun and it’s free!
The Second Lesson: Stay away from Hindu temples. Taking pictures from outside is fine, but don’t bother going in. First, no photography is allowed inside the temple. Without the pictures you won’t remember what you saw. Second, they try to bless you by putting stinky stuff on your forehead. Luckily I avoided the blessing, but it took Mark quite some time to wash off the stinky stuff. Never mind they also ask for donation from giving you the blessing. Finally, they make you take off your shoes. Ok, if you ask people to take off their shoes, please keep the floor clean. If you can’t keep it clean, at least please keep it dry. The bottom of my socks become sticky brownish yellow after the temple visit. It’s kinda gross.
Take shoes off in some places, like Taj Mahal, actually make sense. No shoes allows for the sake of keeping the place clean or from damaging the floor are reasonable requests. Come on, the Hindu temple is no where near historical and it has a concrete floor! The idea of taking off shoes equals to respecting the God is simply stupid! If the shoe is dirty, the temple floor is even dirtier, the temple keeper must really disrespecting their Gods. On a second thought, why don’t they make people take off their pants to symbolize the respect to Gods? Then I search the Wiki and found out in fact some Hindu template actually ask you to take off your pants for entering the temple. Some one got to fix these stupid rules in Hindu temple, or people will start thinking Hinduism is a stupid religion.
On my way out, I talked to Mark that if one day I start my religion and build my temple, I will make much better rule than the stupid Hindus no shoes rule to symbolize the respect of God. In my temple, no watches or any time keeping devices is allowed. My argument has two folds. On the theory front, measuring time is disrespecting the God of eternity, who transcend above time. On the practical front, isn’t it nice to forget about time and the trouble of life inside a quiet temple where you can pray to God or meditate? Somehow Mark agree that the no watches rule is a good idea! Maybe I really should invent a new religion just like the Scientology guy.
The Third Lesson: The best way to deal with hawkers is ignoring them. Hawkers is every where in India and they are very annoying. They try to sell you junks at ridiculous price outside of any tourist attractions. We were swamped a hawkers after hawkers, and there are so many hawkers standing in front of us that they block our view to find our car. Refuse them politely is a waste of breath, since most of them couldn’t understand more sophisticate English sentence. You can say NO to the hawkers, but they keep following you until you almost yell at them. The best way is simply ignore them. No eye contact, not even saying a word, just pretend they don’t exist. That is the fastest way to stop them from bugging you.
Sometimes, the hawkers will ask you where are you from, trying to establish a conversation and then sell your their junks. If you want them to get lost, don’t answer. On the other hand, I find it kinda entertaining asking the hawker to guess where am I from. He just couldn’t guess it right even we gave him lots of hints. Canada must be a not very well known country in India. At the end, we buy some crappy postcards from him for Rs30 after he entertained us for almost 5 minutes. Well, the hawker is a kid, so we won’t feel bad making fun of him and teach him some geography at the same time. If the hawker is an adult, screw you, get out of my way.