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Smuggling diamonds? no thank you very much...

Mumbai to Goa...

From Mumbai we took the first bus we could get down to Goa and endured one horrible freezing cold bumpy bus journey before we finally got to paradise. (Why they always keep the air con on full blast all night I don't know?) And paradise it was.... beautiful Baga beach...along with our bus companions who had all been swooped up by taxi drivers and brought to the same place. Nice.

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A few days later we were walking along the Beach looking for a nice beach side restaurant and a good spot to sit and watch the sunset (as would become our daily routine) and we were stopped by an old Indian man with perfect educated english. He seemed to be the first local we had met who genuinely just wanted a chat so we accepted his invitation of dinner at his house and were soon sitting on the floor of his bare beach bungalow eating gorgeous curry with our hands (made by the resident chef from Nepal) and exchanging stories about philosophy and the world. Soon, Baba (the old man) said that he wanted to show us something special and we were shown into a seperate white room with a bare light bulb and single mattress on the floor. We sat and he left us alone with one of his younger nephews who took out a jewellary box and began showing us rubies and diamonds and explaining all about their powers to balance your body's shakra and energies. We listened....very suspiciously, the darkened room and clever sales pitch was getting a little strange. Eventually he got round to asking the million dollar question - or rather the 5 thousand pound question - would we smuggle diamonds back to the UK on our tourist visas, return them to the company in London and then fly back to India to resume travelling, 5,000 pounds richer??!! ehhhh nice idea, good money, but no thank you very much....really don't wana get caught and end up in an Indian jail!

Thankfully they didn't push it and didn't pull out any guns or anything to persuade us (my imagination was going a little wild) so we thanked them for dinner and went on our way with the knowledge that if we wanted anything, and they meant anything, we could call them. It was quite sad really. To be invited to someone's house for dinner is a great thing and a wonderful experience, especially when your in another culture (and the food was delicious!!) but we wondered if we would have been invited if they hadn't wanted anything from us? We found later that is indeed rare to find someone who gives hospitality, guidance and help for free in India - mostly everyone else thinks your a walking ATM/diamond smuggling machine....It does back a good story for back home...

... but if all tourists return home from India saying 'oh it's great but everyone wants your money and tries to rip you off all the time' then that'll surely put off other tourists won't it? And for all the thousands who live off the tourist industry ideally they need good word of mouth to benefit both them, and the larger number of tourists who would then come to visit. How do you break the cycle so this could happen?

Posted by emils 22:22 Archived in India

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