According to the programme, today was an "Off Day for Tours/Sight Seeing/Shopping". The organisers had arranged for a one-day bus tour for the participants to go out and see what Goa was like, but some, myself included, didn't get to join because we didn't sign up quickly enough and the tour was full. Five of us deserted souls refused to accept that as our fate and we decided to hire a car for a day trip. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, not only because a car was more flexible and efficient but not that much more expensive than the bus tour, but also because there was an Indian among us who, although not a local, had been to Goa before, and he took us to a lot of interesting places.
I always think that India is a land of great varieties. This could hardly be made more obvious by two Goan citizens I met today, one at an spice farm and the other at a Hindu temple.
The first person was a well-spoken and well-mannered young man who took us on a tour of the farm and introduced us to the characteristics and uses of the spices and herbs grown there with expert knowledge and a good sense of humour. He was also very fair in his dealing with us. He was just like the many knowledgeable and wise Indians I had met in the congress.
The other person was a Brahmin priest who was apparently in charge of a temple we visited. Instead of showing us around the temple, he took us to a quiet corner beside the temple and started telling our fortune without any solicitation from us. He was doing that as if he was giving us a favour. After babbling what sounded like a load of rubbish, he stretched out his hand. One of us handed him a few rupees, but I didn't. He hung around with us some more, and when we were about to leave, he asked the one in our group who he had found out to be from the US for some American coins as souvenirs! I could hardly believe that a Brahmin priest could be asking tourists for money just like that, and that he could be using such tricks that were so typically used by street touts. Where was the dignity? Wasn't this a blatant abuse of his privileged position?
India promotes its tourism with the slogan "Incredible!ndia". It definitely doesn't help the country's image if this is something that makes the country incredible.