By Ramesh Jangid, former tourleader in Rajasthan, India
Below is a letter from Ramesh Jangid, addressed to people going on our tour to Rajasthan in India. Ramesh lives in the small town of Nawalgarh in Rajasthan. His letter is a good one and it contains a message for you, for Läs och Res participants and for anybody considering a tour to India. All participants on his tours were given this letter as well as all tourleaders. He put demands on people on his tours. Something that is taboo in travel trade! Ramesh was a proud and strong-willed man. Accordingly he was not liked by everybody, but I did.
Vår värdinna bakar chappati
Det kom ett mail från Ramesh Jangid, vår reseledare i delstaten Rajasthan i västra Indien, och bosatt i den lilla staden Nawalgarh. Han bad mig vidarebefordra hans mail till de personer som snart skulle göra den resan, vilket jag med glädje gjorde. Alla reseledare fick läsa hans brev. Jag gillar hans sätt att ställa krav på deltagarna. Något som är tabu i resebranschen. Hans mail innehåller ett budskap, inte bara till de som skulle resa med honom, utan till alla som funderar på en resa i Indien, faktiskt till alla som reser i en främmande kultur! Ramesh var en stolt och viljestark man, alla gillade honom inte, men det gjorde jag.
Rather soon, I will be your tour leader in India. I am proud to get the opportunity to show you my country and introduce you to our culture. However, I would like you to prepare yourself in order to be able to follow some basic ”rules”.
First of all, I do hope you realise that you will not get the same comfort as you are used to at home. If you think that you will miss your friends and your home too much, I don’t think it’s right to go – you won’t feel well and you won’t gain very much during the trip.
From what you have learned through TV and newspapers, you have probably created a picture of my country and its people. I would like to recommend you to be as neutral as possible when you visit our country. Try to omit prejudices and discover our country yourself, with your own eyes!
Please remember that you are coming as our guest. Behave in my country as you would like foreign tourists to behave in your own country – ”do in Rome as the Romans do”. Our way of living has developed from centuries of experience according to our climate and culture. I don’t want you to dress exactly the same way as we do, but please cover your body to the same extent as our people do. We do appreciate it and we get hurt if you don’t. When staying with families, you are expected to accept the food they eat. If you are used to alcohol or drugs, you should give up these habits during the trip. If you cannot accommodate and misbehave, in the eyes of local people, you may have to leave the group and may also prevent future participants to travel this way.
Please try not to make comparisons with your own country. The service, the cleanliness, the standard of living, the time discipline, etc, will differ from what you are used to. Anyway, why travel to another country and another culture, if it would be just like at home?! We are so different in every respect. Sometimes our traditions are difficult to understand. But there are always sound reasons behind every tradition; I am there to help you understand.
Most people in our country are not as rich and self-sufficient as you are in terms of materialism, but they have a high sense of self-respect and dignity. I don’t think it’s fair that your financial situation should put you into a superior position. I hope you won’t look down on the locals or have a negative attitude towards them.
If you take a keen interest in our culture, I am sure it will help you to achieve a richer and happier life in your own country. If you adapt to what I have mentioned above, you will be more than welcome to travel in my country together with me. And I can assure you that your tour will be successful and beneficial! Just give me the pride of being your tour leader. I am looking forward to show you my beautiful and mysterious country.
Ramesh Jangid has finished working for Läs och Res to take up some private business. Still we should read his letter. His attitude to his role as a tour leader and what he expects from the participants, I hold in high regard. I wish you to share his attitude!