Travel in India and you will be struck by the sheer diversity of people that cross your path. And everyone is only too eager to make friends with you. Even so, there are 5 people that every musafir must try and befriend to ensure their travels are enhanced, local style.
Not everyone who travels in India hires a guide, but we would recommend it, especially while visiting a historical or cultural destination. Imagine how much your appreciation of Hampi would be enhanced by knowing the stories behind the ruins! Another benefit of having a trustworthy guide is that along with the local sights, they will also guide you to the best hotels, eateries, and rickshaw/taxi drivers.
The Autorickshaw Driver
Across India, the autorickshaw is people’s transport of choice. And it’s no different in tourist spots either. If you find and make friends with the right driver, they usually strike per day rates which prove out to be both cost-effective and convenient. And if you’re not too fussy about encyclopaedic knowledge, most drivers can also double up as basic guides.
Your Taxi Driver
Now while this may sound similar to befriending an autorickshaw driver, there is a small but significant difference. While autorickshaw drivers may be experts in their towns and villages, taxi drivers usually have a state-wide beat, which makes them well versed with a large region. A friendly driver can also play several roles – guide, interpreter, and protector. Ask them for places to see and to avoid. Also, ask them where they would stop to eat on the highways – you are almost always assured the tastiest, most authentic food around. And you’ll have someone to share the spread with.
The Guesthouse/Hotel/Homestay owner
These owners are usually locals who are well known and respected in their communities. So going by their recommendations may not only open doors to rare local experiences, but you will also get the safest recommendations for autorickshaw drivers etc. They will also give you real-time information about the locality and may also be able to give you great recommendations and tips about travel and accommodation for your onward destinations.
A fellow musafir
While a fellow traveller may not really classify as a local, befriending one is something that can really open up a destination for you. A good place to meet kindred spirits is usually at the local internet cafe or at the more popular bars or restaurants around. Strike up a conversation with someone who looks friendly and ask them for tips and recommendations. You will get the fairest reviews and the truest tips, most of which will usually be more current than any guidebook. A fringe benefit is you might end up making a friend.
Author : Manan Dhuldhoya