My Worst Experience as A Tour Guide

by SumitVashisht /
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Mar 15, 2010 / 0 comments

It was a lovely morning when I reached Hotel Clarke’s, located at the eastern end of the Mall in Shimla. A group of twenty five British Tourists with their British Group Leader Ms. Roberta as the twenty sixth member and an Indian Tour Leader (ITL), as the twenty seventh member of the group, was staying there. I was supposed to take them for a half day sightseeing tour in Shimla. The group was traveling through a very big Tour Company.


Our first destination was the beautiful building of Viceregal Lodge that now houses the Institute of Advanced Study. This building is a marveousl example of Baronial Scottish Architecture in India. We reached there by seven cars. As we got off the cars at the grand gates of that imposing building I told the ITL to go and purchase entry tickets. A guided tours is conducted inside the building after every half an hour. As he proceed towards the ticket counter I took on to explain the history of that building and also a brief history of Shimla. All the tourists surrounded me as I started delivering the information. Many of them had their past association not only with India but also with Shimla. One lady’s Grand Uncle was an Army Officer lived here during the war.


The information became interesting for them and many of them started asking various questions related to partition, British rule, Raj era and the present situation of the town and the country. Their questions, based on the information I had delivered, lead to a grand discussion due to which we had to miss a chance to enter the building and delayed it till the next turn.


After the discussion the group dispersed and went around with their cameras. I had told them to assemble near the gates after 10 minutes. When they had gone the ITL came to me and said, ‘Aye, Sumit, why do you say so many things. Do not give so much information. Just tell a little and that’s all.’


I said, ‘Why? They want to know more and more so it is my duty to give the information’


‘Oh come on. Why are you worried about the information. Let’s finish of the tour quickly and take them for shopping.’ He meant to make some commission from the shops. I kept silent on this.


Anyway, the trip inside the building went very well and when they came out I saw them making discussions on the Raj and the partition between India and Pakistan. I wanted to take them to the Army Heritage Museum but the ITL discouraged me by saying that there is no time for that and also it was not a part of the itinerary. He pushed them to the cars and ordered the drivers to take them to the Mall Road. We moved to the Mall and there I explained something more on the history, architecture, buildings and various things set up in the town by the British. Some of them were interested in seeing Gaiety Theater and specially to see some art work. I lead them to Gaiety and preferred to take them inside of the first floor where in the art gallery some paintings had been exhibited.


‘No’. Immediately I was told by the ITL. ‘Show them the theater and that’s all. After this we shall take them to our preferred shops. You do not need to give any more information on all the subjects you have been talking. Just finish the tour and tomorrow I will throw them at the International Airport Delhi.'


‘But they want to see the theater’ I said.


‘Then show them the theater only’.


When we reached the gates of the theater building it was locked. I saw them getting disappointed so I told them not to worry as I knew the manager so I could get that opened. The ITL was again after me. He followed me as I proceeded towards the Manager’s office and said,’ Leave it please. Just tell them that theater cannot be opened.' But I ignored him and took them inside.


Now I was irritated and angry too on ITL’s behavior. I said to him, ‘My dear, they have come from so far away to see India. They must have made countless efforts to collect money to visit this place and now when they are here it is our duty to give them as much information as possible. So you please do not stop me from what I am doing. OK? You do your work and let me do my work’. He was shocked to hear this.


Well, I know very well that he is not going to call me for my services next time whenever he comes to Shimla. But I was shocked on his behavior and attitude that tells that how selfish we are. We keep one of our eye always on the pocket of the tourist. We try to take maximum out of him and send him back with empty pockets to his country.


The group belonged to a very big Tour Company which has back to back groups coming to India from all over the world. It does not make any difference to them if one of their ITL behaves this way because in the eyes of the company’s officers, this ITL is the best representative of their company.  


Is it what we call is Tourism?
The leading companies of the world are looting tourists and tourist do not even come to know that they have been cheated. And if this is tourism then ever in my life if I get a chance to travel though this company, I will rather prefer to travel on my own.



Sumit Vashisht is the Astounding Himalayas Editor for Wandering Educators