When I wrote about charity business yesterday, I mentioned that this kind of cheating unfortunately happens here in India. This is also why people in other countries hesitate to donate directly to India – who knows where the money lands in this country where corruption is still so common? But not only donors, also travellers in India have made the experience that not everyone in India is as honest as they may seem. This experience unfortunately disappoints many people.
It is quite normal that spiritual people come to India to explore the country of origin of the yogic science, the country where spirituality is said to be everywhere, where people have more heart and love. They have very high expectations on India’s spirituality.
So they come here and travel to Varanasi for example, believing that there, in this holy pilgrimage town, they will find many enlightened people, spirituality and love. Especially Varanasi is popular however for people being tricky, telling lies and cheating others for their own benefit.
It is not only Varanasi, though. Everywhere across India you have to be careful as a traveller because there are many scams out there. It is quite known that shopkeepers let tourists pay higher prices, sometimes several times the amount that they take from Indians. Travel agents take exorbitant prices for their services, pretending that there are no train or plane tickets available and they had to help through their connections. Tour guides take you to expensive shops recommending them because they get a commission of whatever you buy. Fake jewelers sell fake gemstones, seemingly religious priests perform ceremonies and clairvoyants tell you the future. Pharmacies sell you different medicine than your doctor prescribed to make more profit and doctors recommend treatments and tests that are not even necessary. People make promises they don’t keep, taxi and rickshaw drivers drive you around the town to reach to places that were only 100 meters away. Food stores sell you expired items and you can buy tap water filled in mineral water bottles.
Is it surprising that people get disappointed from India? They expect a high spirituality, full of honesty, compassion and love and instead they get cheated, they are being told lies and they are constantly being ripped off. Who would not be disappointed?
We recently made an experience with two travellers who wanted to visit India and come to the Ashram, too. They landed and started their travels by going to Varanasi. After three days they sent us an email, telling us that they would not come. They had made all of those experiences, were terribly disappointed and decided to just go back home.
So my first advice for travellers to India is to read about travelling in India so that you get an idea what you can expect. Don’t keep too high expectations due to what your yoga teacher told or what you read in some spiritual book. Indian people are spiritual, you will find a lot of what you have heard of but it is not heaven on earth with pink clouds, everyone living in bliss and free hugs on the road to everyone who wants. People who have such an idea will get disappointed.
In India there is a lot of poverty and that is one reason that tourists face those problems. But when you come with some preparation and an open mind, you will see that not the whole country is full of cheaters. There are many beautiful people here, too, who are honest and spiritual, who love each other and who are curious to get to know you or to help you. You will find people helping you find your way and you will find support when you least expect it. You need to be aware of cheaters but open to helpers and lovely people. Those things happen but don’t get very disappointed and discouraged by them. Don’t stop your journey and return home after one day. Give India a chance! We want to invite you here and show you the beauty of this country, of its people and its culture.
I can of course only give a guarantee for my own home and family and I can assure you that if you choose the Ashram for your stay, maybe for the beginning of a journey, you can have an insight into the beautiful culture. India gives you the possibility to learn much about love in between family members, about supporting each other and living together in peace and freedom. You will be able to see how friends are there for each other and how you can make others a part of your family even though they are not related by blood. Be ready for getting to know India from all its sides!