Price difference for Indians and Foreigners in India – 25 Feb 08

Indian culture

Today was Eric's birthday. He is from Luxembourg and since one month he lives in the Ashram and helps the students. We celebrated his birthday and surprised him with a cake and gifts. He seemed to be very happy about it which made me happy.

My friends Roger and Mady went for a walk in the town today. When they were taking pictures from a barber's shop the barber waved them in and wanted to have money because they took pictures. Roger insisted that if he wants money he should do something for it and shave him. So Roger sat down and enjoyed for the first in his life how someone shaved him. Of course not with an electric shaver but with a blade. After this and a nice head massage Roger asked for the price. And the barber wanted to have 100 Rupees for something that normally costs five Rupees. Good, Roger gave it because he did not know that it is expensive and because it is only two Euros. He laughed a lot when we told him that he paid 95 Rupees more. He said: "Maybe it makes him a rich man for one day and it does not make me a poor man." It is a nice attitude that I appreciate but on the other hand this shows how funny the prices are in India. When a foreigner comes, who is easily recognized because of the white skin, the prices are immediately more than doubled. However compared with the prices in Europe it is still cheap. And this is how it works here. You have to negotiate and bargain and still then as a foreigner you will not get the same price that Indians get.
 

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  1. Michal

    I lived in India for about a year and eventually became familiar with the Indian price for the things I was paying more for. I think that everyone is happy when a westerner can receive a good or service for a very cheap price while a merchant or serviceman can receive double the profit he would usually make. I remember becoming agitated a few times when people would ask me to pay double what I would pay in London for something that cost very little. I felt angry, forgetting that people in India probably don’t know what I would pay for a bushel of bananas where I come from. That was a rare occasion. I’m a fan of sliding scale payment. Some parks would even list an alternative price for foreigners. What always saddened or angered me however was the dishonesty that went into these transactions. There was no need for it but I think that people familiar with the tourist business felt that they would not earn more if they did not tell me stories about why they needed more. Looking back I wish I would have had this conversation with more merchants; that I personally would feel very happy to pay them more. Sometimes the lies I would here would frustrate me so much that I would pay as close to the “Indian” price as I could manage.

  2. Jerry

    Oh i hate that! and yet I understand from the shopkeeper’s perspective that there is a difference in how much they make and you make as a Westerner.

  3. Emily

    It is crazy how different the economies are! While many foreigners feel they are being “ripped off” for being charged a lot more than the locals, I think it’s not that bad. It’s sort of appropriate. When you compare the scale of wealth and economy, 100Rps is about 2USD or 2Euro. That is incredibly cheap to a foreigner, yet it might be a sizable amount to an Indian. Even in the U.S., I have lived in a tourist destination where the prices are much higher for foreigners… and everyone there uses the USD. Here in India, I don’t mind spending 1,000Rps on something I really love, especially when it will help someone here!

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