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Bitten But Not Shy: How Women Tourists Navigate a Rude Delhi

Wary but filled with wanderlust, foreign tourists in Delhi have tricks up their sleeve to make their travels easier

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India
4 min read
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Spot a Foreigner? Seize the Moment and Ask for a Selfie

An American visiting India for the first time, Anne Bax was prepared for the colourful chaos and deafening din of the streets of New Delhi. What she did not expect was to gain minor celebrity status wherever she went. With brazen abandon, young men, each more confident than the last, approached her for a selfie as she took in the sights at Red Fort.

Taken aback by the sudden attention, the 30-year-old obliged a few, before her friendliness began to attract droves.

“It’s a bit strange, I’m not used to it but I guess people just see me as someone who doesn’t belong here. It makes me a little uncomfortable. Before I came, I was just warned to be careful because I look so different and I’m from a country that’s completely different.”
Anne Bax, American tourist
Wary but filled with wanderlust, foreign tourists in Delhi have tricks up their sleeve to make their travels easier
American tourist Anne Bax had to oblige a host of youths asking for a selfie with her, while she was sightseeing.
(Photo: Arpita Raj/The Quint)
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Negative Press Abounds...

Singled out in a crowd for their unfamiliar appearance, foreign female tourists have historically had their share of challenges touring the country.

News of foreign tourists being molested in cabs, raped in their hotel rooms and groped on crowded trains are commonplace, even resulting in India getting the dubious title of world’s most unsafe country earlier in June.

Whether the intention is to cause genuine harm or just make a quick buck at the expense of an inexperienced ‘firang’, the women recount how they are fed thinly-veiled lies to make them change their plans. From conveniently booked out trains to hotels that seem to have shut shop overnight, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

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Wary but filled with wanderlust, foreign tourists in Delhi have tricks up their sleeve to make their travels easier
Martina (left) and Claudia from Italy, have come up with several ‘hacks’ to ensure safe travels
(Photo: Arpita Raj/The Quint)

Martina Beltrami, a 25-year-old tourist from Italy, travelling with her friend Claudia Ballerini, said she was glad that her first trip to India was spent with a male friend, as it afforded a sense of security.

“The first time I was travelling with a man and he made me feel more comfortable, but not because of anything that he did. I learnt a few things, like always having an Indian SIM and having someone to call, even if it’s your hotel,” she said.

“I’ve been to lots of places in South East Asia, but I found that India was a country apart. For example, Delhi is a really big city but it’s super crowded, it’s not a Western city. While maybe Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are a little more Westernised cities, you can find things easily. Delhi is more local and maybe a little more dangerous, because you can get lost.”
Claudia Ballerini, Italian Tourist
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Tips and Tricks Picked up Along the Way

Keeping a tight grip on their belongings, armed with an Indian SIM card and abundant caution, female tourists from different parts of the world are navigating the streets of New Delhi with increasing confidence.

Learning from fellow travellers, they know not to make unnecessary eye contact, double check the facts they are fed, and to always think one step ahead, even if it means using fake jewellery to appear married.

Travelling with another female friend, Catherine Medina from Los Angeles, USA said that while being cautious was on her mind, she was also treating it like any other country.

Wary but filled with wanderlust, foreign tourists in Delhi have tricks up their sleeve to make their travels easier
Catherine Medina from USA is an extensivetraveller, and has approached her travels in the country with the same cautionexercised elsewhere
(Photo: Arpita Raj/The Quint)
“I heard that it’s a beautiful country with lots of people, lots of traffic, Delhi especially…A lot of people warned me and my friend to be careful and aware, but that’s a warning I get no matter where I go.”
Catherine Medina, American tourist
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Too Enchanted Not to Return

Lidor Shahar, 24, is on her second trip to India and cannot resist coming back.

“India is beautiful, with a lot of places. Every time you go, you find new places – India is big, Israel is small! It’s not the same. The views, the food and the people – everything in the country,” said Lido.

Wary but filled with wanderlust, foreign tourists in Delhi have tricks up their sleeve to make their travels easier
Israeli tourist Lido Shahar is on her second trip to India, and much wiser.
(Photo: Arpita Raj/The Quint)

In love with the country and curious to explore more, this generation of foreign women will not let leering men stand in the way of their wanderlust.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Selfie   New Delhi   Women Safety 

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