“TWO HUNDRED RUPEES?!” our India tour guide, Manu, gasped. “That’s WAY too much, David!”
“Sheesh,” mumbled my brother as we walked out of the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi. “Three and a half dollars isn’t a terrible price to stroke one of those fancy snakes, especially since the guy said the fangs were removed. Anyway, I bargained him down from 1,000 rupees.”
“Next time,” Manu instructed my little brother, “Pay only 20 or 50 rupees— less than a dollar. And by the way, snakes are deaf, so they’re only “charmed” by the movement of the flute.” As our van pulled off, Manu turned around with a smile. “Anyway, the better sight is the DOUBLE snake charmer when we get to the City Palace in Jaipur. Two snakes for one!”
Whoa! Double snake charmer?! As you see from these photos, we found that charmer soon enough. Unfortunately for his pockets, by that time we already had our snake photos from the first encounter. And really– how many snake stroking photos can one have?
But this whole episode presents several questions. First: How much would YOU pay to stroke one of those famous charmed snakes of India? Second, at what point do you NOT care about getting “ripped off” in a country where your money goes so much further than at home?
When I paid $15 to pet fifteen live tigers in Thailand, I assure you that was worth it as heck. (I still use those photos on my business cards and make people faint.) Manu had a point, however, that the more tourists unknowingly pay inflated prices, the more annoying it is for everyone. The notorious price scams of Vietnam travel show this in action.
So… if a snake charmer in India beckoned for you to come hither, what would YOU do and why?