Finally half of the training is completed. Now three weeks of classroom teaching and one week of orientation tour are left and after that I will have to do my field work. I am so excited for my field work. I talked with the other participants of the program about my field work on LGBT tourism and all of them said that maybe the institute will not approve my subject. It’s disturbing but I will have to do something. I am trying to get some basic information about LGBT tourism so that I can talk with my professor and try to convince him to approve my subject.
In the case that they don’t allow me to work on LGBT tourism, I will go for either eco or rural tourism. I don’t want to do my field work on those traditional Indian tourism subjects like heritage or culture. I want to learn about heritage and culture as well and I will have to learn about it; I will have to mention the heritage and culture of Benares in my research even if I am permitted to do my research on LGBT tourism, but I would love to be specialized in LGBT tourism. Nobody has ever done it in India before and nobody else is going to do it in the present batch so it will be very good for me if they approve my subject.
If my subject is not approved, then I would like to do my field work in Mirzapur district about eco-tourism becuase Mirzapur district is only 75 kms from Benares and is full of beautiful nature. The professors taught us about caves, cave temples and rock painting of Mirzapur which is very interesting to me. Mirzapur is not a touristic place because government never promoted Mirzapur as a tourist destination but I would like to do it because there are lots of opportunities there. Mirzapur has a lot of waterfalls, dams, rivers, lakes, hills… Maybe I can start trekking and camping tours in Mirzapur.
Even if my LGBT subject is approved, I would still like to promote and work in Mirzapur. Mirzapur is basically rural area so I can promote Mirzapur as a rural tourism site as well. I am so excited for this project. This week we had very interesting lectures. One of our guest lectures was Mr. Pandya who won the best tour guide award for the year 2008. He works in Agra. He was telling that he is the highest paid tour guide of India. When a tour guide is giving tour to some tourist, the client stays in a fancy hotel and the tour guide stays in a budget class hotel. But Mr. Pandya has his own rules and he stays in the same five start hotels where his clients stay.
He was telling that because of his own rules and high charges he doesn’t get much work. He hardly does five or six assignments in a year. He charges $100 per day which doesn’t seem too much, but I don’t know why he was describing this amount as too much. Sometimes I make that much money by working with students as their translator. He had amazing knowledge of the golden triangle. He was advising us about improving our accent. He said that Indians have their own English but since we work with tourists and we get paid for it, we should try to learn their English.
This week I was taught about a word called ” Chabbi” which I had never heard before. It is a tourist sector Hindi word which means commission. We had a Muslim professor who was an expert on tourism in Jammu & Kashmir and he said that he did not want to take commission by the shop keepers by making his clients shop at their shops in the beginning of his career because Islam did not allow commission but now he also enjoys it. He said that this is what the system is and this system is popular all over the world. He said that tour guides all over the world are doing same thing.
In a few countries they call it profit sharing which sounds better, and specially for Muslims it is good word. He said that if he doesn’t bring the clients to the travel agency stores, he will be kicked out of the job. We had few very interesting lectures about India tourism offices working in India and abroad, Islam, female foreign tourists in India, condition of women in medieval Indian history, eco tourism, water tourism, adventure tourism, architectural heritage of India, Kamasutra, Khajuraho sculptures…
I asked the professor who was giving lecture about Kamasutra if Kamasutra talks about homosexuality or not and he said that homosexuality is in existence for the long time, even Babar was fond of males. He said that Afghanistan seems to have the most strong gay culture in the world at present time. It was a really interesting answer. Something else very interesting thing happened while one of our classes about Islam. We had a professor from Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi to deliver a lecturer about Islam. One of the participants asked him about the condition of women in Islam and his answer was the condition of women is terrible in all the religions.
He did not say anything in particular about the condition of women in Islam. Then one other participant told him about how liberal Hindi society was in terms of condition of women, and then the professor just smiled and said why Sita had to give Agni Pariksha . The participant wanted to say something but the professor did not want to hear him. He just left the classroom saying that he was getting late. The program is very nice and I am loving it. I am looking forward to the next four weeks of the training.