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This is India! 53

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Hippie in Heels.

What I was up to other than here:

  • Check out these 10 UNESCO sites given over by 10 travel bloggers; I wrote about Hampi. I was also quoted in this article on 201 travel tips for people coming to India. Although some of the tips are a little extreme (particularly the food ones, as I eat street food and drink filtered water), they are helpful for those new to India. I also added a little bit to this fun beauty article where some bloggers shared their favorite items.
  • Other than that, I think I have the flu or something & India is very hot so we are thankful the power has stayed on and we can be in the A/C. Thinking of the people who aren’t so lucky here AND WE ARE GOING TO LANGKAWI MALAYSIA TOMORROW AM! I am so excited to explore with the people from Natural Langkawi and share with you :)

Now your story,

I ask people all the time what stands out to them when they look back on their trip in India. Britani talked about all the people wanting photos with her at the Taj and my mom and dad also mentioned that type of thing happening at Hampi.

I’m not sure the obsession with taking photos with foreigners, but I’m not bothered by it. While having a tour guide in Karnataka, who translated for me, I learned that after a group took a photo with me the woman said “I can’t wait to show this to my mother when we get back”.

Sometimes, the people haven’t seen a foreigner before other than TV. Other times, it’s boys who just want to collect photos. It’s something that’s bound to happen on your trip to India and I’d love to get the perspective of my Indian readers on why this happens.

One interesting one I get a lot is a family wanting a photo. They usually want me to hold a baby if they have one and sometimes the father of the family wants to shake my hand in the photo. A couple girls I met told me they were on the beach in Goa when a man just plopped his baby down in front of them and took a photo without saying one word, and he was gone.

one day in hampi, indians want photos with foreigners

This is India!

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Melanie June 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Isn’t that crazy?! I would have the same thing happen to me when I lived in Indonesia. Random people would hand me their babies and say “picture?”. I would sometimes get overwhelmed but for the most part I thought it was funny!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

      hahah how fun! I went to bandung indo recently and didnt get too much of it, just a group of police officers wanting a pic and giggling haha

  2. Ashley June 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Even though I knew it was bound to happen, I was still surprised when people started asking to take photos with me in India! At the Taj Mahal, two Indian girls hired a photographer and he basically took a photo shoot of my friend and I with them, but they didn’t say a word to us. I’m not sure if the photographer thought it would be a good idea and the girls just went along, or if they wanted the photos but were too shy to ask. It was a funny experience nonetheless!

    • Asher Fergusson June 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Yeah, isn’t crazy how much it can be like you’re a major celebrity when traveling in India. I’ve had times when I’m mobbed by school kids who think I’m 7 ft tall and can’t stop yelling at me, “can I get a SELFIE!” :)

      P.S thanks for the mention Rachel!

      • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

        lol i can just imagine that scene! can i get a selfie! that’s hilarious

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

      haha! I love that story! the Taj is the ideal place to become famous ;) I also had quite an interesting experience there and find once you say yes to one person, they start to line up!

      • Asher Fergusson June 8, 2015 at 7:14 am - Reply

        Yep, there’s a good chance they’ll line up. Can be hard to leave the scene actually :) I was thinking to start charging 10rs per photo – I’d be rich by now if I did!

    • Elliott June 11, 2015 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Haha I’ve only experienced that one time. It was at tourist stop on the way to Hue, Vietnam.

  3. Pritam Rana June 5, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I think it is just an awe of seeing a foreigner for the first time and they want to tell others. It won’t matter to people who have seen foreigners before. Did you actually experience this in Goa ? Goa usually has a lot of foreigners, so people should be accustomed…

  4. christine wilhelm June 6, 2015 at 1:26 am - Reply

    Westerners are curious novelties. It is good fun for young folk to pose with foreign guests and it always brings out lots of smiles and giggles. Indian girls and women gossip about our clothes and our hair styles just like we do. When we talk about kurtas or saris, they will talk about Lee verses Levi jeans.
    During my recent three week trip to India, though I am no longer pretty or young, I was asked four different times to join in photo ops with fellow Indian female travelers. I was honored to be their guest in their beautiful country and I always gave back a giant grin.
    I loved having my picture taken with smiling girls holding my hand or having their thin arm around my waist. We may have been complete strangers but we were sharing the same spot and time in our great universe happily. I took their pictures too!

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 9:46 am - Reply

      That’s the funniest part, that the women are gossiping about us – they always giggle and whisper haha It’s too funny. I love the way you write about having your photo taken with the girls, so sweet.

  5. Emily June 6, 2015 at 2:33 am - Reply

    When we were at the Taj Mahal and just sitting far back enjoying it, a huge group of school girls encompassed us and giggled and were just SO fascinated with us. They sat around us staring for a good 15 minutes. It was odd, but also endearing.

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 9:46 am - Reply

      I think endearing is the right word for it. So, when men do the same thing I try to give them the benefit of the doubt that just like girls they are curious and sweet people ;) haha

  6. Justine June 6, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Haha, this is so funny. Indonesia sounds very similar to India with this. I haven’t had anyone hand me their baby, but having people ask to take photos with foreigners is super common here. If you go to touristy sites (like the temples of Borobudur or the national monument in Jakarta) you can expect to take TONS of photos with large groups of high school kids. So funny!

    • Rachel Jones June 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Yeah I think they must be very similar. Are you going to make it to Bandung before you leave?

      • Justine June 7, 2015 at 9:12 am - Reply

        I was supposed to go a couple weeks ago, but I had a friend from the US randomly go to Bali so I went there instead! I only have three weeks left here so I doubt I’ll make it :( I really, really want to go though!

  7. Siva June 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    It is all just about seeing someone for the first time.. I am not sure about why babies are handed over for photos, but as others have mentioned before, it’s just a cool factor to be in a photo with someone foreign. Especially if you are white as most have them have heard so much about US, UK, Australia etc., but have not seen someone in flesh, which adds a to the wow factor to the photos they take.

    Being an Indian I have experienced this with tourists from Taiwan, mainland China, South Korea here in Singapore. Have also experienced this a bit when I travelled to Japan, China etc..

    Though, with all the negativity surrounding an Indian male this has reduced

  8. Tim UrbanDuniya June 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    My mom loved it the first time she went to India!! She thought it was great, being treated like a celebrity!! :D

  9. Laura @ Bottled Air June 9, 2015 at 6:16 am - Reply

    I don’t mind when people ask to take photos with us – I mean I get it, we really do stand out as foreigners and especially at huge tourist attractions, you’ll often find people who are just visiting from lesser known places where there are no foreigners at all. What I do find annoying is when people just come up to you and hold their phones in your face without asking.

    Or when they start lining up for photos and it just never seems to end haha.

    Oh India.

  10. Backpack Babe June 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    EEEEEK! So exciting that you’re going to Malaysia! It’s one of my “must-sees” on my travel list, can’t wait to read all about your experiences there :)

    What stands out about India: I traveled to India with my family for a month, and I’ll never forget our experiences on the trains with all the people and the humid air and the MASALA CHAIS my favorite. But I think I miss the food the most :P mmmm

  11. Betsy June 11, 2015 at 9:52 am - Reply

    I was told about the photo thing before my first trip to India. We definitely experienced people wanted to take photos with us at the tourist sites in Maharastra. On my second trip to India the only place anyone wanted to take my photo were two teenage boys at the Qutab Minar. Earlier this year I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh and families and girls would want their pictures taken with me, but this only happened at tourist spots and Bangladesh definitely gets less tourists than India. I personally had a great time with the family photos in Bangladesh as everyone was so friendly and often times they spoke no English and I do not speak Bangla, so it was a way to share a moment and feel connected.

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