It was gonna happen at some point. They always get you when you’re not prepared or feeling pretty sleepy after a long journey. In our case we arrived into mysore from bangalore at about 2pm, came out of the station to see a pre paid auto service. These services are regulated by the government and basically mean that, unlike normally, auto drivers can’t pluck a figure out of their minds that is 3 times more for tourists. I have no idea why then we decided to take a ride to the hotel with Ravi. He was particularly aggressive and in your face, a trait which we’d begin to recognise in mysore sellers in general, and he said to us that he’d put the auto on the meter. All autos have meters but trying to get a driver to use one is as difficult as trying to fit a cow through a hosepipe. He also said that the pre paid service is much more expensive which was a lie, one of many he told.
Bewildered and tired we agreed to his final offer of 40 Rs rather than the meter, 15 Rs more expensive than the pre paid service as we found out later. This wasn’t the main part of being done though. When we arrived at our hotel he said that we could see women making incense, but they only do so on Monday (lie). After we got into our hotel room, Pete got a bout of Delhi belly and that threatened to call off the incense excursion. Maybe his tummy was trying to tell us something…
We really wanted to see people making incense which to be fair was very good. The man at the ‘incense factory’ said that the rest of the women were on holiday for a national festival (lie) and invited us into to his office. Weirdly there was a French Canadian women sitting on the sofa not really doing anything and didn’t engage in conversation with us. Another strange Australian with a handle bar mustache walked in and muttered something about the oils. The oils which the man was now trying to sell us in the incense factory, which was a house. Alarm bells ringing yet? Not for us. Weirdly.
We ended up buying 2 oils and 100 incense sticks that we vaguely needed for roughly £23. When we said we didn’t have enough cash he dispatched his creepy, violent looking assistant to come with us to the cash point with Ravi, he also told us not to go to Devaraja market because they dilute their oils with alcohol (lie). It’s actually because you’ll realise you’ve been ripped off. We bought 5 oils from a really nice man in the market for £10 and he threw in some sandalwood paste and 100 free incense sticks. We have a lot of incense sticks.
Salman, the guy at the market stall, which is funnily called I.R.S after the fact that all 15 of his family’s initials are that, had many stories of tourists reduced to tears when they came across his fair prices compared to being ripped off by auto drivers and their commission based pals. An Israeli man wanted to start a business so he bought 20 15ml bottles from a man for the equivalent of £208. It would have cost him £40 at the stall.
Ravi had the cheek to call us a few days later. We didn’t pick up. Goodbye Ravi.