Dedicated to a friend, who insisted
Perhaps it is borne out of the need to see something very different from their own surroundings and the world they grew up in, but whatever the reason, many travellers use the word "real" to denote something negative - like poverty or corruption. Some travellers aren't satisfied that they have seen the "real" people until they have seen someone dying of hunger. Maybe I should not read too much into this, because when we say that we have seen the "real" face of a person, more often than not, it means we have seen their less than good side. But I still cannot shake off my belief that the word "real", in connection with travel, has been blatantly misused. Why should you go to a one room mud hut to meet a "real" person? What about the rest of the people? I concede that sometimes a tourist is so insulated by the machinations designed by the tourism industry for the comfort, and exploitation, of its guests, that they often come away with a very different perspective of the daily realities of the natives. But it has been my long standing view that true understanding of "real" can never be achieved without using true scales and measures whatever be the experiences you have - insulated or otherwise. I believe understanding comes from within. Here, allow me to quote The Doors, "People are strange when you're a stranger". As I'd mentioned before we will always judge others using our own standards not theirs. Wherever we go, our sense of reality is determined by the yardstick that we carry within ourselves at all times. "Real" is all around you - you just have to see it.
Oh, let me just come to the point. Don't come up to me and tell me that you want to see the real India unless you have a very good answer to, "Oh, so you think I am a fake Indian from fake India?"