By: Shikha Patial
Jostling coolies running after every long-route bus and taxi at the Victory Tunnel is turning out to be a headache for passengers disembarking at this point. However harmless it may appear to people who have not experience it, the truth is that such things collectively make or break the image of a place and thus may also harm the sensitive tourism and hospitality industry in the town. Deal with a new-look porters in Chandigarh to understand this better.
After a tiring journey to Shimla from downhill, when passengers reach the Victory Tunnel they are welcomed by dozens of coolies who nearly snatch belongings from them. For a visitor not familiar with Shimla, this can be a big shock.
Coolies climb and hang over the buses like monkeys hanging from trees to reach out to luggage before even the passengers disembark from the bus. After the initial shock of seeing your luggage in someone else’s hand without even your permission, comes another round of nearly threatening talk. If you are a tourist, the coolies nearly dictate you where to stay or in fact straight away heads for a hotel of ‘his’ choice. Once you have fallen into their web, it is very rare that you would get an honest porter with most of them trying to extract the most from you. They even intentionally guide the tourists through longer ways in order to overcharge them.
Forget about the tourists, here even the localities who are well aware of them and their ways often get overcharged because at that time you are completely at their mercy. Their job is not just of a coolie as they even work as the commission agents of travel agencies, hotels and tourists guides, which, we should admit, is the norm at almost all tourist places, and Shimla is no exception. But, why can’t Shimla be an exception?
Not that the locals or the tourist do not know all this… the fault lies with the administration that has not done anything to make them behave. Probably, the babus think they have no role to play here. But to shake them out of slumber, they should take a small trip to Chandigarh where recently the administration started a programme to teach etiquettes to porters, auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers – all the first persons any tourists encounter on arrival in a new place – and the exercise is paying. The motive behind this was very simple – to give the city a good image.
Does Shimla too need to work on that front? Of course, it does, but who cares. Not the babus.