Preferably, I would like to smash your skulls right now
Ernakulam (India), March 26th 2012 

It is very hot when we stroll through the city Ernakulam, nearby the touristy town Kochi in the southern Indian province of Kerala. As often happens, somebody approaches us with the question how we like our visit to the city. The older man looks proper and speaks fluently English. He introduces himself as an intellectual man whose profession is lawyer. We tell him that we like the city, but that we have to get used to the increasing temperatures, due to the arriving monsoon.

His response is surprising and also a little bit shocking. “You are not welcome here” is what he says. He tells us that the rich tourists that visit the city are the only culprits for the increasing prices in the local restaurants. Meals that used to cost 25 Rupees (Euro 0.40) two years back, cost double that amount nowadays. And that is because tourists are prepared to pay higher prices for the same meal, is his opinion. The conversation takes a nasty turn when he says: “Preferably, I would like to smash your skulls right now”. We don’t feel a direct threat, so we decide to continue the talk with him, hopefully with the result to reduce his anger. We argue that we can not believe that the presence of some hundreds of tourists in the city, and than mainly in nearby Kochi where they eat in typical tourist restaurants, result in an overall price hike in many hundreds of locals-oriented restaurants in this metropolis. And besides that, food price increases are a global trend and also the moderate inflation in India will have its influence on the prices, is what we say.

But nothing seems to convince him. He continues his view that also the richer Indian tourists from the north of the country are part of the problem. But he immediately continues to say that he does not want to hurt them because they are “one of us” as he literally mentions it. His view is not only supported by himself is what he says. Many people think like this and something is smouldering in this city, is his opinion. “You have to send a letter to your embassy to tell them to stop the coming of tourists” is his advice. “And I will give you twenty days for that”. “After these twenty days, I will smash the skull with a stone or stick of the first white tourist I see”. “God bless you” is the last thing he says before he angrily continues his walk.

The incident made a deep impression on us. Of course, this guy is probably mentally ill, but also mentally ill people can do bad things. We eventually decide to go to the police to tell them about the incident. Maybe they got signals before and with this additional incident they might consider undertaking action. But as we expected, nothing happened. The police officer laughed a little bit at us and told us that the person who approached us did nothing wrong to us. Apparently, verbal threats are quite common in India. We left the police office with the feeling that we at least mentioned the incident, and that in case of serious problems in the future, we did at least report it to the authorities. Now just let’s hope that the mentally ill guy never brings his threats into action.

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