What's with tourist places and people trying to make a quick buck off you?

What's the catch here? That is what I thought each time I was being taken for the ride; or, later, when I was politely and sometimes sternly declining the services of guides. Despite knowing that tour guides are usually not worth the penny and that we are usually better off on our own, we let ourselves be 'guided' to all the places where we could lose money.

Aesthetic Blasphemy | Image of the aligned tall sandstone arches inside the Salim Chishti dargah enclosure

The Chadar seller explains the protocol you follow once inside the dargah of Salim Chishti - how you'd put the chadar on his shrine, and flowers on top of it; how only those who have been called can visit the shrine, and how Pak ex-Prez Musharraf twisted his ankle on the staircase. One part of you is wondering - 'is that mandatory?' while the other says, 'shhh... You wonder if the chadars are for free, because he hasn't talked about the cost yet. Then the tale takes a twist, and you are told there is no money donated in the shrine. But, the chadars we offer are given out to people in need - little girls, or girls of age who are about to get married, or to a whole family - each chadar being 2100, 5100, and 11000 bucks. And you feel stuck because you cannot just back out of the act politely - and you go for the lowest cost option, while the person nudges if you really don't want to help the bride-to-be? No. You secretly hope the chadar to be of good quality - but the moment you touch it... All in the name of charity. Move to the next altar, where you'd be the offering again.

You try not to let this chicanery spoil your mood as you travel and try to shrug it off. But the pestering can rub you off the wrong way. You tell yourself that the new guys trying to bilk you don't know that an old guy already got you, and you try to maintain a cordial demeanor through their 'offers'.

So, what's the catch? Turns out - I am. A great catch! Whale, whale, whale!

Aesthetic Blasphemy | Photo of a bird called painted stork