And there are many ways to snap a snapper!
Whats the best way to get back at those incredibly rude camera goons? Those gaggles of young girls with their phones and eyes trained defiantly on you, the animal; those two holidaying young men prowling the beach with their cameras, faces, minds, penises trained on your innocent or not so innocent self (either way it’s rude!)?
Well! I have many methods. Its a game really, and I’m going to teach you the rules.
Option of Response no. 1: Business is Business
My very favourite reaction to being caught on tape against my will is to turn right around and ask for a picture in return. This is a nice thing to do, it breeds niceness because everyone gets a nice picture out of it.
Option of Response no. 2: Return the Favour
This is like option 1 but a lot sneakier…
Swindle the swindlers, snap the snappers and play the players. It gives me great great pleasure to practise what has been practised on me, even if it’s directed at someone entirely unrelated, and feel the immense power of breaking even.
You gonna take a pic of me in my kurta? Well I’m gonna remember that, and the next kurta-clad man I come across is gettin’ a place on my camera. Yep, that’s right, its happening.
Generally in the ‘Return the Favour’ AKA ‘Swindlin’ practise, my rule of thumb is to copy what the swindler does – if they stare at you defiantly whilst obviously filming a close-up of your T-zone, oggle them with the ferocity of a thousand angry feminists and shove your phone right up into their personal bubble.
If they sneak a shot and grin at you sleazily before edging away, edge after them, ghost them, and whenever they turn back just chuck them a cheesy lip-twerk of your own.
And if they do the good old ‘I’m taking a photo of my friend who happens to be right in front of your beach towel’ thingie, jump up, stand in front of their friend and stare them straight in the face. They want a pic? Well go ahead honey!
Option no. 3: Strike a Deal
Why not charge for your pretty face? In India many people make a living out of charging extortionate amounts for bizarre and often unique products.
Want your ear’s free of stones? Ohhhh 500 a stone sir! Unaware that you had stones down there? That’ll be another 200 thanks. Or perhaps you’d like a blessing?
Well you have to donate you know, and 600 is the usual amount… Need a pocket knife? Saaaaaab kuch milegaa!!! Wait here, only 2460rps and 200 for my commission, sir. Good price!
So many ‘good prices’, and if they can do it…why can’t you? You have something to sell – you. And I don’t mean in a bad way.
Unfortunately the only price I’ve ever put on myself (for a photo) is 500rps and sadly I was refused even that, but I have proof that this method does in fact work! Wanna travel India and earn money as you go? Well then…
My travel companion S has asked for 10 or 20rps a couple of times in exchange for her winning smile, and the number of chai shouts she could henceforth afford became huge in the balance of our delicate little travelling lives.
I met a girl in Delhi who asked for 200 and received it, and two young men in Fort Kochi, Kerala, who had actually taken the time to sit and discuss prices for various shots; ‘ok so 50 for a head-shot, what do you think 100 if the shoulders are in it?’ ‘
Yeah, and then 250 for waist up and 300 for a full length. And of course we charge more if its both of us, yeh?’ ‘For sure, and if they want to be in it better make it a fiver’…
This. Is. A. Thing.
Option no. 4: Why you Deny?
Another option is to just bloody well say no. The funniest instance of this happening to me was in Srinagar, Kashmir, on the very top of Shankaracharya Hill.
A group of Delhi-boys up for the weekend requested ‘just one picture ma’m’, baulked at our instant refusal and proceeded to follow S and I down the hill. We refused again and told them to bog off but they kept at us right to the tuktuk with such persistence that eventually I almost gave in.
But no. We climbed into our vehicle and told the driver ‘Jaldiiiiiii chalo chalo!’, and as he fumbled with the gears in ice-stiffened clumsiness one of the boys reached the window.
We saw his hands first, they grabbed the bit of ribbing at the top of that opening which serves for a window and a door and which in this case held a strip of rubber to block said opening and keep out the icy wind.
His fingers were gloved and reminded me a bit of pompoms, and as he proceeded to stuff his red-cheeked face into the 20cm wide gap above them we watched in fascination at his complete and utter determination.
This man wanted a photo! He wanted ‘one photo ma’m’ and he was darn well gonna get it so help me ma’m!
He pressed his face further in, his eyebrows furrowed and he shifted his jaw slightly to the right, making room… The gap was long rather than tall and his head, though far too big from top to bottom, left large whistling gaps past both his ears through which the wind continued to fling itself.
He was not deterred. Firmly, with the air of one who would persist until the end, he opened his lips and widened his eyes, he bulged his cheeks and sucked in a tortured breath through his barely openable lips, he scrunched the flesh beneath his eyes and wrinkled his nose, his chin dimpled in suppressed energy as something built and built and grew and grew and swelled and enlarged inside him, then…
The words shot from his gullet! Propelled from somewhere deep within, scraping his oddly squished chin and leaping from his face in it’s awkward position crammed under the awning.
They smacked us right in the face! WHY WE DENY?! God I had no idea anymore! Crickey! Why did we deny? Oh help! Oh my!
He looked like a particularly irritated owl with very fluffy gloves on, and his ferocity was so incongruous that as we drove away S and I had to sit and process for a few hundred metres. We couldn’t speak, or rather we didn’t.
We just let the moment happen again a few times in our minds, adjusted to the bizarreness of it all, before bursting into uncontrollable and perfectly justifiable laughter and genuinely delighting in the complete lunacy that was a group of men on top of Shankaracharya Hill.
Seriously, SAY NO!
Option no. 5: Snap till they Snap!
And this is my favourite, or my second favourite, oh come on I enjoy them all that’s why I made this list. If someone takes a snap of you against your will or permission, you bloody well snap! Crack! Lose it! Go mad!
I was in Jaipur walking to dinner, having spent the day almost at breaking point in the cab of a literally insane driver (another story), and a group of stupid obnoxious men took a picture of me and my companions.
Well. The key culprit was a tall-ish fellow in a purple shirt, the type that looks expensive but probably isn’t, and as he turned away to share his photographic gem with his fellows I stormed right up to his toes and shouted in his face – ‘WHATS YOUR PROBLEM!’ Honestly, I did.
And more besides. Maybe not the smartest move (and I have to say, play this one by ear) but it worked in this instance – the idiot leapt about 6 feet into the air and grabbed at his friends mumbling ‘no ma’m nnn-n-nn-no-‘…what a chicken, pathetic.
I ended up walking away – decided my stomach was in more urgent need of attention than this buffoon and his stupid camera. But as we turned and continued on our merry way we were followed by helpless laughter.
Laughter? At us? Ohhhh no no no you don’t, I was about to turn and shove him a taste of what it’s like to mess with Miss Z, but when I looked back I didn’t find what I thought I’d see.
Mr Purple-‘n-n-nn-no ma’m’ was surrounded by his friends but not in the supportive, hooting gang-like way I had anticipated; a gaggling bunch of utterly tickled 20-somethings flopped around in complete abandonment, slapping each other’s shoulders and pointing at their purple friend who, bright red and shamefaced, cowered beneath their berating.
After all, what man leaps and stutters at a small, worthless white girl?
Strangers can be annoying, but sometimes you have to trust them…even with your life. This happened to me in India >