Main Bazaar Delhi

The Day I Yelled At An Indian Man For No Reason

Derek India, Travel Tips & Advice 83 Comments

Main Bazaar Delhi
I was in my room in Delhi one day when I looked at the time. I had to make an important phone call but I suddenly realized that I didn’t have enough credit on my phone and so I rushed out of the hotel in order to find a shop where I could recharge my local SIM card.

Walking into the market area nearby, I looked left and I looked right. I saw a mobile phone shop down the road and so I headed in that direction. On the way, a cycle rickshaw almost ran over my foot, a motorcycle driver beeped his horn incessantly, a car tried to squeeze itself down the small street, the driver yelling at everyone to get out of his way, I stepped in a pile of trash, another pile of trash was set on fire in front of a shop selling belts, a man spat on the street and some of his dribble landed on my shoe…not a good start.

Upon arrival at the mobile phone shop, I learned that they don’t sell credit for my particular mobile network. The man behind the counter just told me to ‘go that way’ in order to find what I needed and he waved his hand in a vague direction. I left and continued my search.

After ten minutes, I found myself standing on a street corner scratching my head. I didn’t know what to do. I had found three mobile phone shops but none of them sold credit for my particular network and at this point, I was already five minutes late for my phone call. Not only that but I was exhausted, having not slept much the night before, and I wasn’t in the mood to wander all over a busy Delhi market, to dodge vehicles, cows and street carts, to listen to all of the noise, to step in trash and to get tugged on by people in the street trying to lead me to an “Official Tourist Office” that really has nothing “Official” about it. I was getting frustrated already and I could feel the stress starting to spread rapidly.

After attempting to take a few deep breaths, which also frustrated me as these breaths led to a few deep coughs, I glanced all around until I spotted a large mobile phone store on the next corner. And this store had my mobile phone network’s logo clearly displayed in the front window.

I ran over, walked in and asked to recharge my phone, all while feeling tense and worried about missing my call. Since I still haven’t memorized my local number, I then handed the man a small plastic folder that I keep in my pocket that has a sticker with my phone number on the front. He typed my number into his computer, I paid him the money and one minute later I received a text message stating that the recharge was successful.

Then I went to leave, but I quickly realized that the man behind the desk had not returned my small plastic folder. And I wouldn’t have cared much except that I had an important piece of paper in that folder, a piece of paper with some contact numbers on it that I really needed.

The man looked at his desk and the folder was nowhere to be found. He opened a couple of drawers, looked on the floor, asked the other staff in the shop…but the folder never appeared.

Standing there, I could feel the anger growing inside of me. I asked for my plastic folder again, shaking my head in disbelief. The man looked all over one more time but all he could do was shrug his shoulders and say “I don’t have it”. Normally, I’m a calm guy, but I wasn’t so calm at this point and I replied with a “I gave you the folder, find it!”.

The man looked under the desk, he looked under his computer screen, he even checked all of his pockets. Nothing.

I checked the time on my phone, became even angrier once I saw that I was now ten minutes late for my call, and then I just told the man, in what I can only describe as a not-so-friendly tone, “Look again and when you find it, hold onto it and I’ll be back later!”. Then I stormed out of the shop and off towards my hotel, completely ignoring the shop owners calling out to me, pushing my way through the crowds, upset with everything and just trying to get back to my hotel room as quickly as possible.

A few minutes later I was finally in the quiet of my room ready to make my call. I took my phone out of my pants pocket and sat down in a chair.

And then, just before I started dialing the number, I noticed that along with my phone, I had also pulled out some Indian rupees from my pocket, as well as….yes, my small plastic folder.

The man at the mobile phone store must have returned the plastic folder to me when he gave me the change for my recharge purchase and my overall frustration at the time had simply made me forget.

Once I realized this, I just slumped down into the chair, put my face down and sat there feeling like a complete ass and idiot. It was not a high point of this trip.

Lesson learned?

Take it slow. Nothing is really worth getting so upset about that you end up taking it out on other people. Life is all about how we treat others. And the way I treated the man in the mobile phone shop was unacceptable and it was all because I let my own problems and my own frustrations affect my behavior towards those around me.

Eventually, I made my ‘important’ phone call and guess what, it didn’t matter at all that I was almost thirty minutes late. And had I followed my own advice and just ducked into a cafe, taken a seat in a quiet restaurant or relaxed in a park for a few minutes until my sudden bout of stress had passed, the entire afternoon would have turned out completely different.

Sure, I might have been a few more minutes late for my phone call but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, and I surely would have ended up treating those around me in a manner that I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed about.

Any similar stories you want to share from your own travels or from life in general? How do you stop and check yourself before your frustrations affect your behavior?


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Comments 83

  1. I suppose I was waiting to read that you went back to the shop and apologised to the man 🙁 Still, I like your mature and insightful response to what happened. Mistakes are allowed as long as we learn from them, right?

  2. Getting frustrated and blowing out on someone happens. What is mostly sad is that we don’t have the courage to apologize to that person and to admit that we did wrong. My solution for when I get angry is to get away asap from the situation, or people, so I can breathe deeply, so I can calm down.

  3. Pingback: Confronting a Conman in Cairo - Everyday Nomad

  4. Hey Earl,
    We totally understand how you can easily lose your cool.
    While in India we had constant stares all the time and we were pretty use to it in the end (We are both heavily tattooed) We would take out our camera and point it in their direction and then they would stop instantly. India can be very overwhelming at times. Thank you for the great post.

  5. Hey Earl,
    T’was an interesting read! Moments that we all go through at times but we often pass it on without* self reflection.

    And well India as they say is an assault on your senses. Not a bad thing I say if your senses have been too numbed by the modern lifestyle. India sure does a great job of jolting it awake from its slumber. 🙂

    Good luck and do keep sharing your stories coz they are enjoyable not just for the wanderlust perspective but also coz of the warmth with which you write them.


  6. Hey Earl,
    T’was an interesting read! Moments that we all go through at times but we often pass it on with self reflection.

    And well India as they say is an assault on your senses. Not a bad thing I say if your senses have been too numbed by the modern lifestyle. India sure does a great job of jolting it awake from its slumber. 🙂

    Good luck and do keep sharing your stories coz they are enjoyable not just for the wanderlust perspective but also coz of the warmth with which you write them.


  7. Great post! Sometimes being in another culture can be stressful, especially if they’re used to doing things in a different way or at a different pace. I lived in China for 2 years, and when I first got there, I let my impatience get the best of me a few times. Most Chinese people don’t value time the same way as Westerners, so I would set up an appointment with someone and they’d be an hour or two late and not bother to call. I eventually just had to tell myself that this is the way things are done here and I need to get used to it.

  8. Oooops. My language translator went wrong above, sorry for that.

    Yea, I can’t count how many times i’ve been angry for them abroad. On a trip.
    When I was living in a developing country. One time, not only one time, actually many times, I got angry because of a water bill or a policy of the rent house that make me being a thief because of that the security guard investigated my bag when i enter my rent house.. Anyway, it would be long and boring to explain the story that I don’t want to remind it again and the reason or matter to make being angry is not important 🙂
    We all do being angry and yell or shout to other people..
    But we more sure that it’s too bad for myself before being worse for others.
    Especially, in travel, the angry can make the whole trip wrong and break the trip.
    So, not to be angry is one of most essential condition of the trip which is a life in new wonderland definitly! 😀 that’s why we always live for the wonderland, not for being angry or not being usual..

  9. yea, I can’t count how many times i’ve been angry for them in abroad. on a trip.
    when i was living in a developing country. one time, not only one time, actually many times, i got angry because of a water bill or a policy of the rent house that make me being a thief because of that the security guard investigated my bag when i enter my rent house.. anyway, it would be long and boring to explain the story that i don’t want to remind it again and the reason or matter to make being angry is not important 🙂
    we all do being angry and yell or shout to other people..
    but we more sure that it’s too bad for myself before being worse for others.
    Especially, in travel, the angry can make the whole trip wrong and break the trip.
    so, not to be angry is one of most essential condition of the trip which is a life in new wonderland definitly! 😀 that’s why we always live for the wonderland, not for being angry or not being usual..

  10. I want to visit India, but I fear I would be crabby all the time. Crowds and noise and all the stuff you described freaks me out. You are a big man to admit your embarrassment to all of us the way that you did.
    I keep a photo of a little knight in shining armor in my wallet and on my dash, to remind me to treat my fellow man with respect and patience. (especially helpful at this time of year!)

  11. Great advice, especially in a city that can be so chaotic and stressful. We had a few instances during our time in India that had me completely frazzled. We’re not perfect, but it’s always good to take a minute to stop and breathe when things get crazy. Now if only I can remember that for next time 😉

  12. It’s strange that we’re often so unable to consider our own possible mistakes in a situation. This rings so true of India for me though; various stressful moments add up to one huge reaction that you can easily feel awful about later!

  13. Ahh that poor man haha. I had a similar moment in India, but it was outside the Taj Mahal. I guess you’ve got to either apologise and move on, or just never ever show your face in the shop again and try to learn from the experience

    1. Hey Ally – Those are the options and as long as we learn the lesson when such a situation does occur, we won’t be needing to apologize to others too often!

  14. yes, you need to take it slow if you are in India.
    Interesting read from a subjective angle of a foreigner. I am Indian and have had a lot of overseas friends from hospitality club and other. They all have some way or other one or two experiences like it.

  15. I definitely have had a couple of those moments during my trip. I walked the completely wrong way trying to find the mobile phone shop in Siem Reap, and ignored anyone who pointed me in the right direction, because my friend had told me it was to the right. Turned out it was to the left. It took an hour to figure this out because I was being hard-headed. Lesson learned!

  16. Almost the same thing happened to my brother. We were on a cruise and he went swimming. He left his glasses and his towel on a chair. After he finished his swim, he came back to get his belongings. He realized that it was not there. After asking nearby people, no one saw it. He thought that someone took it and blamed a nearby stranger relaxing under the sun. A day later, a worker said that he saw it on a totally different chair. Apparently my brother remembered the wrong chair and blamed a total innocent person. Also, a couple days before that, he left his shorts on a chair in the bedroom. The cleaning guy came, and a couple hours later my brother try to find the shorts and could not find it. He blamed the cleaning man (Leonardo) which was a very kind and friendly person. I knew that he would not steal shorts, and he even tried to help us find the shorts. We found it on the same chair under some towels… Thankfully he learned his lesson on not blaming people for faults that they did not commit.

  17. I had something really similar a few weeks ago. I parked my motorbike in a mostly empty restaurant car park and one of the guards came up and asked me to park it in the cramped bicycle parking area in the corner. I blew him off quite rudely as I was in a hurry and hungry (NOT a good combo for me).

    After eating I felt bad so I went back to apologise to him. Turned out he was on a break at that point so I asked his colleague to convey my apologies.

    I felt much better after that 🙂

    1. Hey Sendaiben – I can imagine that did feel much better and I wish I had the chance to do the same. When I went back the next day to apologize, the shop was closed and I had to leave Delhi that night unfortunately.

  18. This is something that, although I’ve improved over the years, I still struggle with from time to time. Sometimes it’s good to blow off steam. It’s also good to apologise when steam is blown in the wrong direction.

    I know the feeling, Wandering Earl, and I empathise & understand. Thank you.

    1. @Spinster – It is good to blow off steam…the key is to find a way to do so that doesn’t affect others around us. As long as we keep trying to improve ourselves, such situations as the above should become less and less common.

  19. I tend to stay pretty calm even when the other person is at fault. In some ways maybe I am a push over but I believe if I am good it will come back and so far it’s been working pretty much that way!

    I guess one of the angriest times I remember was a when a man in Cairo flicked a cigarette at my partner and some of her friends who were walking a bit in front of me…. Of course I had just reason to go off on one then and when he would only apologise to me (and not to her) you can imagine how my anger grew!

    1. Hey Forest – That’s the thing…I’m usually extremely calm myself and rarely get too upset. I’m still not even sure what got me so frustrated during this particular incident. As for your tale, I can imagine why you would get upset at that happening!

      1. I just drafted up a post for my new site and realised (after the fact) that it was sort of along these lines…. The site should be up in a week or so and the post a week or so after that. I’ll post the link here (if that’s ok) when it’s done and live.

  20. Good learning from your post Earl. This kind of situation happens and I try hard to not to let the situation get the better of me..It will take time I guess to perfect it.. I agree with your comment that “Nothing is really worth, getting so upset about..”. When you are angry you tend to take wrong decisions, so probably taking some timeout for couple of minutes, thinking about the situation and then talking to the person again, may help (Well I am still trying to do that 🙂 )

    1. Hey Shashank – You are absolutely right…taking a few minutes break will usually make a huge difference and completely change the outcome of many potentially negative situations!

  21. You are not the only one to make such a mistake! In Romania, I thought I got charged too much for a meal and got in a nasty argument with the waiter. Turns out I did the conversion wrong and read the menu wrong. I felt like shit but hey, it happens!

  22. I hear ya Earl, but we travelers are only human after all. And the incessant din of nutso streets, unbearably hot/humid temps, not to mention the constant feeling of vulnerability amid a sea of gibberish (LOL, I make it sound like we’re CRAZY to travel ALL!)

    But seriously, no excuse for jumping to conclusions and blaming some poor phone card vendor who’s just trying to get through his day. But it happens – both to travelers and non-travelers alike (though I do hope you marched back there swiftly and apologized, yes?)

    Indeed, though it’s easy to lose it in the heat (both literally and figuratively) of some stressful travel dilemma, I must say I’m rather proud of the way I quickly recovered from my own recent travel ack (Robbed! at a stray bus depot in Saigon:

    In short, the legendary “S-word” happens. And there’s little to be gained by waxing livid and recklessly tossing out stray accusations/blame. Better to just suck it up, learn whatever you can from it, and move on.

    And besides, if nothing else – it makes for a great blog post, no? 😉

    1. Hey Dyanne – I did go back the next morning only to learn that the shop was closed on Mondays. And while it’s not ideal, I’ll have to wait until the next time I’m in Delhi to try again and apologize. I had a bus to catch that night unfortunately.

      And you sure did get over your incident in Vietnam quite quickly…definitely a crappy situation but there’s not much you can do when it happens and so there’s no real reason to let anger take control!

  23. Me too. Done this, though I suspect my batting average is worse than yours. Sometimes hunger, lack of sleep, super-long bus rides, running late for something- sometimes these factors meet my own lack of fully-formed character in areas and kaboom. I’ve hurt someone and I’m ashamed.

    My lasting travel regrets are the times I’ve lost it like this. I want to be a good ambassador for my country, the times I have blown it really sting. Whenever possible I believe in making amends, but sometimes it’s not possible; I came to my senses too far down the road. At that point all I can do is examine myself and try not to do it again when the next test comes.

    We’re all growing up all the time. Forgiveness is a big key to happiness. Forgiving others, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving ourselves when we fail.

    1. Hey Colleen – You couldn’t have said it better and examining ourselves, as often as we can, is often the best we can. And even though a negative situation such as the one I wrote about can’t be taken back, at least it can offer a strong, and hopefully long-lasting, lesson for me to take note of.

  24. Hey Earl,

    I appreciate your story and I think we’ve all been there.

    It’s never too late to apologize…

    Rashelle 😀

    1. Hey Rashelle – You are right an I was bummed the next day when I went back to the shop and found it was closed. I’ll get to Delhi again though and when I do, I will head right back to that shop!

  25. Haha, I’ve done that plenty of times myself. But like you I’ve made a conscious effort to not let my mood affect the way I treat people. It still comes out every once in a while but it’s far better nowadays. Plus I’m rarely in a bad mood in the first place so it’s usually no problem!

    1. Hey Chris – That’s the thing, I’m rarely in a bad mood either and I am almost always a very calm person. So when these things happen they even catch me by surprise and I am immediately shocked and disappointed. I can only work on improving my reactions and try to avoid such situations in the future!

  26. Great post Earl. I had a similar experience in Lisbon. Prior to my trip I had been warned that although the Portuguese are incredibly friendly people (and they were), that taxi drivers tended to rip off foreigners. Well no one ripped me off best I could tell, and I gave huge tips to the drivers all week. Then the last night of our trip the taxi driver inexplicably had the meter started at like 5 euro when he picked us up, and when I questioned him about it in English I foolishly thought he was purposefully ignoring me. When we arrived at our hotel, my temper got the best of me and I was very rude to him and yelled at him that he can’t rip me off because I’m an American, and that I refused to pay the full amount. The concierge intervened, and after speaking with the driver, explained that he was not ripping us off, and that in fact the 5 euro was a surcharge for weekend/nighttime pickup, and because our restaurant had ordered the taxi as opposed to us hailing it on the street. I was mortified and apologized and gave him an enormous tip, but I really wish I had not lost my temper in that situation.

    1. Hey Brian – Thank you for sharing your story and it’s great that you were able to make things right immediately after realizing your error. Things like this do happen when we’re traveling, especially since we tend to assume we are always being taken advantage of. But I’m glad your tale had a positive ending!

  27. I was laughing to myself reading this because I completely understand your frustration…esp in the country of India when you are sleep deprived. Long story short, after a less than peaceful 20 hour sleeper bus ride, we arrived to Goa where we met a driver who was promising to take us to “the nicest hotel on the beach” which then turned into showing us a hotel after hotel that were clearly falling apart and “just short walk from beach!” to which I responded “NOT ‘short walk from beach’….ON the beach. No more jerking us around!”…the next place he showed us was right on the beach and where we ended up spending the weekend lol..but yeah it got embarrassing for a second.

  28. Hey Earl,

    Thanks for bringing this topic up for discussion. Tag this “Travel Philosophy”. When we go off to travel in other countries, we are all ambassadors of our own country, or humanity for that matter. We’ve all done it to some extent, some more than others. Many times, it all comes back to ourselves. When we’re in a hurry, everything and everybody seems to be in the way. Maybe only the Buddha, Jesus or Mohamed (or fill in the blank) manage to escape this bad behavior.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to reevaluate all my prejudices one by one as they present themselves. I can do it best when I’m out on a daily walk. Thinking always seems to be easier when I’m out walking. A funny thing happens. Most of my prejudices seem to be based on something stupid that I learned or was taught long ago. Often, what breaks me out to the other side is just a simple smile to myself.

    1. Hey Steve – I think that almost always it does indeed come back to ourselves as we are all able to control our reactions and to take a moment to realize that what we are about to say or do will have no benefit to anyone. Getting to the point where such negative actions no longer arise seems ideal but of course, as human beings, it’s a difficult thing to achieve.

      Your walks sound like a nice way to deal with prejudices and I’m sure we could all benefit from taking time to clear our heads and to really focus on some of our less than admirable thoughts or beliefs!

  29. Oh my … I am embarrassed to remember all the time i and my mild-mannered partner yelled at people in India … some innocent and some responsible. You’re hot, exhausted, overstimulated, the very last shred of your private western personal space has been shredded with well-intentioned attentions. Learning to forgive yourself is also an important travel skill.

    1. Hey Heather – It’s definitely a challenge to travel here and I don’t think I’ve met a single traveler who didn’t lose it or at least almost lose it at some point during their stay in India!

  30. Hey Earl, it is so cool that you share this enlightened story. I am reading a book on yoga philosophy, it constantly mentions about how to learn to relax, i am trying too and it’s still hard sometimes :-). Did you go back to that man and apologize? Thanks and have a good day!

    1. Hey Lien – I went back the next day but the shop was closed. And since I had to leave that night, I’ll have to wait until the next time I’m in Delhi in order to try again.

  31. To be honest, I can completely relate. I used to get so stressed in Delhi too. It’s just hectic and if you are not mentally prepared for it some days, it can really get to you. I even ended up shouting at a man too, for taking my picture, although I still think it’s creepy and unacceptable. But I do need to learn to stay calm in these situations.

    1. Hey Steph – Ah yes, the photo thing. That does get annoying at times, even more so if you’re female I’d imagine as more people want to take your photo over a foreign male’s!

  32. I shouted an f-bomb into a tout’s face in India recently and I am not proud of it. I went to take a photo and he put his hand in front of my camera. It infuriated me and when I yelled at him it was spontaneous and out of character. After I yelled at him, I then got into an argument with him. In hindsight, I should have walked away at the start and came back for my photo.

    Did you go back to the store and apologize to the man?

    1. Hey Jeff – I did go back the next morning but the shop was closed and then I had to catch a bus that night. But I should make it back to Delhi on this trip and I’ll go back to the shop again when I do.

  33. Yes, we all need to take it slowly; at the same time I can see why you got upset. Man, that country seems like a crazy place. I have never had a desire of traveling to India. : )

  34. Hey Derek,

    How is it to communicate with people in India? Do a lot of people speak English? Do you have to look for younger people to try and get direction or answers from? Or are you speaking the local Hindi? I’m thinking of visiting India.. and am curious how non-hindi speaking people are treated.. are english speakers taken advantage of, because of the obvious tourist look? Is it best to go with someone that speaks the language?

    1. Hey Marc – It is very easy to get by here in India as English is widely spoken all over the country, by people of all ages. Since India was once a British Colony, English was widely taught and continues to be today. In fact, when Indians travel from one part of the country to another, they often have to communicate in English because there are so many local languages and otherwise, they wouldn’t understand each other. Even though Hindi is the official language, I believe that it is the first language of only about 20% of the population!

  35. Sarah and I are learning this lesson more and more as we travel, along with the fact that no matter who’s fault it is, getting angry almost never makes a situation better. It is easier said than done sometimes, but facing any issue with a cool head always has a much better result.

    1. Hey Tyrhone – That is very true…getting angry never helps. The more me remind ourselves of that fact, the less upset we get and the more we can avoid such situations as what I described above!

  36. I love this story, especially because I have been to Delhi many times as a flight attendant. I admire your love for India because it is indeed challending on the Western psyche, yet there is so much life in that country (Incredible India!). My friend Gustav is also a nomad ( and so I relate to the challenges you have and it has made me more aware of other nomads trying to create this new lifestyle paradigm. I have my own blog at with some of my best traveling experiences. Do you have an airline sponsor? Congratulations on living your life in a full and courageous way! Cheers, Craig Brown
    [You may delete Gustav and my web addresses from this reply if you like. I meant it for you, and not to advertise for either of us].

    1. Hey Craig – Thanks for the comment and it’s nice to connect with you here on the site! As for an airline sponsor, I don’t have anything long term, although I have had a short-term airline sponsor this year.

    1. Hey Linda – I went back the next morning but the shop was closed (many shops are closed here on Mondays) and I had to catch a bus that night. But I will go back again when I make it to Delhi again on this trip.

  37. I think its so easy to blame others and it often comes naturally even to the best of us. Sometimes we just lose it because there are so many things like the noise in India, the constant spitting and honking, the clammy atmosphere that pisses us off without us realizing it. The irritation that stems from such stimuli piles up little by little and then we go and unleash it all on some poor, unsuspecting bystander. It can be overwhelming.
    Stuff like this happens, learn from it and let it pass. Good luck to you!
    But i’m with Willsteed on this one. An apology is in order 🙂 If not for how you treated him, but i’m wondering how he felt getting yelled at in front of his peers.

    1. Hey Rhyma – Well, it is India and people are yelling at each other all the time, in shops, in the street, on buses! But I did go back to apologize, although, the shop was closed the next day unfortunately.

    1. Hey Willsteed – I did go back to the shop the next morning but unfortunately it was closed as it was a Monday and many shops in India are closed on that day. And I had a bus to catch that night. But when I get back to Delhi next time, you can bet I’ll head over to that shop.

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