Getty Images/Zubin Shroff
Couch surfing, the worldwide concept of offering travelers a bed or couch for free, has caught on in a huge way in India. Have a look on the Couch Surfing website and you'll find tens of thousands of people ready to welcome guests all over the country. What's interesting to note though, is that the majority of them are single males aged around 30 or under.
This recent article in the Times of India asserts that, "For many Indian men, couch surfing -- a platform that allows travellers to offer free accommodation -- is an excuse for asking women out on a date".
The female author of this article about couch surfing in India confirms that it's easy to find a host in India, but it is a bit tricky to find a good one. And, she says that speaking from experience, some have ulterior motives.
To be fair, she also enthuses that she got to meet and stay with a fabulous variety of people from all social classes in India while couch surfing. They included a flight attendant, an elephant rider, and a son of a wealthy family.
When it comes to couch surfing, the issue in India is that females generally don't live alone independently or travel alone. Society is conservative and it's often frowned upon. Hence, there can be misconceptions about foreign women who are willing to stay in the homes of strangers, particularly men, India. Single women who offer accommodations to strangers are also often perceived the wrong way.
Although this doesn't mean that you shouldn't couch surf if you're a woman, extra precautions should be taken. This includes checking the references on everyone's profiles and reading them carefully. It's also safer to choose hosts that are still living with their parents, or families, and exchange a couple of e-mails with them in advance.
What are your thoughts about couch surfing in India? Are Indians really ready for the concept? Any experiences to share?
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