Did you see Chingu in Himachal?

Did you like it? Was it worth the money? Would you want to come back after ten years? OK! But what’s a Chingu? Though being a Himachali, and having spent a considerable number of years of my childhood in Himachal, I became familiar with Chingu, only during my recent trip to my village.

I had hired a taxi from Shimla – a Tata Sumo – for myself and my parents and the lots of luggage to dump us in our village in Jubbal. Having plans to venture into the tourism industry, when the means allow me, I thought of engaging the taxi-driver into a conversation, and know the secrets of the trade.

A local of Kotkhai, a well-educated – graduate – young boy and a bike-rallyist, he was more than willing to share anecdotes and some secrets. Let me call him by his surname only – Chauhan.

Well, Chauhan told me – first thing first – you earn by not running the taxi but through hefty commissions at hotels and various show-rooms across the state and particularly, Manali. No surprise here. He continued: Bhaiji! (Brother!) Punjabis and Gujaratis are the easiest to lure to buy things. The Bengalis, the Malbaris/Madrasis and the Purabias (Everyone from down South are Madrasis or Malbaris for us here and everyone from Bihar are Purabias) are the most difficult. While the former love to travel as a family, the latter in a group of multi-families.

So what’s the secret? He came to the point and asked me, “Bhaiji, have you heard of a Chingu?”

“What is it? An animal,” I asked? “Or a monument, or some place?” “Neither,” Chauhan flashed back with a smile. With a pause to create mystery, he said, “We are not supposed to leak out the secret. We take the groups (the travellers) to various show-rooms. We have a tie-up with them. Every sale of Rs 10,000 fetches us a commission of around Rs 3,000.”

I nodded in affirmation, as if I already knew that. There was a pause again.

I was being tempted to ask: So what’s a Chingu? But chose silence over curiosity. However, Chauhan chose to unravel the suspense himself.

Bhaiji, one Chingu costs anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000.”

“Depending on quality?” I asked.

“Depending on the customer,” he said, adding, “You have to be seasoned to know from the mood, language, attire of the person, how much worth the person can shell out. If there are women in the group, or not. But Bhaiji, we don’t interfere in the sale. We neither urge the customer to buy, nor side with them. If anyone asks us, we say, ‘it’s good’.”

“What? Chingu?” I interfered again. My patience was running now.

“Yes, Chingu,” he said. “But what’s it?” I asked, as a matter of fact. But he wasn’t in no mood to let the secret out so early.

“They tell the customer that Chingu has no value for them today. Its value increases as it gets older and after ten years, if they come back and sell it to them, they’ll be happy to buy it back at five times the price today. The customer has to keep the receipt handy, as a proof that the Chingu was bought from them.”

Yaar, ab bata bhee do (Friend, open up now). What’s a Chingu?” I asked.

“A shawl,” he said, with a smile.

“A shawl?”

“Yes, a shawl.”

“A woollen shawl?”

“Yes, a woollen shawl.”

“Is it some special shawl?”

“Hmmm… A special shawl to lure the customer, but otherwise a normal shawl.”

“Is the quality bad?”

“The quality is good though.”

“So, is it made of wool of some mountain animal?”

“Yes, for the tourist, but otherwise it’s normal, sheep wool.”

“But what’s so special about it?”

“It’s plain glib-talking, and marketing skill. They tell the tourists that the wool of Chingu is very special. It has no value for them today. As it gets older, the wool gets finer, and the value increases. It’s so special that it keeps a person warm during winters and cool during summers. If you wet the shawl with water in summers and wrap it around, it will keep you cool in summers,” he revealed.

The secret was out but there were some other questions left unanswered. “But, doesn’t it get ruined by pouring water over it?” I asked.

The answer was, “Bhaiji, you tell me, who will wrap a shawl in summers?”

“But what if the customer comes back?”

Bhaiji, ten years…. Who has seen ten years? Who’s going to keep the receipt for ten years? Who’s going to come back to Manali just to complain that the shawl or the Chingu didn’t cool them in summers?

“Even if one comes, they would have an answer ready that the tourist must have not taken precaution and proper care. But we haven’t heard a case of anybody coming or complaining, as yet.”

“But, what if they ask you?” I asked.

“We just say that yes, it’s good. Actually, the wool is good, but the real value should not be more than Rs 2,000. The price depends on the design work and above all the tourist. Bargaining does work at times, to a discount of up to Rs 1,000. The shop keeper makes a profit five times even after handing over our commission,” Chauhan said.

“Hmmmm…,” I nodded my head in acknowledgement that Himachalis are not as simple as I thought.

Well, would I be able to apply same tricks if I were to venture out into tourism, I’m, honestly not sure. Though one does need to be a glib-talker to be a smart business-man but is it worth cheating and ruining the reputation of the state? But, may be, it’s everywhere.

So, did you buy a Chingu, when you were in Himachal?

Cross posted on: HimVani

18 thoughts on “Did you see Chingu in Himachal?

  1. Dr. D. K. Parihar says:

    We recently came across these fellows at manali during our honeymoon trip and got fooled by them. We wasted Rs. 9900/- for chingu blanket+ five gift items with it. These people have ruined my cool impression of Himachal. Dirty fellows.

  2. Vivek says:

    hmm I am recently fooled by one shopekeeper just 4 days back.. be aware about Himachali people specially the taxi drivers and shopkeepers.. They are just sofisticated robbers.. I think common himachali is a goodman though…. I am shocked, with this article and unfortunetly can;lt even tell this truth to my wife.. at least let her enjoy the Chingu.. I will see that I recover my money from any Himachali person I meet here in my area.. now waiting for Himachali….
    THEY ARE BIG ROBBERS

  3. pranjal says:

    bahaut hi labhdayak information thee. thank you. chingu is the name of my pet cat and she is soft like a shawl indeed. i have searched for the meaning of chingu many times but never got the answer. well thanx again. i am from bhopal, mp.

  4. vipin says:

    good information , i am shocked as i purchased it 4 days back, so i cannot tell realty to my wife she must enjoy it, but manali administration must take action against them as they are creating bad experience to tourist , an ruining the tourist revenue of state

  5. mamun says:

    good information, I had been that place during the end of may and shopkeeps were just carzy in selling those chingu. Thanks god I did not buy one.

  6. SURYA PARKASH KWATRA says:

    WE PAID 600 ONOY AT THE SHOP BUT AFTER READING A LOT ON INTERNET I ASKED THE SHOPKEEPER ON PHONE WHERE AND TO WHOM TO GIVE BACK THE CHINGU HE TOLD ME THAT IT CAN BE RETURNED AT PRAGATI MAIDAN WHEN I ASKED AT WHAT ADDRESS HE REPLIED AT TRADE FAIR ON JAMMU AND KASHMIR STALL. I ASKED FOR TEL NO OF THE OFFICE IN JAMMU HE GAVE ME TWO MOBILE NOS ONE OF THE NO DOESNOT EXIST AND THE OTHER NO WORKS I CALLED AND ASK THE PERSON FOR HIS ADDRESS HE TOLD ME 36 RAGHUNATH BAZAR. I ASKED FOR LANDLINE NO HE REPLIED EVERYBODY NOW A DAYS IS HAVING MOBILES. I UNDERSTAND IT IS BETTER TO LEAVE 600 INSTEAD OF SPEMDING RS 6500 MORE
    THANKS TO INTERNET I SAVE RS 6500

  7. Shakti says:

    Yesterday (12th March’11), I was also made fool with this chingu blanket scheme. They had taken 10800/- for chingu blanket (including 6 gifts). I am very upset and feeling sad that why i didn’t searched on internet about chingu blanket before buying them.

    One thing I am really not understanding why admistration/police are not taking any action against them because they are also using the fake (J&K handloom name )documents as a proof to convience customers.

  8. Preeti says:

    Thanks to god i really saved my money

    I had been Manali last week only and shopkeeps were just carzy in selling those chingu. Thanks god I did not buy one.

  9. Udayachandran says:

    True, Bhaaji. For the number of blankets they are selling, HP must have quite a sizeable population of those CHINGUS, and itz sad that I couldn’t see any of those Chingus. They were also telling that the wool starts growing once you start using it, and you can bring back and get the extra long hairs shaven off and lo and behold, you start earning from using the CHINGU blankets too. Thatz a fne idea. isn’t it. Buy a Chingu, you start earning and you return the material and you get back twice or perhaps thrice what you paid when yu bought. How nice!!!!!!

  10. hi this is prashant i & my wife rescently visited kullu we we amazed with the scheme they offered, but instead of taking those gifts we took 4 chingus for 35200, i paid 7000 by card & the balance 28200 was to be paid at the delivery of the blankets the blankets arrived after several calls which i made to them & unfortunately i paid the DD to the gati courier guy when i checked the material it looked lucerative as it dd in the shop & i tried testing it when i burnt a few (so called hair) they smelled plastic looked the same way plastic items burn i was shocked then i read these articles & i forced my bank t ostop payment of the DD & to my luck it could be done. i saved my 28200 rs i would request if you people can get in touch with me on my email (prash_medh@yahoo.co.in) i can ***** the himachal tourisim board itself for encouraging such dirty tactics

  11. sumit says:

    Hi,

    I also visited Manali recently and cought by so called Chingu Thugs. I have paid Rs 1500 in advance and remaining 7400/- have to pay at VPP.

    But after discussions with driver and other local ppl I am going to reject the VPP.

    Be cautious by those lucrative offers.

  12. naveen says:

    hi friends this is navnie i had visited to patnitop near nag mandir with my friends few days ago there i saw a shop which is selling chingu at the name of small chicken of bulbul. they say to us that it is not compulsary to purchase it only for a look. we saw and we like it mostly i ordered him with advance of 800 rs. but when we saw the statement on internet about chingu blanket. i had made a call to that shopkeeper and say that i don’t want your chingu. take it yourself.
    Thanks friends as per your statement i save my 8000 thousand rupees. thanks

  13. Vipul says:

    We went to Shimla, and shopkeepers (two different places, first shop at Naldhera and second one at Chinni Bungalow, kufri) both of them gave us the same scheme 16800 for 1 blanket + 5 gift items, we liked them because of texture and quality, but didn’t find them worthy for the money and the concept of keeping you warm in winters and cool in summers (as it defies the concept of physics), it was hard to digest. But finally we decided not to put 16K and didn’t buy it. Happy for not buying it.

  14. VYAPAR MANDAL MANALI says:

    We traders of Manali request our respectful tourist guest that please be aware of these CHINGU THAGS who are outside of Himachal and spoiling the good will of area.

  15. dawa says:

    the CHINGU sellers are not himachali they are all from jammu and kashmir so take care yourself from not buying chingus…….

  16. Jai Vyas says:

    Yes i have purchased coz my wife and even I life likes that blanket and shawl so much as it’s really too soft and nice design, yup i agree they are making fool by using word CHINGU or we can also say its good marketing trick to sell.

    Before putting order i was aware that there is no such CHINGU animal in this world, i was knew it it’s normal woolen shawl and blankets, but i really say it’s worth-full to buy, coz if we buy simple & good bedsheet it goes around +500 bugs, Shawl +400 bugs, Stoles +500 good woolen shawl +2000 and again it depends on quality.

    I have purchased in 13500 (3 full size set of Blanket+Bedsheet+ pillow cover, 2 full size set of Bedsheet + Blanket, 2 Big Blanket which they called chingu, 3 shawls, 2 Stoles, 1 carpet, all above products we are using it in daily use.

    I dont think so they fooled me 🙂

  17. Rashi says:

    Just got saved by not getting cheated from this chingu nuisance. Thanks to the internet and everybody’s valuable feedback. We visited naldhera on our trip to shimla. We experienced the same way as mentioned above…..i think this is their main modus operandi.

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