The tactics above also work well against touts and "looky-looky men" - that is, the numerous salesmen in touristy areas who will approach you and recommend you peruse their hand-held wares and maybe buy this genuine gold Rolex, no really, it's the real deal, it's got an R engraved on it and everything, only fell off the back of the lorry an hour ago, but for you, my friend? Twenty euros.
Anyway, both these sorts of people are a constant annoyance in certain cities, but of the few European capitals I've been to, none have been more filled with salesmen and touts than Prague. So, for your consideration, here are a few tactics me and my friends used in order to walk the streets of Prague unmolested. Please note that these tips only work in groups of three or more (at least, so far as I've seen - feel free to experiment).
- While walking, look straight ahead. If you see someone who is likely to be a tout, look dead ahead until you get closer to them, perhaps about ten feet. If you think they're going to bother you, simply tear your gaze away from the horizon, meet their glance with a blank look, and grimly hold it for about a second. Then look away. I guarantee you, this always, always works if you have the right look on your face - that is, uninterested and possibly irritable. Nobody will bother you if they think you might bother them back.
- Be silent. If you talk happily amongst your friends while walking, touts are more likely to think you'll be polite to them, even if you decline their offers. If, however, you all walk in complete silence, touts are more likely to think you're all miserable bastards and won't dare bother you.
- Emit those vibes. Everyone knows how to do this. All you have to do is spread that sort of "I-want-everyone-around-me-to-die-horribly" atmosphere around you, preferably in about a ten-foot radius, in a similar fashion to the third step above. This is perhaps the most effective of all the tips in this writeup, with the one caveat that you have to be in a bad mood - or just an utterly miserable fucker - to pull it off.
- 24/08/07: Additionally, liveforever was kind enough to send me a tried and tested technique of his own: 'I like to don what I think of as the "psycho killer eyes". Nobody bothers me when it is obvious that I'm thinking of how to get past them without going round them, and not being concerned with bloodshed in the course of the journey. Very effective.'"
If you are unfortunate enough to be hassled by touts and looky-looky men despite using these tactics, there's one weapon left in your arsenal. As they begin their spiel about the spectacular Darling Cabaret with the best strippers in the city and five free beers for a paltry cover charge, or whatever shite they happen to be peddling, simply glance uninterestedly at them out of the corner of your eye as they follow you and interrupt them with a well-placed "No thanks mate." Touts respond positively to interest; if you act like you could not possibly care any less about what they're selling, they'll abandon you as a lost cause and leave you alone. In fact, if you spend a lot of time around the areas where touts congregate, the more intelligent members of their elite society will recognise you as a dead loss and leave you alone permanently. Others may eventually decide to do the same. We became so proficient at this that by the end of our two week long holiday, we could walk down the whole of Wenceslas Square without being accosted by anyone, at all.
But only on one side of the street, of course. Sigh.