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Ask the Locals

Strangers on the street often ask me questions.  And not just at home -- I've been asked for directions in Paris, my opinion of a restaurant in Rome, and the time in New Delhi.  I do my best to respond, language and jet lag permitting, but most of the time the question would be better answered by a local. 

My instinctive trust in local knowledge was unintentionally confirmed by a recent feature in the New York Times, which asked tourists to recommend their favorite bites of the Big Apple.  At least the reporter had the wisdom (or perhaps the legal good sense) to be skeptical of some of the advice:

The recommendation by Mr. Fox’s wife, Barbara, was a bit dicier than the restaurant pick. Her favorite activity was buying knock-off purses in backrooms of Canal Street stores. (Weekend in New York does not endorse such activity but did not want to restrict her freedom of speech, so will note that she got a $3,400 Louis Vuitton purse (or something like one) for $80.)

Of course, freedom of speech does not guarantee Ms. Fox the right to speak in the pages of the Times, or indeed to advocate illegal activity at all.  But her response does raise another question:  The next time a tourist asks me how to get to Canal Street, should I graciously point her in the wrong direction?