The world's most interesting tour guide

Ravi's a great guy, but he's clearly a liar. It's not the first time I've been lied to in India, what with all the rickshaw drivers who reckon my hotel has closed or spontaneously combusted in the past half-hour, and the guy on the street who said yes, he could certainly give me directions to where I wanted to go. (No one will ever admit to you that, no, they have absolutely no idea where you want to go. So they just make something up. It's quite nice, in a way.)

Ravi's lies are innocent little white lies, though - the kind that aren't going to do anyone any real harm. They've been oozing out of him during the past few days, finding their way into casual conversation, working themselves slowly into my consciousness.

According to Ravi, he's the world's most interesting tour guide. It starts with a few casual references to his parents, who seem to have a lot of money. They live in a mansion or a castle or a fort of some kind in Rajasthan, and his dad is extremely high up in the government.

They've got money to burn. Lots of fancy cars and overseas holidays.

Uh huh, sure Ravi. So why are you down here in southern India, a whole world away from home, working as a guide for Intrepid? Why are you schlepping around on public transport when you could be living large on daddy's rupees?

Still, Ravi's a top bloke, so you don't call him out on it. You just go along with the stories.

And Ravi's a killer tour guide, too. The guy's been doing this for years and he knows his stuff, so there's no need to try to impress with outlandish stories.

A few days after the parent stuff, Ravi lets slip that he's got a girlfriend. An English girl, he says, from a similarly well-off family. She lived with him in the mansion or castle or fort of some kind in Rajasthan for a while, but she's decided to move back home for a while now.

Yep, sure she has, Ravi. She just doesn't call or text at all, right?

Thing is, I kind of understand these travelling lies. I've been known to stretch the truth myself when I'm far away from home with no one to contradict me.

I've quite often been a surfer, because I'm Australian and that's what's expected of us and it impresses people. In reality I can surf about as well as I can explain quantum physics, but who's going to know?

So that's why I'm going easy on Ravi. Soon, we're sitting on a train near Madurai, with plenty of time to chat because the train has stopped and we're not going anywhere any time soon.

Ravi's talking about home again, brushing his longish hair away from his eyes, grinning as he puts his feet on the seat in front of him and waxes lyrical.

He's OK as a cricketer, he says, a decent fast bowler who can take a wicket when it's needed. But his real sport is polo, the genteel English game that still has a following in the upper echelons of Indian society.

Ravi plays for Rajasthan. He has to leave his tour-guiding job for a few weeks each year to play in the Indian championships.

Whoa, this is getting out of hand. This, people could disprove. If I claimed to play cricket for Australia, my travelling buddies would figure me out pretty quickly. Ravi's taking a big punt.

And he isn't finished, either. His cousin, he says, just got married in a Rajasthani fort, one of those places that people have to pay a lot of money just to view, let alone occupy for their nuptials. But his family has contacts. The bride arrived by elephant, allegedly. There were Bollywood stars in attendance, supposedly.

At what point, I'm thinking, is enough going to be enough here? Can I subtly tell him to tone it down a little?

But then the unthinkable happens. "Hey," Ravi says, smiling one of those charming smiles of his, pulling a laptop out of his bag. "Do you want to see some photos?"

"Um, sure."

So Ravi fires up his computer and starts flicking through the albums. You know, the ones with shots of him with his parents in their Rajasthani mansion or castle or fort of some kind. It's beautiful.

And there's Ravi with his girlfriend, who certainly looks English. And there he is in Rajasthani polo colours, horse in full flight below him as he swings a mallet.

And there's his cousin's wedding, with the fort and the elephants and the Bollywood stars.

Ravi's legit. He's the world's most interesting tour guide. He's a great guy, and a fairly rich, important guy - and he's clearly not a liar. Oops.

Have you ever made assumptions about someone you met while travelling that turned out to be wrong? Post and comment below and share it with us.