Bizarre Indian Traveler
Travel is the new obsession of Indians. Increasingly more and more Indians are going on international vacations. Now Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Mauritius, and Switzerland are passé. Iceland, South Africa, Croatia, and New Zealand are trending destinations for Indians. The craze is visible across all age groups, but has the Indian tourist evolved?
Indian traveler has always been labeled as being unruly, loud, and bizarre. And most of us will agree that there is some truth in this statement. As soon as they board the plane, they begin behaving oddly. It is common to observe Indians asking people to move seats on a plane so that they can sit together. They talk across aisles, stand in the pathway, yell on the phone, and generally make life difficult for everyone.
The real nightmare starts when it is time to eat. Most of us, understandably, believe that plane food is unfit for consumption and bring food from home. In this scenario, the packed food turns out to be a complete disaster. The plane’s interiors are quickly filled with the aromas of Thepla, paratha, pickles, Bhujia, and Indian spices, much to the dismay of the airline employees. To add to the misery, the benevolent souls decide to distribute the food to other members of their group who are seated in different rows, oblivious to the fact that they are leaving crumbs on the heads of the harassed co-passengers who are not part of the feast.
Need I say more? The Indian passengers drink too much, are too demanding, and don’t follow instructions. Can you blame others for thinking the worst about us?
Our obsession with eating drives us to indulge in more eccentric activities. Behind the facade of local food being too bland and pricey, we resort to cooking Maggi and Pulao in the electric kettle or chopping veggies in the hotel room to make Bhel Puri. You can imagine the subsequent mess. How many of us have been guilty of taking croissants, apples, or muffins from the complimentary breakfast and stashing them for later consumption? I’ve seen folks use the breakfast spread to make sandwiches, wrap it in tissues, and stuff it inside their bags. If we think we’re smart and no one notices, we’re deluding ourselves.
The way we act in the hotel is extremely odd. We believe it is quite acceptable to wash your laundry in the tub or washbasin and hang the garments to dry all around the room with water dripping on the carpet, much to the dismay of the cleaning crew. Aside from shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries, we feel that towels, bathrobes, ashtrays, and hair dryers should all be carried with you when you leave.
We need to learn proper etiquette and discipline. Indians don’t understand the concept of standing in a queue, whether at immigration, security, or the ticket counter. We dislike tipping, and if we do not receive good service, we become offensive and aggressive. Our love for bargaining can become embarrassing. We try to bargain everywhere, including in malls and boutiques.
Our main issue is that we are extremely loud and inconsiderate of those around us. Last year, I was in Boston for a wedding, and the neighbors complained about the noise for three nights in a row. Nobody cared, and the music continued to play until the early hours of the morning. Our hosts felt that loud noises are unavoidable at weddings and that people should be more understanding. Is it really so difficult to understand that this isn’t India and that the people there aren’t familiar with our culture and traditions?
There’s a lot more. We litter all over the place and still haven’t figured out how to use the restroom. The list is never-ending and lots of us have been guilty of behaving in an outlandish way when we are holidaying. As a result, Indian tourists are bad news for the majority of hotels, airports, and tourist destinations. We don’t realize that when we cross our borders, we are representing India, and our actions are generalized and attributed to the entire country. Can we strive to be more mindful the next time we board a plane for our next trip? When foreign visitors come to India, we expect them to respect our customs, but what about us? Have you ever wondered about the cultural shocks we experience when we travel?