Indian tourists, are we rude? I know it is better to stay away from generalizations but a few events in the past made me think about it; again and again. However, it started a long time ago, 2003 to be precise. And here I go, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride … err rant!
Can We Form a Queue?
I was boarding a flight from Zurich to New Delhi in 2003. I am very lazy to board. I already have an allotted seat, the plane is unlikely to leave me and go. I am usually one of the last people to board the plane, when the queue has dwindled down. So, I was sitting in a seat watching whatever it was, it didn’t even vaguely resembled a queue. I then heard ground staff muttering, “it always happens on flights to India!” I was new to traveling then, it took me by surprise. But really, I mean really are we that insecure or whatever else it signifies. Why can’t form a queue to board a plane? I was not traveling to Switzerland though, I was a transit passenger from Italy.
Aggression Will Solve All Our Problems?
This happened more recently on a trip to Thailand. It was a media/travel agent trip. We were having lunch at a five star hotel. It was in a smaller town. There was no Indian food but we had plenty of vegetarian options. Someone didn’t like the hotel’s way of doing pasta. OK so you didn’t like the pasta! Eat something else. Ask them to do another plate for you the way you want it, don’t recommend the hotel to your clients but no, it has to be a scene where a hotel staff is left in tears!
You Bought the Services, Not the Person
On every trip something might go wrong, however carefully it is planned. I have planned trips myself and I have never been able to plan a perfect one till date. The same is true, if someone else was planning it for me. But I bought the services, I did not buy the person delivering the services. I thought it was easy distinction to make, but I have been proven wrong, time and again! The amount of cribbing I have seen on some trips, it makes me wonder, why even bother to get out in the first place?
Dignity of Labor- Is it That Hard to Understand?
We are a labor surplus nation, we are a deeply hierarchical society. Should we assume the same of every other nation we visit? Heck if you arrive late, some hotels or hostels will not even have a check-in staff, forget about a bell boy!
Similarly someone who is waiting on a table is doing his/her job. If a lot of Indians are rude to them, they assume every Indian is, and they give me the same cold, indifferent treatment. Boy I resent it! It takes a long time for them to realize that I am not rude in spite of being an Indian. And I blame all of you who snap your fingers at them!
Is Being Nice Not an Indian Trait?
I have often been asked in malls in Asia, if I am Sri Lankan because I was nice to the shopkeepers. I joked with them, if I was alone I asked for their opinion about something I was planning to buy. I say ‘thank you’ when I walk off. So why do they presume I am a Sri Lankan? I don’t like it one bit.
Paying for the Minibar- Where is the Mystery in This?
If the mini bar is used, one has to pay. If it is a really big hotel, they will anyway put your credit card on hold. If a customer walks off without paying, the credit card gets charged, fairly standard procedure the world over I believe. I once stayed in a large hotel that was popular with Indians. It had a lot of other nationalities too, but a lot of us as well. They would physically verify every room for the items consumed. You can imagine the delay at the check-out. This was when they had put the credit card on hold too. My mind boggles at what might be the reason but why do I think that having a lot of Indian guests has got something to do with it.
And this is nothing compared to some of the stories I have heard about Indian men and their habits of answering the call of nature!
What do you say? Am I being paranoid? Or do you think we need to shape up?
In 2012 about 100000 Indians visited South Africa. According to Country Head, India for South Africa Tourism Hanneli Slabber India features in the top ten important markets for South Africa. When the tourism minister Mr, Marthinus Christoffel Johannes van Schalkwyk inaugurated INDABA 2013 he put 20 years of tourism in South Africa in perspective. He said-
“In 1993, the country received just over 3,4 million international arrivals. In 2012, we witnessed over 13 million international arrivals, of which some nine million were international tourists visiting our shores.” adding that “But, of course, this did not just fall into our laps.”
South African can offer a diverse range of tourism experiences ranging from adventure, culture, food, wine trails, marine to name a few but even then it would be difficult to dislodge the wildlife and the Big 5 experience from the prime position it holds. The Big 5 are lion, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinos.
Up Close with Elephants at Tintswalo Safari Lodge, South Africa
At INDABA 2013 I interacted with many game reserves to know their opinion on Indian Tourists. It was family and food dominated our talks.
The lodges like Singita, Shamwari, Morukuru Family and Londolozi felt that when it came to Indian tourists family was important. The definition of family was also slightly different it could range from ages 1 to 60 or more. Initially many of the lodges had a no child policy. But most that consider India as an important market are opening their doors to families in a big way. There may still be an age limi for going on a safari but the lodges make efforts engage the kids while the adults have gone on a safari. Some of these programs involve interacting with local kids as well. Shamwari has a program for children as young as 4 and above.
The other most talked about theme in context of the Indian tourists was food and we can easily understand why. Not only they know about our vegetarian preferences they also talked about Jain cuisine. Some of the lodges may adjust the dinner time as we Indians tend to eat later in the evening. Also on offer is to enter the kitchen and make your own meal if you fancy at select lodges. For the Indian families that do not like to go for the early morning game drives, they would start the safaris later. So when it comes to tourism experience in South Africa customization seems to be the key! And this is just an add on to the bewitching wildlife experience in South Africa.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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