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The Curious Case Of The Indian Tourist

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****Long post ahead****

Let's face it, not all of us needed the Bali video to show us how Indian tourists are actually like. I do agree that not all Indians are like that, but a large sect surely are. While the debate is on that not only Indians are bad tourists, most people claim that all Asians are, since my knowledge is only limited to the Indian clan, I'll talk about them. To start with, Tripoto recently put out an article which said that Indians do not travel to explore, but to show off their social status. I would agree to that to a large extent. You don't believe me? Take a look at your social media accounts to see the multitude of check-ins and pictures! It is really sad that something as refreshing, educating and life-changing as travel is reduced to a check-in or an album. The purpose of travel, unless it is work related, should only be to explore and have a good time.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's talk about how Indians behave while on a holiday. My first experience with this so called Indianness was when I was on a flight from Dubai to Bangalore as part of my work travel eight years ago. Before this, I had had a nine hour flight to Dubai and that was peaceful and uneventful, as there were hardly any Indians on board. On the flight back to Bangalore from Dubai, I was in for a rude shock. An Indian gentleman in his forties was seated ahead of me and we all boarded successfully. There still was time for the take-off and the staff were yet to give the mandatory instructions. This man called for the air-hostess and asked for food. We had just boarded, mind you. She politely told him that it would take time as the meals would only be served after take-off and when they were safe in the air. Emirates takes care of its passengers excellently, well, only if they can hold on to their horses. This person created a ruckus including stating the amount that he had paid to procure that ticket. The air-hostess tried her best to handle the situation and brought him some snacks to munch on but he just threw them back on her tray and asked for "proper" food. Well, many people had to intervene before this person could shut up. It wasn't a pleasant sight, trust me.

Indians are very badly behaved on flights, let alone in another country. They take a thousand pictures oblivious to the others around them, talk loudly, let their children wander around the plane, call for the steward multiple times, take forever in the toilet and what not. They don't understand that this is not normal behavior and how many people are getting affected by this. The go to statement for Indians has been "I have paid for this", no matter what the question is. I recall another incident where an elderly lady was seated next to me on a pretty long flight. She got up to use the loo every 30 minutes or so. Unfortunately for me, I was seated on the aisle and I had to get up every time she did. I had to pause my movie every time she did that. I politely asked her if she'd like to switch seats instead, so that it would be easier for both of us. "I have paid for a window seat, why would I give it to you" was the response I got. At that point I wasn't even sure if you had to pay extra to get a window seat. I still am not.

Let us not even talk about how Indians behave when the flight finally lands. What's the hurry for them to get out, I never know. I agree this trait is not only limited to the Indians, but Indians seem to be leading the race here.

There is a reason, a valid one at that as to why we Indians aren't treated well while we are outside the country. We are often looked upon with disgust or suspicion. I'd like to quote an example from our own country first. At a flea market in Goa, I was looking at a pair of earrings priced at 150 rupees. I asked the Indian sales woman to give me a discount. I'll be honest here, I suck at bargaining. I ask for a discount once, without quoting a price, and then go ahead with whatever they ask from me, discount or not. But, I was in a surprise this time. Instead of telling me "No discount", this woman chose to tell me that they never quote a high price for Indian customers as they will not pay it. I was so embarrassed! I paid 150 bucks, picked the earring and walked away. If this is the case within the country, imagine how it would be outside.

One question before I go on. Have you found friendly Indians when you travel abroad? While some talk to you or at least offer you a smile, most of them try to avoid you and look away. Almost every Indian we ran into in Europe were like that. They gave us the "How come you can afford this?" look and walked away. I still remember asking for an Indian man to take a picture of my husband and me in front of the "I Amsterdam" sign. He was so hostile and unfriendly but accepted like he was doing us a favor. We gave him the camera and posed for the pictures. He walked up to us to say "I have taken 5 or 6" and walked away without accepting our thank you! At least we got the pictures, you'd say, but no! Not one picture had us in focus, it could have been anybody! We just deleted them and moved on.

Shortly after this wonderful incident, we were waiting for our hop-on hop-off bus at the designated stop. A senior English couple were waiting with us and there was small talk. The minute they realized that we were from India, they asked me if I was working in IT. When I answered with an affirmative, the man said "Ah you must be here on work then". My husband quickly pointed out that we were here on a vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary, he said "Really? Vacation? IT must be doing good then." We didn't know what to say after that. They continued though, about how on a vacation to India, their car was blocked by a cow, blah blah blah and more blah.

My husband and I are the ones who look for offbeat experiences when we travel, but we are often met with shocked faces. We have had people tell us that "Indians normally don't do this as it is expensive" more often than not. Even in a country like Sri Lanka where the currency is half of ours, they look down upon us for the way we behave. I remember going for a tour of a tea estate and in the end they gave us a glass of tea as a sample. There were Indians asking for multiple cups! They even asked to look at all the teas on sale. They checked the leaves with their bare hands, put it up their nose to smell it, crumpled it and then walked away without buying anything. This is not new to us Indians I know, but should we do it when we are not in our own country?

Now coming to the Bali video. Before that let's take a look at the notice put out to Indians by a Swiss hotel. As much as I want to call out to them, I tend to agree with what they had to say. If Indian's can behave absurd on a plane, imagine what they'd do at a luxury hotel or any hotel for that matter. Honestly, I wasn't very shocked when the Bali video came out. Indians tend to think that once they have paid for something, everything around it is their birthright! Nothing like a buffet spread to bring out the real colors of people. Piling on plates, leaving it half-eaten, fighting for the dishes that are over, wrapping food in tissue papers and stuffing it in their bags, not knowing how to use cutlery and making a mess of it are only a few examples that come to mind now. Even if their lack of etiquette when it comes to food can be ignored, stealing is a big no no! It is okay to take the toiletries, the ones kept out for you. Having said that, it is not right to call housekeeping and ask them to refill your soaps and shampoos multiple times a day! Let's not be inspired by Ross and Chandler here.

Soap dispensers, towels, decorative items, slippers, bath gowns, iron boxes etc are a property of the hotel and you can use them while you are staying there. They are not meant to be yours for life! How hard is it to understand that?

We have traveled to many countries and not once have we had our bags checked! I doubt if that will be the case henceforth. I guess everyone holding an Indian passport will now be checked thanks to a brilliant example being set.

Have you had any such incidents happen to you? Or around you?


  1. You've put it perfectly Sou. It is just a month and a half since I've come here. I've had little talks with other nationals over Indians. My neighbor is a polish woman and when we started talking, she said she was surprised that both of us could converse well in English. I couldn't find a suitable reply, but I just asked her what she thought about Indians! She just smiled and said, nice talking with you. Indians choose not to smile much at other Indians and I'm honestly wondering why!!

    Now I know why we were asked to show our tickets yesterday. It's the first since I came here. It felt miserable. Oh, you are an Indian, you must be checked double-checked. I've heard that some people don't swipe their cards in trains in the name of saving money. There's more like you've said, but it pricks me to be looked down at.

    1. Hahaha I've got that "How come you speak such good English enough number of times now"!

      Some people mess it up for all of us, trust me.

  2. Oh wow this is one heartfelt post Somz and I feel every bit of it in the same way that you do. I agree on all the points about Indian tourists. Its shameful to see how we are when we are out in some other country and the self entitlement that we proceed to exhibit.

    The flight passengers are the worst - I get a lot of dirty looks as I dont get up the moment the plan lands - infact I wait till 80% of the plane de-boards before I start collecting my things. Plus point of doing this that by the time I reach the baggage carousel, my luggage is just coming off while I can see all those who jumped up at the word go, loitering about waiting for theirs ;-)

    1. Terribly shameful!

      I de-board last always, I just waltz out without having to pause every second or so :P

  3. Agree with every line ! We also got the 'How could you afford this' looks at Switzerland !

  4. I swear, Soumya. It is embarrassing almost all the times. Our experience when in Thailand was similar too. Watching Indians go after a buffet as if they haven't eaten food for months, busy with photoshoots while the entire speedboat is waiting for their return to continue the island hopping, gosh! It was terrible. And don't get me started about the flight passengers! Phew! Also, I dont know, P always calls somebody from the hotel staff to check the room before we check out. I think that's extreme, but he has this habit, thanks to Fauji customs. Hehe. But in a way, that's good, I guess.
    Much-needed write up!!

    1. Ah buffets and photoshoots! Embarrassing to no end.

  5. Money can't buy class and unfortunately it's true for Indians and yes a lot of asian tourists. It's embarrassing. Sometimes I am happy people don't recognize me as Indian. Haha saves me from being judged. They have a very bad name for their shoddy work in IT here and a bad name as tourists. I don't know if it's the Indian upbringing of paisa waisooling out of everything that makes them do what they do. As for selfie, Indians are only second to Chinese tourists. I didn't watch the bali video, just read the title. Boy! Too much of embarrassment for me to handle.

    Note: yes unfortunately you need to buy a window seat.

    1. Money definitely can't buy class :D

      Lucky you! Do watch the video for a cringe of a life time.

      I've had window seats without paying extra many times so this never occurred to me.


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