In the last few years, Indians have been travelling abroad like never before. On vacations, for jobs, on business trips, on incentive tours, for studies, to meet their kids and the like. So, travelling abroad is no longer a “class divide” in India as it was a couple of decades ago. So far so good. But along with this, it has also brought to the fore another race called the “Noisy Indian traveler” – one who lacks the basic etiquette.
Last night on my return flight from Beijing to Mumbai via Bangkok, all was well in the 1st leg till Bangkok with very few of us Indians in the flight. But in the 2nd leg, it was a full house from Bangkok to Mumbai with many returning Indians on the plane. Just as we settled down in our seats, ruckus started with 3/4 passengers from Gujarat talking and laughing loudly non-stop. Quite obviously they were under the influence of alcohol and repeating among themselves the same lines one being – Aap, Mein aur Bagpiper!!! They were refusing to take their seats and finally one of the crew members had to politely but firmly request them to settle down so that the flight can take off. The guys settled down after getting commitment on their share of Whisky and Vodka once the flight takes off!!! While this was going on, the rest of us were squirming in our seats with embarrassment.
Was this an isolated episode? Nope. Few months ago on a Srilankan Airways flight from Colombo to Chennai, the situation was similar. This time with a few raucous folks who are called “Kuruvis” doing the odd courier jobs. For almost 40 minutes after boarding the plane, a group of 20 guys were stuffing and re-stuffing their bags, littering the cabin, arguing with the cabin staff who were asking them to put the baggage in the overhead cabin and carrying out business transactions loudly literally exchanging notes before they were all forced to settle down by a harried crew. Once the flight took off and the “fasten your seat belts” sign went off, these guys were back on their feet trying to pack/unpack their stuff once again!!! Followed by the usual haggling for hard drinks and more and more peanuts on that very short one hour flight!!!
Not just in the planes. We Indians are noisy and create a furore everywhere we travel. Like I saw once a group of Indian tourists at Sentosa, Singapore waiting for the elevator among many tourists of different nationalities suddenly starting a loud countdown. Much to the chagrin of those waiting there and embarrassment of fellow Indians!
I can go on and on with more such episodes. You get the drift anyway.
I am now told that in places like Singapore, Thailand, … which are increasingly popular with the Noisy Indian traveler – the local tourist agencies are wary and have started to handout a set of Does and Don’ts to Indians which include of course being on time and being less noisy. And it seems Airlines have separate training modules on how to handle rogue passengers from this part of the world!
Is this lout behavior – a culture thing? Or a “GDP” thing? Or a literate illiterate thing? Or a combination?? I find it difficult to comprehend and conclude either way.
The Chinese I find also are generally noisy people. They talk loudly among themselves. But I don’t see them behaving like we do while travelling.
I am certain that this behavior has nothing to do with the “Education” thing – for many of the fellow travelers I see are certainly not the illiterate variety. These are all educated folks but with no life education!
Has this got to do with the economic growth of a country? In the sense as a country gets better with economic growth, do these kind of behavior come down? Probably. But, am not sure.
So in India we have a dual problem. One is to get people to behave well “with” tourists in India so they leave with a lasting positive impression about our country. The other is to get people to behave well “as” tourists when they travel! I think both are important. In the end, “we the people” are the brand ambassadors of the so called Incredible India! As of now, the brand ambassadors are doing a lousy job for sure!
In any case, it is high time etiquette training is brought in as part of our curriculum in schools and we try to mend behavior while young. At home we as parents must give equal importance to “up bringing” as much as “bringing up” our kids!! Lest the world will soon label the Noisy Indian traveler as lousy too and slam the doors!
17 thoughts on “The Noisy Indian Traveller!”
Well said, Anand. Some of the basic trainings that we miss in our schools are – How not to be a pain to the others, How to treat the opposite gender as an equal, How to manage money and How to keep the place clean. Unless these are drilled into the heads of the kids, we’d continue to feel embarrassed.
BTW – where would a poor (!) Gujarati get Whisky! He’s denied his freedom of intoxication within the state.
I saw something similar here in bay area yesterday. An Indian store had kept two cans of Masala Chai outside their premises as a complementary refreshment for the buyers. There was a bin to drop the paper cups too. And there was a request to not carry the cup inside the store. In the 15-20 minutes, I was waiting for my colleagues to finish shopping, two cups were thrown outside the bin; almost 50% of the people took the cup inside.
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Hi TRS, Thanks for your value add. You make some very good points here reg. the need to drill while young!!! Thanks once again!
Anand – Great one again …I think the same (not as much cringe-worthy) is the loud american Traveler in say japan…most of this comes out of ignorance and lack of respect and recognition of the environment. I also feel this might be one of sudden affluence …once has not become used to the experience …
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Thanks Arun for your feedback. As always I appreciate the same. I have also seen some unruly behaviour from the Westerners, but I deliberately kept that out of this piece as in any case we have a long way to go to mend ourselves and as you will agree others’ behaviour is no excuse for ours!
Good one Anand..Clear and concise… I have experienced the same on the short haul flights into India from Thailand or Malaysia or Singapore. It is because of the attitude towards the flight being assumed as a free bar by the travelling Indians, no matter what is the situation. In one instance, I noticed the air hostess in tears, seated at the tail end of the flight and I asked her whether all is well with her.. she said the short haul flight into India is termed as a punishment flight but she never expected Indians to behave so bad.. so many bell calls for alcohol…. In another instance a young anna or thambi of our’s asked me to collect the beer on his behalf and not to refuse as I told him that I do not consume alcohol on high altitudes and would rather prefer juices to keep me hydrated..!
It is a matter of culture and the Europeans and Japanese the best… Surprisingly, i did not see the same behaviour on the short haul flights from Dubai to chennai on emirates.. still trying to fathom why?
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Thanks Ramesh! Looks like there is an emerging pattern. And I tried to incorporate your feedback! Thanks once again!
This post is really good and lot of lessons to be learnt from it!
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Going to be a difficult task to to tame both the categories of people of this Incredible India. 😀
But, things have to begin form somewhere.
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Thank you Durga Prasad for the read and comment! Yes some beginning needs to be made!
Oh hell yes! If you are flying from US to India, the last leg of the flight feels like a bhaaji mandi. They don’t form lines to board, only crowd. As soon as the flight lands, they will simply get up and wait for 10-15 min crowded in the aisle. I just stay put and refuse to leave my seat until the person 3 rows in front not starts leaving. They will stand in groups of 2-3 near the plane restroom chatting in the dark while people are trying to sleep until the air hostess reminds them it is not allowed. Aaargh!
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Front row* starts leaving.
Unfortunately true stories!!! Thanks for reading and commenting!
This is a great article and truly agree to it. Being an Indian we get the education that supports us to make a living, but when it comes to generosity or mannerism, we lack much compared to other nationalities.
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Very helpful advice within this post! It’s the little changes that make the most important changes.
Thanks for sharing!
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