The Noisy Indian Traveller!

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!

My close encounters with “Mamas”!!!

First the disclosure:  This post was inspired by another post I recently stumbled upon among the deluge of shares which hit one’s timeline in the social media daily– “The Ascent of the Maami” – Read here. I liked it and thought why not I write one on my encounters with the mamis’ counterpart namely the “Mama”. Also I wanted to take a break from Aam Admi and write on “Mama/Mami” 🙂

Second the definition:  In Tamil brahminical parlance, any male above the teenage threshold who cannot be tied in with any other description like Anna (elder brother), Chittappa (uncle), Thatha (Grandfather), Cousin,… is called a “Mama”.  Its’ important to note here that once you are called a mama you are no more a teenager and vice versa.

Third the disclaimer: This post on mamas in general has nothing to do with “my” mamas. This is about mamas in general. Hence the above definition needs to be understood in perspective 🙂 🙂

In my last 40 years or so, en(noda)counters with mamas have been very many. At home sometimes but mostly in social functions like marriages or common gatherings like Avani Avittam, Temple pooja,..,.. Based on these interactions, the mamas can be grouped as under:

  • Question Killer: Like serial killers, these mamas have the ability to almost kill you with their serial questions. When you see them, its’ almost like interrogation. Kelvi kette saagadippanga intha mamas
  • “Hello – Eppo vandha? (When did you come?)
    • Just now
  • Eppadi vandha? (How did you come?)
    • In my car
  • Athe car thane, illa puthusu vaanginiya? (That same car or you bought a new one?)
    • The same car
  • Wife varaliya? (Wife didn’t come??)
    • No she didn’t.
  • Enna Veetukku Vellilaya??? (Has she got her periods???)
    • 😠 😠

                   You then force nature to call you and slip out

  • Mama Konjam toilet poyitu varen (I’ll just go to the toilet and come)
  • No. 1 or No. 2???
    • 😠 😠 (to yourself – Vidave maattaar polarukku intha manushan)
  •  Perfection personified mama: For these mamas, everything needs to be perfect. Nothing short of that.  Your living in this planet is a waste if you don’t do things with utmost perfection. If you get caught with this type in some occasion, the next day you will have to attend some HR course to boost your self-confidence. Becoz in 1 hour he will find 100 faults in everything you do and shatter your ego and self-confidence.

    • Ennappa veshitya ippadiyaa kattarathu? (Do you wear your dhoti like this??)
    • 11 o’ clock ku pujai, medhuva 11.05 kku varaye?? (The puja is at 11.00 o’ clock and you are coming slowly at 11.05??)
    • ,…
    • ,…
  • Rules Mama: For this mama, everything has to be followed as per the set procedure/rule. If there’s any deviation, in front of everybody he will pull you down that too with his loud voice ensuring that everybody in the vicinity comes to  know what you did. They can also be labelled as Maanatha vaangarathukune porantha mamas.
    • Ennappa elaya eppadi podaruthunnu kooda theriyaatha? (You don’t know how to keep the leaf??) – In functions it is customary to serve food in banana leaf. And the leaf has to be laid in a particular way only. If you change the direction, you will be subjected to a few nasty looks and loud jibes)
    • And if you decide to help and do some service and volunteer to serve food, there is an order by which the different dishes have to be served. If you happen to serve some dish ahead against the set order you will have to listen to archanai (taunts) from the Rules mama.
    • ,…,…
  • Over smart, padutharathukune porantha mama: These mamas are deadly. They are born to torture you. Sample these:

                   1.  “Mama: Dei, how are you, Enna theriyuma?? (Do you recognize me?)

                   You: (you are obviously unable to place him. But if you tell him the  truth  you will be subjected to a mouthful. So you lie) – Yes, yes, I recognize you. How can I forget?  How are you?

                  Mama: You remember me?? O.k. tell me who I am???

                  You: 😠 😠 Well, well, (you just escape)”

`                 2. “Mama: Ennappa entha companyla work panra?? (Where are you working??)

                   You: Mama, Godrej company

                   Mama: Evalavu Sambalam tharaan?  Kanja pasangalache??? (How much are they paying??? They are stingy buggers no???)

                    You: 😣 ???”

  • The Professional mama: These mamas wear pride in their sleeves having done professional courses like Engineering,.. that too in those days securing admission absolutely in merit when there were only few colleges. They loathe the present education system, lament on the decline in education standards and absence of meritocracy these days. So whenever you meet one of this type you will be subjected to a long lecture on how tough it was to get into engineering college those days and how he managed to get a job in Kirloskar company,…,.. When I happened to get into engineering college and met one such mama after my 2nd year, he almost took a test on Thermo dynamics, Machine design,.. all in the midst of a Seemandham function where we met!!!
  • Ellam therinja mama: He is the know it all. Period. He has an opinion on everything and as per him that’s right. From weather in Bay area to political climate in Chechnya, he knows everything.
  • Angry Old mama: These mamas were Angry young men in their primes. They get angry over everything. On the Government, system, roads, politicians, people, relatives and what have you.  Usually you will find them alone as generally people avoid a run-in with these types.
  • Munjaakirathai (Over cautious) mama: This category of mamas are always over cautious about every thing. So much so that one mama from this clan told me that he accepts friend requests in FB only after checking their horoscopes 🙂 🙂 🙂
  • Advice Kadai mama: These mamas are always into advice some time solicited, most of the times unsolicited.  From how to handle a bad boss at work to tackling inflation they provide free guidance.

And there are more. I can go on and on. Due to space and time constraint I will have to end here. Wait a minute. There’s a ring at the door and It’s my neighbour’s 15 year old son Vivek

        “Vivek: Hello, what are you doing uncle?

        Me: Well nothing much, just doing my usual Sunday blog

        Vivek: Oh, what are you writing on?

       Me: Well for a change some light stuff. On my encounters with “Mamas”  (I explain  the different   types,..)

        Vivek: Uncle, you can add one more type

        Me: Which is???

        Vivek: Blog panniye boradikara mama

         Me:  😦 😦 😦


Picture courtesy :

P.S: This is a light-hearted intentional take but with no intention to hurt anybody or any community.