The video of an Indian family on a holiday in Bali, which was caught stealing hotel accessories, has not just gone viral on social media it has divided outrage on the Internet. One corner of the digital space is expressing embarrassment at the stingy and delinquent behaviour of their fellow countrymen, while others are outraging over this branding of all Indians as ‘world’s worst travellers’, taking personal offence. Keep in mind that the family in question wasn’t just caught skimming supplies like toilet paper, shampoo or moisturiser; they stole hangars, hairdryer and even decorative artefacts from their hotel rooms. So, how much strength does this outrage of Indians being the worst travellers in the world have, based solely on this one incident?
- The video showing Indian family caught stealing accessories from a Bali hotel has gone viral.
- It has also sparked a debate on whether Indians are the worst travellers in the world or not.
- Is there a serious lack of etiquette among Indians, when it comes to staying at hotels?
- Do we suffer from this illusion of ownership, just because we paid the tariff?
The family in question wasn’t just caught skimming supplies like toilet paper, shampoo or moisturiser, they stole hangars, hairdryer and even decorative artefacts from their hotel rooms.
When it comes to staying at luxury hotels, Indians share a love-hate relationship with this concept. While we love to show our wealth and enjoy the perks that come with the heavy daily tariff, to the fullest, it seems that we end up with this sense of ownership. A lot of tourists think that by paying tariff for a day, you’ve practically bought a hotel room for yourself, thus you should exploit it to the fullest. The lights should be left on even when not needed, one should have long luxurious baths and exploit the free breakfast buffets to the fullest. But along with ownership, most people also feel they need to extract full value for the money they have paid, and this is where skimming off hotel supplies comes in. It is not an Indian thing mind you. We have all faced the temptation of packing up the extra shampoos and complimentary slippers, haven’t we? It is just lying there and you have bloody well paid for it! But then where does one draw the line? Perhaps that is the question that a lot of Indian travellers do not know the answer of.
This family was caught stealing hotel accessories. Such an embarrassment for India.
Each of us carrying an #IndianPassport must remember that we are ambassadors of the nation and behave accordingly.
India must start cancelling passports of people who erode our credibility. pic.twitter.com/unY7DqWoSr
— Hemanth (@hemanthpmc) July 27, 2019
I remember that a bell boy at a hotel in Shirdi told us about how they had to keep the batteries from TV remotes with them at the time of check out, because the customers would steal them. There is a reason why set-top boxes are kept in a glass casing with a lock on it at many Indian hotels. Then there is our very own Indian Railways, which has to chain the mugs in every lavatory. It says something about us, which we don’t want to acknowledge. The family in Bali took their sense of ownership to next level, or perhaps they are seasoned swindlers who have done and gotten away with this act before. I am not saying people from other countries don’t take hotel supplies. It is understood on some level that customers will pack shower caps, sewing kits and complementary tooth brushes worldwide. So is it possible that us Indians simply don’t know where to draw the line?
The family can be heard offering to pay up for all that they took from the hotel, on being called. How entitled do you have to be to feel you can steal electronics and artefacts from someone and then get away with it by offering to pay up.
But it is indeed unfair to generalise and on our part, it makes sense to feel so hurt by the “Indians are worst travellers in the world” diatribe. For someone who has travelled a little outside of the country, I have always been conscious about my own conduct on flights, at hotels, in cues because at the back of my head the perceptions that people from other countries have for Indians would keep running like a ticker on caffeine. And then I would watch non-Indians get away with much worse behaviour while I was trying to suppress the crunch of my chips. Am sure a lot of responsible Indian travellers feel this way right now. Despite being on our best behaviour, here we stand prosecuted collectively as Indians, for behaviour of this entitled Indian family, or that lecherous uncle who couldn’t keep his hands to himself on an international flight, or the rude traveller who cuts the line at the escalator.
What can be done about this perception that Indians are ignorant, manner-less and now (gasp) thieves? The first thing to do would be and this may earn me some scorn, to accept that we have a problem at hand. We may not be the worst travellers in the world, but we aren’t the finest either. If we face accusations of being too noisy, too dirty and too entitled, then prove them wrong by being on your best behaviour. Also, talk to your fellow travellers. The fine line between taking free stuff and stealing hangars and bathroom towels that needs to be discussed else people won’t realise that they are doing something wrong. So instead of smugly sneering at travellers who cross that fine line knowingly or unknowingly or feeling offended, talk to those around you about how we can change this perception.
Picture Credit: Video screengrab from Twitter
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.