Tuesday, October 19, 2004

We Indians

These are my personal views about the article in Economic Times (the article is pasted at the end of my views):

1: Some examples cited in the Economic Times article are very true (ladies entering the swimming pool in saree and people hogging on the freebreakfast, etc.). It ridiculous to see someone of your own country behaving in an obnoxious way, and thus tarnishing his own as well as his country's reputation.

2: I also agree that a lot of Americans, Chinese and African Americans are worse than us when it comes to running behind free stuff.

Having considered these two points, one, however, CANNOT justify their irresponsible public behavior. If a certain thing is wrong then it IS wrong. Hogging on a free breakfast is NOT justified just because some American also does it. One has to remember that you are always representing something: be it your country, community, company or your family. One has to always behave him/herself, because your behavior determines the reputation of the entity your are representing. This this even more significant for a developing country like India, which is still trying to find a prominent position in world affairs.

One simple example: After coming to US, a lot of people complain that 'south Indians badly smell of food'. It does not mean that EACH AND EVERY south Indian smells of sambar and rassam. But a few DO. And those few people tarnish the reputation of entire community.Americans, Europeans do not differentiate between a south Indian and north Indian. For them, Indians smell of food. Thus, only a few individuals are good enough to make people believe that Indians smell bad, which, as a matter of fact, is not completely true.

Even Chinese small badly of food. But that doesn't mean that our south Indian brothers are doing well by doing free publicity of our Indian delicacy.

When I read the article, I took it positively... with a message that one has to behave himself and try to be an ideal ambassador for our India. I agree that one single individual cannot change the things....But he can always try from his side, can't he?

Original Article:


In a resort, the world is somewhat easier to place. The Japanese see others through a Japanese handycam. The Americans pretend to be friendlier than their president. The French flirt with your wife if she is not British. The Ukrainian will not mind indecent behaviour, for a fee. People from all nations steal the bathrobe. And the Indian? The country's hospitality industry lets out a sigh and flight attendants roll their eyes.

There are unpleasant memories. The middle-class Indian is travelling to the upper reaches of good life and he is feared today by all in the business of standing with folded palms and salaried smiles.

He screams at the hotel staff to secretly ensure good service. He mistakes the waiter for his domestic help back home. He tries to eat everything in the breakfast buffet, because it is obviously profitable that way. His wife is in the pool in a saree, mixing water sports with modesty. And his we-two-ours-two kids are all over the place.

"The new Indian traveller wants attention, he wants slavish respect, he wants to own the place, he wants to swim in the pool in his VIP underwear," says Poonam Sethi, Radisson Hotel's director of sales and marketing. On international flights, he asks for "souvenirs", washes his hands in the plate and snaps his fingers to call the stewardess. "One guy even tried to open the aircraft door thinking it is the toilet," according to a flight attendant.

Cabin crews of international airlines that fly to India are specially briefed about the Indian. "The flight is going to be demanding," is what an air hostess is told by her chief during Cathay Pacific's pre-departure briefings on the Hong Kong-Mumbai flight. "We are clearly asked to be generous with liquor because Indians would want to drink a lot when it is free. If an average international passenger has two drinks during a flight, Indians have four."In her eight-year career, she has seen Indians make bhel from onions and other things brought from home, bathe and smoke in the toilet, and hide under a blanket to flout the seat-belt rule. One man even asked her, 'where is your urinification room?'

"Indians are so feared by the cabin crew that the highest number of sick leaves happen just before the Hong Kong-Mumbai flight," she said. Rupert Bray, the country manager for India, Nepal and Bangladesh was not available to confirm this phenomenon.Part of the high-end leisure industry's grouse against Indians finds its genesis in selfish commercial interests. A suave white man at the breakfast buffet, who does not raid all varieties of food, is more profitable than the experimental Indians. Tips influence the world view of waiters greatly. But even the hotels who claim to suffer the onslaught of the middle-class Indian, admit that he is precious during the lean periods.

Rattan Keswani, senior vice president, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, does not sympathise with the grievances of high-end resorts. "If you offer those prices, those people will come," he says. "You can't make money out of them and regret having them at the same time." According to him, "the Indian business traveller is a very mature individual and so the Oberoi in Mumbai for example, has no trouble dealing with him at all."Mr Keswani's views are not shared by all.

For several Indian resorts, sales meetings are treacherous confluences where the middle-class Indian male arrives at a wonderland called 5-star, leaving his regulatory wife at home.During such conclaves in Rajasthan, resorts are wary of men from Delhi. "Even during lean periods we try our best not to take conferences from Delhi," an executive of a high-end hotel chain says. "The men are rude and leery towards the female staff. They are insufferable," he adds.During the monsoons in Goa, it pours Indians. Sales, marketing and, of course, HR conferences spill over all facets of high-end resorts. And Scot Adams' men come to life. A photographer, who used to run a boutique in Goa, remembers a sight in a Panjim resort. "These guys were by the pool but didn't know how to swim. So, they brought buckets from their rooms, filled the pool water in the buckets and poured it on themselves," she said.

An Indonesian girl hired by a Goan resort to perform Balinese massage is tired of middle-aged Indians who want, "sex massage". Her understanding employer has told her that if a customer uses the word 'sex' a particular number of times, she could walk out of the room. The chef in the same hotel explains: "When the off-season comes, our boss comes around and tells the workers: Gentlemen, the season has changed. The foreigners are gone and the Indians have landed."

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