A satirical take on Indians traveling abroad
“Beta, abhi kitni der aur hai?” (Sweetheart, how long will it take?”)
“Shayad aadha ghanta aur, ma” (maybe half an hour, mom)
“Aadha ghanta aur…baap re itni der kaise control hoga” (OMG how am I going to control for half an hour more)
“Arrey yahan nahi aage kar lengey.” (Not here. I’ll do it at the next station)
“Par kyun ma, aapne toh pale bola tha aap se control nahi ho raha…to phir ab jab yahan uttre hain to aap kyun nahi ja rahe” (But why mom? You earlier said you are unable to control then why are you not going here?)
The reason of a sudden change of heart is not because Indian mom’s urinary bladder mystically became XXL from XS but because she saw a paid Toilet signboard. Her Brahmanical upbringing will never approve 1.5 € expense on a WC. That’s utter waste of money. So instead of relieving her pressure, she decides to show restraint. She’ll not spend more than 50 cents and when it’s FREE she would use it even if she doesn’t need to. Her mantra – anything FREE must not be missed and anything that costs should be avoided.
I am sure you would have encountered many such incidents where people traveling abroad become Traveling Mathematicians as soon as they set foot on foreign shores. Here are few unique behaviours I noticed during my travels:
FULL PAISA VASOOL IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Whether it is pleading for extra luggage allowance or becoming risky after drinking too much whisky or regularly pressing the flight attendant call button or sneakily pocketing the blanket, headphones, socks or anything that we can lay our hands on; we love to derive the best value for money even if it comes at a cost of providing free in-flight entertainment to others. Why care about image. After all we have spent so much money on flight booking. We are taking what’s rightfully ours. The ‘dhania mentality’ is not to be left home but carried along.
NEW SKILL ACQUIRED – MENTAL MATHS
Shopping without calculating how much it will cost in INR is just not our cup of tea. Foreign yatra up skills our Mental Maths. Conversions are done in seconds without any calculator aid. For a great retail therapy session, the global price has to match the Indian price. Only when we are sure we won’t find a better deal in India, will that crisp note come out of our wallet. I still remember in 2009 I so wanted to buy a pair of Nike sneakers, which were exclusively available at Oxford Street store, London but the price tag of 88 pounds made it look less attractive. I was reluctantly convinced by my mental maths that it was overpriced and not worth it. Till date I rue for not buying that pair 🙁 Sometimes you should just let go of your mental maths and follow your heart.
FROM FOUR WHEEL CRUISERS TO TWO FEET WANDERERS
In India, we won’t even walk to the nearby Kirana store to buy a packet of bread but in videshi dharti (foreign land) walking for miles becomes a cakewalk. And it’s not because weather Gods are in good mood there or suddenly health becomes a priority. It’s the fear of losing dollar count that decides our mode of travel. And dare we take a taxi from the airport on arrival. After all NRI relatives have some duties to fulfill.
FOOD EXPERIMENTATION IS NOT A PART OF TRAVELING
We love to eat but our love starts and ends with Indian cuisine. We will not travel abroad without our bags full of thepla, khakhra, bhujia, ready to eat Indian dishes, kaju katli, aam ka acchar, besan ke ladu and everything that we can carry through immigration. We rarely explore the local cuisines. If we are forced to eat outside then we will go searching for Indian restaurants and the selection criteria are based on price, not reviews. We order the cheapest dishes on the menu and share our food, even if sharing is not allowed.
I am guilty of not experimenting much with local cuisines. However, in my case, it’s not the Indian cuisine love but my limitation of being a vegetarian. On the contrary, I rarely eat at Indian restaurants because I don’t want to destroy my taste buds for forever. What irks me the most is when I see newlywed chudah-clad couples asking for bhalla-papdies at places like Halong Bay. Yes, it actually happened 🙂
FLEA MARKET CHAMPS
Flea markets are the treasure troves which we, the Traveling Mathematicians, love to hunt. The artifacts which will later grace our living rooms are bought from these flea markets. And stores like Primark, Dollar store, Japan Store, Landmark are our BFF. Their attraction overweighs any sightseeing attraction. And once we arrive at the flea market, we would not think twice before using our brahmastra – bargain. Bargaining runs in our blood. Being a true bred Indian, I have bargained from Nottinghill to Greenhills. There is a certain joy in thrift shopping, which only we Indians can appreciate 😛
CRAZY COINS SYNDROME
Coins drive us crazy. We can’t figure out for our life which one is a 50 cents and which one is a 5 cents. The queue will keep getting longer behind us while we struggle to find the right coins. Nobody likes to carry weight, so wherever there’s an opportunity we will try to get rid of them. And we absolutely love to mix our currencies. We would mix our francs with cents, yens with piso and every other currency we would have collected from our first trip onwards. But crazy coin syndrome is a real problem. Imagine having a coin for 10,000 yen (equal to 500 INR) and 1 cents in the same purse. Anybody would get confused. And lesser said about currencies like Vietnamese Dong and Indonesian Rupiah better it is. My mental maths takes a long vacation when I travel to these countries. Spending 5 lacs on a meal? That could drive anyone crazy when in actual sense it is less than 1000 INR. Best is to spend using your credit card or globally accepted currencies like the dollar. Less headache more time for fun.
FOOD FAUX PAS ARE UNFORGIVABLE
I was marveling the beauty of Brussels Atomium when I saw an Indian woman throwing up. I asked her if she needed any help. Suddenly her friends burst into a laughter. I was flabbergasted. Apparently, they couldn’t read the menu right as it was in Dutch and she ended up ordering a dish which was a complete food disaster. But being brought up in an environment where wasting food is anndevta ka apman (wasting food is a sin), she gulped it completely only to throw it up later.
GET GREEDY OVER ‘ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT’ BUFFETS
Breakfast becomes the most important meal for us because usually, breakfast comes complimentary with room booking. We would greedily pick everything from the buffet bar to quench the hunger of our eyes. In the process, we forget that there is a limit to how much our stomach can accommodate. And if we can’t gulp it down, we will get it parceled to be eaten later. It will serve as our lunch and sometimes even dinner. I used to do that as well because many times it was more convenient to carry a fruit than go vegan food hunting in the middle of nowhere.
ONLY TWO KINDS OF SOUVENIRS EXIST – FRIDGE MAGNETS AND KEY CHAINS
There was a time when I used to hate the idea of meeting anyone returning from foreign trips because I knew what my return gift would be – either a key chain or a fridge magnet. Later when I started traveling myself I realised the economic reason behind that love for those souvenirs. Fridge magnets and key chains are the cheapest souvenir items and they don’t take much space in the luggage. For your friends, it acts as an image building device – more the number of fridge magnets better your ‘Global Traveler’ image is. So what if all those fridge magnets are gifted 😛 A win-win situation for Traveling Mathematicians and their friends 🙂 However, I am not a big fan of these souvenirs so my friends don’t get them. I usually buy something unique which they can cherish for life 😛
10. LAST MINUTE SHOPPING AT DUTY-FREE SHOPS
In the quest of excelling mental maths and setting thrift shopping benchmarks, we – the Traveling Mathematicians – fail to realise that our trip has come to an end and we haven’t shopped anything yet. More than 50% of the foreign currency we carried at the start of the trip is still intact. And then the mad rush of last minute duty-free shopping kicks in. We would spend hours checking chocolates, liquor, perfume, makeup and everything that our eyes can scan in duty free zone. It’s a do or die situation. We have to spend all the cash in hand. Who knows kal ho na ho.
So these were some of the things I noticed about Traveling Mathematicians. Did you notice the same or something that you recall even today?
- This post is in good humour and is not condescending to any individual. If by mistake I have hurt your feelings then I am really sorry for that.
- Thanks to my biggest critic and best buddy, Anshul Kumar, for being the springboard.
Good observations, but to be candid they are true for all the folks. Nothing wrong in trying to save money. We are all same- same but different – e.g look at all the best friend wedding pictures in Hollywood and then remember some of the movies on wedding theme in India. You will find same characters everywhere a loud aunt, a crazy cousin, a creepy neighbor, a former lover a past her prime spinster etc.
But one thing is for sure most Indians especially the vegetarians are not interested in trying any other kind of food.
All said and done I am so happy just to read a different kind of travel post. Keep them coming 🙂
First of all I am really happy to know that you took out time to read this post. Thanks for making time. And I agree with your feedback. In fact when I was writing this post I recalled similar incidents with other country travelers too. In our case, it’s a little bit more pronounced because of our VFM upbringing and low currency value.
Last but not the least, thanks a ton for the compliment. Means a lot 🙂
A really fun read… I agree with most if not all you have written, but then saving is in our blood. We learn it from a very young age and trying to unlearn something that ingrained is not easy. Some of the things are practical as well, like using public transport and walking… You see so much more of the new place like that 😊
Thanks a lot Santosh for liking and commenting on the post. Really appreciate the gesture. And I totally agree with your feedback. I enjoy using public transport and walking because it connects me more with the soul of the place as compared to just doing the touristy trail.
Hope to see more comments of yours.
Very amusing and of course informative. Ha ha…
Thanks a lot for your kind words 🙂
Yups , not only Indian but its true for travelers of all orgin .. Even most of these points like saving on Private transfers , buying from duty free are suggested on Top International travel blogs .
So yes they sound funny but at same time , if you wish to travel across globe in your limited income , they have to be followed .
But surely a great post and brings a smile on face of us 🙂 .
*The flea market pic is probably from venice as we also picked 20 of those magnets last week
Thanks a lot Chandresh for liking and commenting on the post. I am glad you liked it 🙂
And you are absolutely right about that flea market picture. It was indeed clicked in Venice 😛
Amazing post. Just being a doctor an odd thing just caught my eye. We store our urine in urinary bladder, not in gall bladder. Gall bladder is to store bile. Please correct it. Any ways, great stuff.. Thanks for sharing..
Mercie beaucoup for liking the article 🙂 And thanks a lot for the correction Doc 🙂
nice pics with good story thanks for sharing
What a great tips! Thank you for sharing such great information. Very inspirational!
Damn I am guilty of some of these. Blame the conditioning of society. Nice post.
HA HA. All are. Including me.
Thanks for the appreciation 🙂
“In India, we won’t even walk to the nearby Kirana store to buy a packet of bread but in videshi dharti (foreign land) walking for miles becomes a cakewalk.” SO TRUE. I barely walk in India and the moment I am travelling abroad, 20 kms per day on foot it is.
Not Indian but still relatable!
Your opening paragraphs are stellar. Seriously, I was laughing because it’s the same for my Maltese relatives. They’ll hold it if it means saving money. Seriously!
I am guilty of the fridge magnet v. keychain as well. This is such a great post 🙂
I’ve never been to India but I really like the post, I think you said in a funny way your impression of the place. I’m curious to visit there.
This is such a great read! Haha the first few lines cracked me up, you are an amazing writer. Loved the post. I have to agree about the keychain and magnet bit 🙂
This is a very nice read funny. One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting locals and other fellow travelers. Seeing exact how different we all are is so interesting.
This is really interesting to read a take on other cultures traveling! I had no idea about the fridge magnets and key-chains thing, that’s so funny!
Great post….I can’t imagine food not being a part of traveling. At ALL!
Fun post- I enjoyed reading your take on general cultural habits.
Ahaha, good humour and a different take on saving money post. Really enjoyed it! Plus the pictures 🙂
Your post was so funny! Well, I guess that, as a Portuguese, sometimes we tend to also bargain prices, especially when we visit countries where that’s cultural. And I might say that we’re quite good at it 😉
Yeah, how come coins have to be so confusing? Even in the U.S., nickels are bigger than dimes! Travelers have it rough!
Haha, I enjoyed reading this, even though a brit, I am a fellow coin mixer, it drives the people I travel with mad. I sometimes wish I was better at bartering, but that’s my inbuilt politeness that agrees to any price and then moan to all my friends afterwards about how expensive it all is. Oh well, thanks for sharing!
Hope it’s not too cheeky to add but as I like the way you write I’ll mention that if you have some other destination-related posts and you want to share them, take a look at my site where you can submit blogs to go on the map. Happy Travels
I do a lot of these and I’m not Indian. Think it might be a human thing 🙂
My husband is the same way (although he’s American). We live in Texas and we take a car everywhere. But once we are in New York or Paris we have to walk everywhere or take the subway.
I hadn’t really heard any of these stereotypes before. I didn’t know Indians have a reputation for bargaining. But that poor woman who made herself throw up by eating something that did not agree with her! What a sad story.
This is a really insightful and unique article to read. Fun written also! We as Dutch try to Bargain our way around also 😉
I feel like we can relate to this a lot as we are always penny pinching trying to get the best deal. We try to only buy fridge magnets as souvenirs as well. We also really like making use of the complimentary breakfast as the hotels.
I like the mixture of humour and pragmatism in this post. This is nicely put together, and ample photos always help as well!
I had so much fun reading your post! You’ve made quite keen observations. As there is a saying that you can take Indians out of India but you can’t take India out of Indians!
I really like your blog. Few of the common things we do at foreign trips and you present it humorously.its a fun to read this blog.
Such a fun read ! Well written and totally spot on.
What a wonderful, funny article. Having just returned from a trip, i can relate to each and every point. 😀
Nice post with good story archna ji
Hey Archana, Thank you so much for the good information, i enjoyed your article, it’s very helpful, hahaha….i had so much fun reading your article.
Nice story Archana with beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing
Thanks a lot, Amara for reading the article and sharing your comment. Really glad you liked it. Hope to see you around.
I am really in love with this! One of those articles where I couldn’t stop smiling because it’s so true & so relatable. Loved it! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks. I had fun writing it too 🙂
A humorous take indeed! While completely guilty to the conversion table, most are for first-timers or old age folks!
I prefer walking in Europe because the weather is pleasant & does not leave you in sweat; but yes, to each his own.
Wow, awesome blog. I love it. Especially food.
Hey Archana, You wrote very well, an amazing post with the best pictures. Thank you for sharing this post.
I am glad you liked it. Thanks a lot for reading it and sharing your feedback.