January 29, 2015

Ode to the Indian tourist

I see you, dear Indian tourist, I see you everywhere. You with the cowboy hat shielding your head from the sun; your sneakers in stark contrast to the fancy salwar kameez and nayi dulhan ka chooda; your DSLR’s and expensive camera mobiles proudly on display.

I see you, and hear you, loud and clear, as you crack insensitive jokes about the exhibits on display at the museum, making sure everyone knows how funny and cool you are.

I see you, every corner I turn, posing for the camera, taking selfie after selfie, in pursuit of the perfect frame, the next profile picture; clicking crazy pictures in crazy poses with your bunch of crazy friends. 

I see you, showing no interest whatsoever in the monument, preferring to spend more time photographing every inch of the place, not pausing to admire the intricacies of the architecture or taking in the breathtaking view from atop the fort, so that you can "arre facebook pe upload karenge", eager to show the world that yes, you are a "traveler" too, you've seen places of interest too.

I see you, letting your bratty kids climb atop monuments that have been preserved for centuries, blind to the very prominent board just next to it that says "Climbing on the steps is strictly prohibited", all for the sake of making happy memories.

I see you, skulking around large groups of tourists, eavesdropping on their guide that they paid for, the same guide you had brushed off just outside the gate because you are too cool to be walking around with a tour guide, but not so cool that you won't soak in some heritage passively.

I see you, declaring your love for your paramour by scribbling your names inside a heart at places that have been declared as places of heritage; Or your bonds of friendship forever. Because isn't destroying a national monument the ultimate test of true love and friendship.

I see you, spitting on the roads and walls of this new city that you have set out to explore, leaving a filthy, paan-stained legacy behind.

I see you, wearing stilettos for a visit to the fort where you have about two hours of walking, climbing and tottering to do. You are either ill-informed, or just phenominally stupid.

Athithi devo bhava, my ass.