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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Wanted, well-behaved tourists

If you don’t know how incredibly stupidly tourists can behave, you haven’t been on a holiday of late.

columns Updated: Jul 14, 2018 15:50 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
There is something about being on a holiday that triggers an unbelievable potential of acting silly in some human beings.
There is something about being on a holiday that triggers an unbelievable potential of acting silly in some human beings.(Instagram)

The recent rescue of the young boys stuck in a Thailand cave was mind-blowing, hai na? For once the whole world seemed united in prayer, and in amazing effort, to ensure that the 12 young footballers and their coach survived the ordeal for over two weeks and were brought out safely from those risky, flooded caves.

Amid the very, very relieving news of the safe exit of the boys was a small piece of speculative news on a website that caught my eye. “There are unconfirmed reports that the Government of Thailand is planning to turn those caves into a tourist spot,” it read. WHAT?? Hello, Government of Thailand, look at my folded hands and my vigorously shaking head. DO. NOT. THINK. ABOUT.IT. You have no idea how incredibly stupid tourists can be. Not tourists from a particular place, but tourists in general. Of course there are sensible tourists, just as there are sensible people otherwise in this world, but there’s something about being on a holiday that triggers an unbelievable potential of acting silly in some human beings. And when there are risky places that exist on our planet, it’s never a good idea to combine the thought of ‘tourists’ with those places. Koi phir jaakar phas jayega pakka, aap likhwa lo.

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You know, whether it’s India or abroad, I’ve seen people go berserk on a vacation. Something happens that all of a sudden, even the most normal people turn to weird behaviour. Now, look at the selfie crazy population of this world. A lot of them are anyway selfie-obsessed, but this craze reaches fanatic proportions when they step into a tourist place. There are people, who turn into Columbus protégés, and want to discover new, hidden spots, hitherto unknown to mankind where they would take a selfie. And in order to do that, they are willing to climb walls, stand on the edge of a cliff, or go to any length. While reading about the ever- increasing number of ‘selfie-accident’ deaths in the world, I realised that our countrymen are quite on the top. I also realised that there are ‘dangerous-selfie’ hashtags on Instagram, where you can even boast about the stupidity of having taken a selfie in risky situations. Can you believe it, there’s even a word for it — killfies!! Clearly the ones who take it aren’t paying attention to the first four letters. A few days ago, while visiting Mumbai, I read about the news of a girl, who slipped off a rock into the sea while attempting a selfie. Yaar, kya karna hai aisi photo ka? And you know, when it comes to tourists, sometimes it isn’t just where you are taking a selfie which ruins a holiday. It’s also the habit of taking simply too many of them. I wonder if people have forgotten what it was like to holiday when we didn’t have camera phones in our hands. People used to look at the sunset with their own eyes? Really?

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Another stupendously silly display of a typical tourist’s behaviour happens the moment people see a water body. Right from the artificial rain in some resorts to natural waterfalls, from beautiful lakes and ponds to frolicking in waves on beaches, paani dekha toh who cares about sensible behaviour! Actually to be honest, I, too, feel a child-like excitement around water, but with some people, it crosses boundaries. Once in Mussoorie, I visited a popular tourist site — Kempty Falls. It is a genuinely beautiful place, although marred by problems of cleanliness etc. that one is used to witnessing at most tourist destinations. But the point I’m making isn’t about the place being too crowded or not being clean, it is about how a lot of people were behaving, once underneath the gorgeous, and heavy waterfalls. Some of them were diving, some throwing their kids under the fall, some turning safety tubes into mini boats and rowing to dangerous corners near the rocks. Full sympathies to the two guards with whistles and a lathi in hands, who could do nothing but constantly blow air into the whistles for over 500 people acting ludicrous around them. I saw the same behaviour in the poshness of Goa, a few years back, when during the high tide in monsoon, people would just not stop wading deeper into the sea. There were several exasperated lifeguards around, who looked so helpless at the complete disregard for self-safety that was on display by people, some of them, who looked educated enough to read warning signs of high tide displayed at every few metres.

Sorry my rant seems unending, but I really want to vent by talking about yet another category of silly tourists — those who behave badly at wildlife parks and zoos. Oh my good lord, if you have no idea how unreasonable and idiotic some people can be, observe the tourists in national wildlife parks. The authorities can go hoarse crying rules and etiquettes, but it is as if we need to prove to the animals that they have reason to be thankful that God made them differently. Leave aside the usual idiocy of throwing things around and leaving the parks dirty, we indulge in hazardous and unacceptable behaviour by going too close to the animals, trying to make weird noises, throwing food items at them, flash cameras into their eyes — you name it. The animals seem far too gracious when they mostly ignore ill-behaved humans and decide to not come out of their resting places. It’s another thing that we do everything to force them to show face to us, so that we can take photos of them. The same photos that are available, in much higher resolution, on the net for free. Well.

Sonal Kalra is basically ranting about tourists because she can’t afford a vacation right now. You’ll see her flaunting holiday selfies on facebook in a few months.Mail your thoughts on whether the Thai caves should be turned into a tourist spot at or Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

First Published: Jul 14, 2018 15:49 IST

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