Celeb recall ‘B****Y travel moments!
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Celeb recall ‘B****Y travel moments!

Protests have erupted on the Net over the alleged racial discrimination against Indian passengers by Air France. HT City talks to some celebrities who have faced the same.

entertainment Updated: May 13, 2009 21:30 IST
Team HT City
Team HT City
Hindustan Times

Protests have erupted on the Net over the alleged racial discrimination against Indian passengers by Air France, and speaking to several eminent people. HT City finds that brown skin often leads to suffering when one travels abroad.

Many posts on the Net call for a boycott of Air France, which allegedly confined 60 Indian passengers in a section of the airport for 28 hours with just a sandwich and a bottle of water each. These passengers were booked on a flight to Mumbai from the US via Paris, and the flight from Paris was delayed by a day.

Kalashree Sengupta, a Boston student, was on the same flight and she recalls the plight of those with no transit visa for France. “We were made to go around from one place to another for hours. Air France people took our passports for transit visa… and returned them after five hours without any visa stamp.” After being made to sit in a confined space with their small ration of food and water, the Indian passengers were shifted to a no-liquid zone, where even the water wasn’t allowed. “Then we stood there and refused to move,” says Kalashree. The ordeal was over only next morning.

The airline has said that getting transit visa proved to be time-consuming, and that the passengers were in the meantime taken care of by its ground staff.

However, theatre personality Sohaila Kapur believes “Air France has a history of racial attacks”, judging by her personal experience.

Composer Adesh Srivastava and his friends were recently called ‘slumdog Indians’ by a white male as they came out of a Los Angeles cinema after a show of Slumdog Millionaire.

Many people abroad seem to believe that India has nothing but slums. Model Amanpreet Wahi was honeymooning in Paris, wearing designer clothes and a 5-carat solitaire, when “some people looked me up and down and said, ‘How can you have all this, you are an Indian?’”

Painter GR Iranna and ad guru Prahlad Kakkar talk about shabby treatment at airport checks. Kakkar says he has been made to “feel like a criminal” at immigration counters. Iranna’s case was nearly ransacked at an Egyptian airport and he had to repack it again. Designer Abdul Halder says he had to convince the crew on a flight to West Asia that he was not an illiterate labourer.

Actress Malaika Arora Khan recalls how British Airways staff called her and her friends “b****y Indians” though they were “only too eager to please the goras”.

First Published: May 13, 2009 21:26 IST