Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Aggressive Vacationer - The Changing Face of India

To see the changing face of India one needs to go on a vacation to a popular holiday spot. Here we see unleashed, all that we hear about and more, of how India is changing. In my recent visit to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani I noticed the affluence, the changing culture, the eagerness to have a good time. But despite the show of affluence and money, the confidence and aggression, there is clearly one leg still stuck in the old paradigm somewhere. We still do not belong yet.

The first thing that strikes you is the number of cars and private vehicles on the highway as we head to the destination. Cars of all makes fly around you - from an old fiat, a crowded 10 seater, a Maruti 800 with an old family, a new Santro with a couple, the Mercs, the Audis, the BMW SUVs - they are all ripping down the highways, scrambling up the hills, their mountain bikes strapped on, carriages fitted with luggage. Everyone has sunglasses on, they are in their shorts and three quarters, singlets with outrageous slogans that make you wonder if they know the meaning of what they are flaunting. Yes, we are on a holiday!
Waiting for the sun to set at Mahabaleshwar

Of course the cars are all overtaking, squeezing in, trying to push you off the road because we are all self righteous and feel that we own the road - and all others can go live in the ditch. And what the hell, we are on vacation so we must have a good time and no one dare spoil that. From toll booths to small traffic jams we see this obnoxious road behaviour where cars just go up the wrong way to the top of the line, not giving a damn whether the entire line gets jammed because of their idiocy. And the aggression comes from pockets that are heavy with vacation money. So what - even we pay our taxes. We also have money and that will compensate for everything else. Luckily I did not see too many people flinging trash out of the car which was one of the better things. Maybe because they all had children aboard. Or maybe they just did not want their air conditioning effect to go.

And the spirit shows in the clothes as well. The Die-hard vacationeers are dressed out in gaudy, ill fitting clothes that I am sure they would not normally wear at their homes. This is vacation wear folks and all of us are allowed all freedom. So the pallu wearing, bindi flashing, conservative bahu, dons her ill fitting jeans and skirts barely fitting into them, her flashy sleeveless tops, her imported sun glasses and becomes the beer sipping bahu for the vacation. The guys are at the aggressive best, sleeveless tops, shorts and an urgency to ensure that their family gets everything first even if it means stamping and trampling on everyone, babies included. They will outshout, out-abuse anyone who dares come between them and their perfect time. One gets to see the most number of ill attired, loud mouthed people in these vacation spots - I even saw one girl on a honeymoon probably, who wore a short frock that kept flying off all over the place - but what the hell, we are on vacation pal. And she was with one sleazy looking type and one can only send a prayer up for her.

The third thing about our new Indian vacationeer is the gadgets they flaunt. Cameras are flashing all the time as people are more interested in clicking pictures for their facebooks, blogs and tweets rather than enjoying the scene. Maximum number of spots have to be covered, snapped at and compiled as conquests. Video cameras come out, cell phones are used to photograph and also convey the exact amount of fun that is being had orally at the loudest shout. We have to share how good a time we are having right now. From cars to clothes, gadgets to sights, we have covered much but we cannot forget our great Indian obsession - food.

This is a sight to be seen. All food joints are packed with people who want to eat. And our new Indian vacationeer, the one with the car, the gadgets, the clothes is in no shape but he and she wants to get their fill. He and she have been binging their guts out and they all arrive with their fat bellies, thick waists, layered faces and hungry looks, waddling in to eat more and more. Quantity is the key, and after all we are on vacation. Money flows like water as our vacationeers eat and eat and eat. What is more intriguing is that they all want to eat food from their region - no one wants to try any food from the new place. Arre, we don't get apna food here yaar! And in a couple of days of binging, of trampling everyone and everything in the way, after spending most of the money they got, they leave, content that they have had a good holiday. Clothes come back to normal, bahu goes back to sipping beer on the sly and we can all plan the next holiday where we can have fun - to hell with everyone else.

Maybe this is a case of too much too soon. Maybe at some point we will learn to be more civil, more kind, more polite and have a good time without ruining it for all else. Maybe we can also learn to imbibe the place, let it sink in, instead of trying to gobble it all up in one gulp. And maybe we can learn to make it a rich experience, not just for us but to others there as well. I hardly hear a civil conversation as everyone barks, scowls, huffs and puffs. But I remember seeing an old couple, immaculately dressed, perfectly behaved at the sunset point in Mahabaleshwar and they were such a refreshing change from all others who were shoving one another out of the way to watch


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head with this story. Very nicely done.

The rude loud aggressive Indian on vacation. Hmmm... wonder which other group of people this description sounds like.....


Harimohan said...

Hmmm, wonder which group! Let me think...

Rajendra said...

ha, ha, ha, just been back from one such..thankfully the season was just beginning, and the crowds were limited.

Harimohan said...

Foreign territories again quieten down the crowd a bit I think (unless they come in a gang) but if you go to popular ones at sea level - they are at it full on.