Bali video exposes ugly truth

Cringing at how a desi family was caught stealing towels, hair dryers and soap dispensers from a hotel? At destinations abroad, the ugly Indian is a sad reality
Last Updated 30 July 2019, 14:40 IST

When a video of an Indian family stealing a plethora of accessories from a Bali hotel went viral on Saturday, social media exploded with outrage.

Indians everywhere expressed shock and dismay at how the incident paints the entire Indian tourist community in a bad light.

The ugly Indian tourist is a reputation we can’t escape, trade insiders say, although it is unfair to tar the entire community with the same brush.

Travel blogger Ami Bhat says it is common to typify a community on the basis of one incident or experience.

“While hotels may not outwardly treat Indian travellers differently, they definitely would not feel the same way about us. There would be a certain bias when they encounter Indians – a wariness and hesitancy to go beyond the stipulated politeness expected of their job. For us as travellers, it might translate into them being distant with us,” she says.

Rikant Pitti, COO and co-founder, EaseMyTrip, feels more Indians are open to travelling abroad now, but not everyone is familiar with the etiquette.

“Earlier, international travel was confined to the rich, but with increasing disposable incomes, the middle class is now taking the plunge. The numbers are huge and Indians play a major role in the global tourism industry,” he says.

Indian travellers are demanding and are known to whine a lot.

“We have heard complaints about everything — the airline services, hotel facilities, view from the rooms.... Many times, Indian tourists are criticised for getting drunk and creating a nuisance,” he told Metrolife.

Bad behaviour by tourists ruins the image of an entire country, he observes. “But the recent incident came as a shock to us as well, because we have never witnessed anything like this,” he says.

Many travellers are unaware of the culture of the countries they are going to, or simply don’t want to follow them, Pitti notes.

A spokesperson for OYO says the company has not seen any unusual complaints against Indian guests at its many hotels outside India. “The incident in the video is indeed unfortunate and it is incumbent on all guests, regardless of nationality, to behave in an appropriate manner while staying at hotels, be it in India or abroad,” he says. Raghu Nair, general manager, The Ottera, says that though the incident was regrettable, it should not be generalised. “I have never seen anything like this in my career. There have been no complaints against Indian guests in our hotel.”

When asked how he would have dealt with a similar incident, he says, “We would have asked them to pay for the items or blacklisted them. But we wouldn’t shoot a video since it would affect their reputation.”

Not surprised, says Gul Panag

Former Miss India Gul Panag has a series of observations about her experiences as an intern in the hotel industry.

She says flying crew from India are notorious for taking things from hotel rooms — paintings, hairdryers and DVD players — but not everyone is bad.

“It’s always one or two rotten apples that give them that reputation,” she says.

Sometimes, even carpets are cut out from the floor and taken away.

Famous people take away bathroom robes and actors are greedy when it comes to hotel services and splurge on producers’ accounts.

Special don’ts for Indians

RPG Enterprises chairman Harsh Goenka took to Twitter to criticise a Swiss hotel for issuing a ‘code of conduct’ only for Indian guests.

Hotel Gstaad’s list, addressed to ‘guests from India’, says they should not take anything away from the breakfast table, and they should eat only at the table.

It also asks Indian guests to use cutlery provided by the hotel (since ‘other guests also want an appetising buffet’) and tells them to be quiet in the corridors and on the balcony.

Goenka was initially angry and felt humiliated but says he soon realised Indians were loud, rude and not culturally sensitive as tourists.

Many on Twitter agreed with him, though they felt the notice was discriminatory.

Indian family was taking it all: soap dispenser, towels, even a hair dyer

In the video posted to Twitter, which has since then been shared thousands of times, the staff of a hotel in Bali is seen checking an Indian family’s luggage. They recover soap dispensers, towels, a hair dryer, coat hangers, a mirror and jars.

While a man, part of the Indian tourist group, is apologising and offering to pay for all the items, a woman starts yelling at the hotel employee.

The employee responds by saying the theft showed ‘no respect’ to the hotel, while the family continues to apologise.

Bali police confirmed the incident in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying it took place at The Royal Purnama Hotel on Jalan Purnama Beach in Sukawati.
A Facebook post added that a supervisor at the hotel recorded the video and the Indian family eventually returned everything they took, and also paid for stuff missing from the hotel room.

(Published 30 July 2019, 14:40 IST)

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