A few weeks back, yours truly was able to escape the bustle and din of the city for a quick dash to a seaside retreat. Peace of mind and some much needed me-time amid monsoon-blessed green environs were intended to be a part of the plan. Perfect, we thought as we drove down, thrilled at the possibilities of these simple joys of life that have become increasingly difficult to savour in today’s urban rollercoster.
As we settled into this quiet retreat, the plot seemed to be going according to plan. We couldn’t believe our luck when we noticed that apart from us, there were a few families content on doing their own thing; the getaway was turning out to be a ‘escape’ quite literally. Little did we realise that this was sadly, the calm before the storm. It’s when the tornado, also known collectively as The Big Loud Indian tourist (these come in all kinds of numbers) had descended on the serene destination.
Up until then, guests at this quaint boutique space were content enjoying music from one of Mumbai’s popular radio stations – easy going, and without damaging people’s eardrums. Suddenly, all of this had changed. We were treated to loud, bass-infused, thumping beats that were undecipherable to say the very least. While the perpetrators were just two, the damage was tremendous. The utter lack of regard to keep the sensibilities of the rest of the guests in mind didn’t seem to exist. The calm of the space that was otherwise broken only with the odd chirping bird or the guard dog next door was lost amid Honey Singh and his ilk. It wasn’t just about the music. The pristine pool and its vicinity had become a splash fest where both seemed keen to not allow the rest to enjoy the setting. Mood killed, we hoped sanity would prevail by sundown. It wasn’t to be. The staff were inconvenienced with their tantrums and odd requests (spa treatments at 8 pm, anyone?). By then, luckily for us, we had to bid goodbye and boy were we glad!
This breed, which we have come to be wary of, can be spotted across most holiday destinations and can strike at will, irrespective of time, day and type of venue. One recalls being subject to a similar episode in the heart of the scenic Western Ghats. With zero connectivity and no television, it seemed ideal until a bunch arrived, guitar and orchestra in tow. Bird calls had an altogether different meaning thereafter.
In the larger picture, such scant disregard for fellow guests does put a spoke in our efforts to make India a tourism-friendly destination for Indians and international visitors. It might seem like a long shot but truth be told, this does play a huge role in contradicting the Indian phrase: Atithi Devo Bhava. Until, this isn’t checked or nipped in the bud, this fast-moving virus will carry on, undeterred, pecking into the peace and tranquility of their fellow tourists. And, giving Indian tourism a bad name.
The writer is Features Editor of mid-day