“Ooh what an exotic looking sweater that is. Where did you get it from, Monsier?”
No answer. The man wearing the sweater turns around. You realize it’s not a sweater.
Yes, we are excited about traveling to a new destination. Perhaps you’ve found fantastic cheap flights and can’t believe your luck. Yes, some of us pack an entire new wardrobe before every vacation. We are upbeat and we cannot deny. But when you are travelling, you want to see the place and get to know the people. This you’d be able to do when you blend in, and not be the flashy tourist who the lil Japanese kid points out towards from his balcony two miles away.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when travelling:
Religiously Inappropriate Clothing
This should particularly be kept in mind when visiting an Asian or a Middle Eastern country. Actress Katrina Kaif was criticized for showing up at a dargah in a skirt. Repressive though it might be, you don’t want to get stuck in a religious controversy on your trip. Mini-skirts, bikinis, tank tops might be the usual game for you, but might raise eyebrows elsewhere. The unwanted attention can get scary at time. Carry a stole or a shawl in your bag just in case.
Don’t let your camera hang from your neck all the time. Click a picture and put it your bag. Even the birds in the sky could tell you are a tourist. You certainly don’t want to be robbed and hence lose all the photographs you clicked.
“Hey what is that thing you added to the bhelpuri? It’s awesome!” You gush to the roadside bhelpuriwala.
“It’s onions. Do you not have them in your country?” Oops.
Wipe off that babe-in-new-city look off your face. You look stupid, and you’d probably invite conmen and other men out to have some good fun at your expense. If you are stuck or confused about the route, don’t stand in the middle of the road, map in hand, or yelling at your travel agent. Don’t ask every Tom, Dick and Harry for directions. Sit somewhere, buy a cup of tea, open Google maps, and get your shit together.
Again. Inviting thieves. Losing it. Agony. Blah blah. Leave your rubies and pearls at home.
Cultural Faux Pas
This one can be the funniest as well as the most dangerous. Wearing an all-white saree to an Indian wedding is a no-no as white is associated with funerals. While a white gown is the Western bride’s dress, the Indian widow has been wearing the white saree since times immemorial.
You might be the genuinely friendly and open-hearted , but if you decide to greet the homely wife of your homely Indian friend by embracing her or giving her a peck on the cheek, good luck to you.
Having said all this, I must say that you need not curb our natural instincts when travelling. It’s a holiday, not a job interview. If you are loud and easily excited, so be it. If you like to wear flashy clothes and flashy jewellery like Bappi Lahiri, so be it. You want to sing “Pehle nasha” at Eiffel Tower, do it. You’be be stared at, so what. Big deal. As long as you reach home in one piece, it’s okay.