Monday, March 28, 2016

Are You a Hyper Tourist ?

Image courtesy - viewmixed.com

Travelling has the knack of bringing out the abnormal in us. It can either turn us into lazy bums or into the hyper tourist. Of late HT has acquired something of a badass reputation from the breed that prefers to distinguish itself from the hoi-polloi and calls itself a traveller. The traveller will try to immerse himself in the local culture. S/he shuns the comforts of hotels, bathes sparingly, takes a snooze in a cave and licks ant-chutney off the same plate with tribals s/he has just befriended. The HT on the other hand would rather stay in their comfort zone, on the beaten track and in areas where the amenities are similar to what they have at home if not better.

Unlike the traveller who takes off on a whim with just a backpack, the hyper-tourist plans their itinerary like a war strategy. The destination is selected after much deliberation, intense research on the World Wide Web and discussions with other specimens with ample experience of straying. This is followed by further research on familiarising oneself with the new habitation, usually by the female. Pretty soon the female has acquired a formidable collection of anything that starts with ‘top ten’. It can range from ‘must visits, must not visit, hotels – cheap and expensive, local food that give you stomach cramps, bargain haunts, hidden gems that’s public knowledge.’ The more adventurous the female is, the thicker the folder becomes.

Spotting this peculiar type is easy. They stand out like a sore thumb dressed in sneakers and anything that doesn’t go with it. The female carries a handbag large enough to fit a dead body. The male of the species lugs around a camera the size of a Mumbai apartment. They can be seen striking funny poses and clicking anything that looks remotely interesting. It’s only later they discover that the heritage looking building they captured was in fact a urinal.

The femme has the propensity to suddenly go missing and leave her mate in a state of panic. She can be invariably found inside a swish looking store, surveying dresses, shoes and handbags, surreptitiously checking their price-tags and rolling her eyes in horror. Soon she’s seen moonwalking out of the store.

Their favourite activity is walking with a map in hand, looking lost or standing in front of Louvre and asking passers-by where Louvre is. Despite the extensive research that included weather patterns for the next 5 years before packing, they are either sweating or shivering in weather inappropriate clothing. Whatever made you think, weather is like humans that reads its horoscope and behaves accordingly. Of course, it has a mind of its own!


Once the typical tourist sets foot on foreign shores, their energy, adventurous spirit, itinerary starts multiplying like rabbits and their legs transmute into wheels. It’s not a day well spent till they have covered 25 attractions and come back to the hotel with a back-ache, leg-ache, headache and shoulder ache. Stomach ache is always an added bonanza.

There exists another variant - ‘the typical terrible tourist (T4)’ and is usually a fellow Indian. You can usually hear them before you can see them. If you are taking a flight out of the country, you are most likely to find your toe under their foot while you wait for your turn to get into the aircraft. If it’s your lucky day, you might even get your kidney knocked out by their elbow. After appropriating baggage space from fellow passengers by arguing loudly, they’ll make themselves comfortable by poking those seated a row ahead with their knees. You are in danger of losing your hair, sanity, patience as their cublings emit shrill sounds while running up and down the aisle.

T4s exhibit their finest traits when travelling to foreign habitats. Despite carrying four suitcases and six handbags, they prefer leaving their manners behind. If you managed to miss them on your flight, you’re most likely to find them at a Madam Tussaud’s near you, posing with the wax statue of Amitabh Bachchan that bears no resemblance to him.

They also suffer from a deep aversion to the unfamiliar despite seeking it. Even though they spend wads of money to travel, they have little or no interest in about learning about the place they’re visiting. And why would they? Most of them travel for the sake of their relatives and neighbours who they can turn green with envy.

T4 prefers moving around in a herd, either with its Barjatiya sized families or tour groups and gazillion packets of bhujiya. It has a strong preference for having private conversations in public so that the entire world can hear T4 describe the Piaget it bought for 15 lacs. Interestingly, despite its extravagant tastes, it takes great pains to seek out the cheapest eateries, avoids paying tips and freebies it can grab from hotels and stores.

It doesn’t take too long for the tourist to start missing home. The same home they were itching to get away from. After the initial euphoria of picturesque landscapes, unfamiliar cuisine, clean cities where everything works and everyone diligently follows rules, they start craving the familiar comfort of their own habitat. A place where things seldom work, people rarely follow rules and the chaos constantly keeps you on tenterhooks. The dust, the heat chokes you, the traffic exasperates you, yet it feels so good to be back. The heart beating to the rhythm of blaring horns, you step outside the airport, inhale the toxins, and sigh with relief.

One needs to be away from home to realise what a great feeling home is.



44 comments:

  1. hmmmmm.... musings post your hong kong trip... I did find both HT and T4 travellers in hk (and they were not just Indians).....

    www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. Yes, a lot of them were Chinese.

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  2. There was this couple of girls whom we asked to queue up for security check and they made fun of u continuously standing right beglhind us.

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  3. Well, it's the same as saying one doesn't understand the value of something until it's lost isn't it? You've described so well how every single trip is for tourists. :D But all the exhaustion and hype from the tour is worth it, and yeah it feels ever so good to be back home!
    Also, some of us tend to go to a foreign land and eat our own native food from there instead of trying out their cuisine. And sometimes we buy something special exclusively from out there and get back home to find the same product in our local hypermarket. Everything is available everywhere, except though, the experience the visit.

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    1. We travel all over the world only to return with made in China mementoes.

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  4. Just realised I am HT... better that than licking ant chutney with tribals! What are you Purba?? Going by the HK pics, not a T4 or even HT (your outfits matched!)... :P

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    1. A combination of HT and the traveller, I guess. We prefer the comfort of a posh hotel but loath to take a guided tour.

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  5. That was a well surmised observation on travellers to the foreign shores! You however smartly skipped fitting yourself in either mould except perhaps in the category that visits 25 must see places to return back to the hotels dead tired for yet another repeat the next day:)

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    1. More of an HT I suppose. But we avoid taking guided tours and prefer discovering the location on our own, usually on foot.

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    2. Nothing to beat exploring at your own pace and spending time on things you would like to experience rather than ticking off items in a universal bucket list:)

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  6. Ha ha. I love your descriptions of T4 ! We all have met them :) And yes, welcome home !

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  7. For a moment, I wondered whether Hindustan Times was giving travel incentive tab realized Hyper Tourist. Guess, they are all over the place and wanna occupy every space, visit every thing. Pointless to say, I love your humor. Guess, we need to be smart tourists with no plans but just explore:)

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    1. I love exploring but prefer coming back to room service and a soft bed.

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  8. I think I am sort of a cross between a hyper-tourist and laid-back one. I used to be a lot more hyper earlier; but now with the kid in tow, I plan out the travel and make sure we have enough breaks to recharge our batteries. The first trip we made to Singapore with the then-18month old, taught me a lesson or two.
    Oh, I knew a few T4's - ones who've packed Maggis and bhujiyas because 1) They didnt know what food they'd get 2) Aakhir dil hai hindustani - so wanted to save money :)

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    1. I encountered T4's on my first and last conducted tour we took in Europe. They are an interesting combination of embarrassment and headache.

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  9. I can get hyper while travelling and would easily fit into your "visit 25 places and return to hotel with sore legs" hi hi.... But am learning now :)

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    1. Yep. I stopped making itineraries.

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  11. Haha. " It’s only later they discover that the heritage looking building they captured was in fact a urinal."
    And the fact about the hyper husband and the missing wife is so true. Funny how we itch to run away from home and itch to get back to comfort of our own bed. No hotel bed, however comfy can beat that.

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    1. It wasn't like this before! I would cry when it was time to go back home.

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  12. No matter what type of tourist you are, if it's not on instagram, how'd you tell apart dream from reality.

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  13. I loved reading this post .. I was thinking what kind of a tourist I am ;) won't asnwer that here

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  14. Very interesting and funny. The go-native category of tourists are typical of Amerca and Europe, what with their shorts, sunglasses, huge rucksacks and taking photos of us natives. Many uber-elite Indians seem to be doing the same thing in distant lands. :)

    Thanks!
    Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay
    You are Infinite

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    1. I think we are the more obnoxious version.

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  15. Hmm.. I do show traits of both HT and T4s... not sure! It would depend on the place and the people I am with I guess. I love your style of writing Purba.

    - Chai - Style.. a Pastiche! - styleapastiche.com

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    1. Thank you so much for reading.

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  16. Hmmm..

    Are you writing this from your experience? :) What kind of traveler are you?
    I am a bit of HT and ant chutney eater! :)

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    1. Ditto.

      I prefer discovering the city on my own, take public transport and try out local delicacies.

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  17. I'm a bit of HT sparing the ant chutney :-D Have seen the T4s and, they are exactly the same as you've written. But, I truly agree with the last few lines...home is home. Despite the crowd, dust and Didi, I love coming back to my city... :-)

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    1. I guess one has to be away from something to appreciate and miss it.

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  18. I think I show traits of both.. Very well written..and fantastic observations...and no chutney for me... :p

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  19. I think I'm a HT at least the planning part. Actually I'm a compulsive planner. I try to plan everything. Which type are you?

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    1. I used to be a compulsive planner, but not anymore. I prefer playing it by the ear. Our itinerary is a mix of lazy and backbreaking days.

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  20. Ah! Have encountered all these types. Not sure that l fit any of the categories. I plan my trips well but take it easy with kids. Also l prefer to relax and hardly an interested in doing the entire circuit in most places.

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    1. For me it depends on where I am vacationing. While I prefer lazing at a beach retreat, I am constantly on the move when we are in a city with a lot of buzz.

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  21. he he he :) Oh boy I was recently working for 3 weeks in London and what an eyeopener, I did meet a LOT of T4 trousits, it was hilarious at first but soon it became irritating, One gentleman was so adamant to click a pic with me , for some reason I would not mind if it was some hot Lady, but after a couple of clicks it was becoming embarrassing.

    Then another irritating thing was when they would come over and ask "are you indian".. I mean duhhhhhhhh my brown skin surly would say I am not white Surly ...

    and When i have to go I am lazy and often am seen putting my clothes in a bag as the taxi is standing outside ready to take me to the airport.


    Bikram's

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    1. Oh boy, you are one of London's tourist attractions!

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