The Grateful Tourist

I read this interesting article on a blog. I am quoting a part I liked in particular while describing a certain class of tourists. I know them too well, from having seen them not only in European tourist highlights like Paris and Rome, but also in my own country (substitute the chicken with a panhandler).

The Tactful Tourist.

The worst kind of tourists are the ones that make your skin crawl. You know you’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even been one. They can frequently be seen standing in the middle of oncoming traffic, taking a picture of a chicken. They pack their suitcases and leave their brains at home. Everything they see is there to perform for them. They have no concept of island time and are in a hurry although they are on vacation (wouldn’t want to miss dinner reservations.) They planned this trip solely so they can brag later to their friends. They want everything to be like home but different. They came here because things are different, but it makes them uncomfortable.

I always think it is nice of local folks when they treat tourists kindly, with patience. For example, Rome surprised me with many nice gestures from the local people, on roads, in metros, in buses, from the officers of the monuments (who have really trying days, I am sure), which was totally unexpected for me.

I never take the locals for granted, and I do not think they owe me anything. No matter that a large part of the national income is from tourists for a certain country, I still think the large percent of boorish and dopy intruders in one’s city and daily life does have the capacity to irk the common people. And I being a very territorial person with a large bubble of privacy, understand this. I think politeness is one thing, and actually going out of your way to be nice to a tourist is a great thing, even if a single person does it to me.

I loved Rome for this reason too, apart from the great things there.

And that is one think I have encountered as a tourist in Denmark and Portugal too. In fact I miss Portugal so much (due to the affection I got from the friends of the road) that I am right now fighting an impulse to go to Lisbon for the Christmas holidays.

Living as an expat, one may find thousands of unhappy things to say about each country, and Denmark is no exception, it has its fair share of unhappy expats, especially due to the innately insular nature of the society here. But as a tourist, I have met kind people. And as a resident too, I am lucky to have met many nice people.

8 thoughts on “The Grateful Tourist

  1. themoonstone

    That is so true ! Unfortunately most times tourists just cannot avoid being spotted as ‘tourists’ but they can certainly avoid acting ‘touristy’.A mentioned about his trip to Mauritius where some of the people with him went with a checklist of places to see and ended up disappointed as it just so much like ‘home’ and ‘is this why we paid a bomb’ and most of time they were in a hurry to cover places instead of enjoying the place itself..

    1. Nomad Post author

      Yes, it has to be paisa wasool exotic, na, bhai.

      That reminds me, my mother used to tell us an amusing story, which by the virtue of its timelessness, interestingness and philosophical value, has even given rise to a certain bangla expression in our family. That is how new expressions are born. Like I remember “jor denge….err… ghata denge” classmate of yours (ohm’s law?) gave rise to “jor denge/ ghata denge” for me.

      My mother, with her sisters, and their cook (a lady in her thirties or forties perhaps), went to see the Victoria Memorial Hall (a magnificent museum) in Kolkata. My mom who is very interested in art, history and historical buildings and the like, asked the cook if she liked it. The cook looked around wisely and replied, “Shob i poisaar khela” (sab paise ka hi khel hai). I can imagine the dismayed gasp of my mother.

      So it is for many of the tourists. They don’t really appreciate the true worth of the beauty, whether man made or natural.

  2. Reema

    “TO BE A TOURIST is to escape accountability. Errors and failings don’t cling to you the way they do back home. You’re able to drift across continents and languages, suspending the operation of sound thought. Tourism is the march of stupidity. You’re expected to be stupid. The entire mechanism of the host country is geared to travelers acting stupidly. You walked around dazed, squinting into fold-out maps. You don’t know how to talk to people, how to get anywhere, what the money means, what time it is, what to eat or how to eat it. Being stupid is the pattern, the level and the norm. You can exist on this level for weeks and months without reprimand or dire consequence. Together with thousands, you are granted immunities and broad freedoms. You are an army of fools, wearing bright polyesters, riding camels, taking pictures of each other, haggard, dysentric, thirsty. There is nothing to think about but the next shapeless event.”
    ― Don DeLillol

  3. umashankar

    Beautiful post with so many promising elements. I have noted to veer towards Portugal whenever I set foot in Europe. Or else, I’d make myself content with the colonial vestiges of Goa.

    One can recoil from, reconcile with, adapt to, appreciate and love the broad flavours of humanity and its numerous shades viewed through our own unique prisms. Then these flavours evolve and mutate over time too. They have surely changed form the times of Marco Polo and Fa Hien. However, the pesky variants are the most irritating beings. Pesky tourists too.

    1. Nomad Post author

      Thank you, US. So true, what you have said.

      Southern Europe is indeed beautiful and rich in many different ways, if one wishes to enjoy the people too in addition to sights.


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