April 9, 2014 by Preeks
Every 3rd day, some 10 people on my Facebook timeline share this link and tag their friends, with the comment – “Lets do this!!”. I am talking about this link: 30 Off-Beat Places to Visit in India Before You Turn 30
I diligently go through the list every time and quite valiantly, tell myself that I would, some day cover these 30 places, with Sherlock of course. In the meantime though, I somehow, always find myself in the exact opposite of off-beat locations. The mainstream tourist destinations. I don’t know how.
I am not complaining. Mainstream tourist destinations have so much fodder for laughter! Last week, I ended up in Udaipur, with 6 hours to kill before a flight. So I sauntered around to City Palace. And there they were. The multitudes of tourists.
There is no chance in living hell, that you walk into such a popular tourist destination and don’t run into the school picnic gang. A herd of super-excited school kids, who have been allowed to deviate from their uniform for one whole day in the year. It’s hard to miss this category of tourists. A strong smell of strawberry bubble-gum mixed with potato chips, bright new clothes and shoes, a squealing, hapless teacher behind them. They make quite a scene, you know?
I remember when I was a kid, the night before the picnic, I used to sleep with that bag in front of my eyes. The bag with bubble gums, chips and Coke. There is a whole psychology behind the mixed smells of bubble gum and chips. You pop a bubble gum into your mouth, because, you know, its freedom day and chewing like a cow is the ultimate epitome of freedom. And then, suddenly someone opens a bag of chips. You cannot refuse, because, you know, refusing potato chips is like blasphemy. And hence, you just pop the chips in, with the gum, despite Mummy’s voice in your head that says, never swallow the gum. Its a whole new different flavor and very typical of 10 year old kids on school picnics.
The teacher, is a different story altogether. She dresses differently than everyday. She uses shades that day. She wears jeans. She is visibly excited in the morning, only to regret in the afternoon. All she says, or rather scream, during the day is:
“DO NOT TOUCH THAT.”
“HAATH PAKAD KE CHALO.”
“SUNAI NAHI DETA KYA??”
Oh god! There was one point, where I was looking closely at a sword used by Maharaja Rana Sanga and I was surrounded by little boys ogling at a small red speck on the blade and wondering if its real blood and suddenly, I heard this scream. “DOOOOOR KHADE HO. SAMAJH NAHI AATA KYA?”.
I swear, I felt goosebumps. I immediately jumped back, along with those boys.
I really don’t get the purpose of getting school kids to museums. They are not interested. The teacher is not interested. Noone is teaching. Noone is learning. Calling that fun, even remotely, is wrong. The teacher’s only objective is to somehow, finish a cursory glance over all artifacts, without her boys causing any damage to anything.
The kids on the other hand, are once in a while interested in something. But that scream which accompanies any hand movement. *Shudder*
So then, they just stick to ambling along all the halls. Trying to stamp on each other’s new shoes. Trying to figure out exactly what makes the teacher look different today. Wondering what it would take to look like that foreigner taking so many pictures. Giggling when the foreigner points the camera to them.
I was, of course, glad they were there. Gave me some entertainment!
The other tourist segment, you just cannot miss, is the selfie gang! This would generally comprise of 18-25 year old youth. Who grumbled when they were bought to Palaces and Museums on school picnics, but now, since it is a “road trip”, think it is infinitesimally cool and hence, deserves a selfie and a Facebook update.
I wouldn’t know much about selfies, since I never got the concept behind them. But, really. You must follow this gang around a tourist destination, to get a crash course. They know exactly how to pose. They know which spots can get them the most likes on Facebook. They know where to attract the maximum attention. They know when to put on the shades and when to stick it up on the head. They are geniuses. In other words.
I had one embarrassing moment, when I was so swayed by this art, I was standing right in front of a couple of guys taking a selfie in front of some decorated horse. I was staring at their mobile screen which was pointed away from them, trying to see how they look in the frame. I didn’t realize, I was actually staring at them, standing right in front of them. I think my mouth was also open in amazement, because I do remember wondering why they weren’t smiling for the selfie. Till I realized, they were feeling uncomfortable with my staring. Heh. Too bad.
Anyway, so that’s the selfie gang.
Then there are the other typical tourists – conducted tour gang, usually Telugu or Gujjus. Sharing water bottles, sneaking out theplas from their bags, loudly commenting in their language about the ridiculous outfit of the King and giggling at the Queen’s Bed size and wondering what all happened on it. *Wink* *Nudge* *Wink*
There are so many more categories, but this post is getting longer than what normal human attention can hold. So I will stop here. Next time, I think I will indulge you a little bit information about Tourist guides. Excited? You must be.
But seriously, do you really think some godforsaken tent in Jaisalmer or some secluded waterfall in MP would give you this, unadulterated entertainment? I should start a viral link on 30 Must-Visit Typical, Commercial, Tourist Destinations, which will make you laugh. Please do share.