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Guidelines for every globetrotter

As part of ‘Travel Talk’, a series of discussions relating to travel hosted by Ramchandra Prabhu Salgaonkar in association with the International Centre Goa, ‘Travel Etiquette and Indians’, a panel discussion featuring Shaun Jeffery, Atool Mulgaonkar and chef Kunal Arolkar will be held today, August 10 at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at International Centre Goa, Dona Paula.

The discussion was organised in light of a recent viral video that portrays Indian travellers poorly.

Speaking about the video that depicts an Indian family stealing from a hotel in Bali, Salgaonkar says blaming will not help. “Strong steps have to be taken to educate Indians on travel etiquette and strict punishments have to be imposed. There has to be a change in the way Indians behave and speak in public.” To address this issue, Salgaoncar has also introduced a course titled ‘Travel Appreciation’ at Goa University. “Our curriculum teaches us history, geography and mathematics, etc, but not basic life skills. Incidents like Bali have a detrimental effect not only on the image of Indians outside India but also affect the tourism prospects of our country,” he adds.

The first speaker of the panel discussion is Atool Mulgaonkar. General manager of Radisson Goa, Candolim, Mulgaonkar comes armed with a rich experience of 28 years in the hotel industry. He will be sharing his thoughts on the behaviour of Indians.

Drawing from his own experience, he says that Indians are less sensitive to other guests in hotels and restaurants when it comes to table manners and general etiquette.  “Another very important aspect is the lack of respect towards the hotel staff; they tend to treat them as personal servants,” he adds.

UK-based landscape designer and author, Shaun Jeffery has been splitting his life between the UK and Goa for 14 years. He has travelled extensively around India but considers Panaji to be his second home.

According to him, from an objective perspective there is no shortage of poor behaviour and a failure to adjust to local cultural norms in tourists of all backgrounds – it’s not just Indians.

He shares the three Rs that every traveller, irrespective of country, needs to keep in mind: recognition, represent and respect.

“Remember that you are a guest, and just because you are paying a sum of money it doesn’t entitle you to behave as you please. Secondly, when travelling, remember that you are representing your state as well as your country. Finally, the most important quality to define your behaviour when travelling is respect. As a traveller you are always a guest and your domestic norms may not be appreciated elsewhere,” he says.

Armed with 15 plus years of experience, head chef Kunal Arolkar of Foodybreaks Bakery and Academy has travelled and worked across Europe, Asia and Africa which has vastly impacted his perception of food, people, culture and the different ways in which we connect with each other.

During his travels, he noticed that there were largely two sets of Indians, one elite class that was well bred, polished and refined in their tastes and discourse while the other were the nouveau riche, who really wanted to be class but just ended up ruining their chances, with their loud conversations, disrespectful manners and an entitled behaviour. Although this is common to most nationalities, Indians excel at becoming ‘value-for-money extremists’, he says.

“As a hotelier, I have faced many situations where certain guests try to steal hotel merchandise, electricals, fixtures and fittings and even linen, and then there are a few who will actually do up their rooms before leaving. Fortunately, we have both sides of the spectrum in this particular issue, which makes me optimistic that adequate training at an early age will certainly help people realise their wrongs before they commit them,” he adds.

(The panel discussion will be held today at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at ICG, Dona Paula. It is free and open to all. Details: 9923388999)

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