When I checked out of the hotel in Bali, I was asked at the Reception if I had used any of the stuff kept in the refrigerator. I had taken a bottle of water. I was told to pay 18000 Indonesian Rupiah ( Rs 75/-) as the Mineral water bottles kept in the toilet was complementary and not the one in the fridge. There was no checking to see if I was telling the truth or not. They accepted my word without a doubt. I am so used to the Indian hotel system, where someone from housekeeping usually comes to check your room discretely, after you have checked out and reports to the reception.
My Indian co passengers in Singapore Airlines, Garuda and Thai Airways were well behaved and seasoned travellers. A far cry from the people I encountered in flights during my childhood.
What can I say? The Indian traveler has arrived.
The Indian has truly become International. He/She is very street savvy and you see none of the animosity towards Indians that you encountered earlier.
Today I dropped into one of the Malls in Bangalore after a long time. Malls make me breathless with the severe lack of Oxygen due to the crowds. So I quickly finished my shopping and waited for my friend to finish her shopping at leisure. I love watching people. It is an old pastime.
When Mota Royal Arcade, Bangalore’s first Mall opened, there was a huge rush to see the mall. It was considered cool to hang out here and since my school is close by, we spent many hours gazing awestruck at the stores and displays. Those days, Malls had a snoot element. Only the very rich shopped here. The rest, mostly did window shopping and saved their hard earned money for Commercial Street.
Sales girls at these malls, mostly from the lower middle class families, were a vicious lot and acted catty with women buyers. It was a typical reaction of jealousy, to see people spending so much money. I've had many tiffs myself with these girls as they picked on us girls in their irritation. One typical gesture was to show you the most expensive item. And when you asked for a cheaper range, they would look at you like you with disdain and giggle mockingly. It gave them vicarious pleasure to pull you down :p
Today the scene has changed. Everyone has money. Every one shops at Malls and there is no keeping up with the Joneses factor left. Even the sales girls are a polite lot. They earn handsome commissions and do not resent people with money. Money ironically, has become the great leveler.
During my stay at Singapore, Jakarta and Bali, the television was mostly dominated with news of the ecological disaster facing humans. While the very same channels in India, concentrated on stock market prices and promos of consumer goods, their far East sister Channels focused on the Environment.
Watching the news for a week, made me realize that the good times are over. While we scramble to gorge on our new found consumerism, the west has already finished partying and is getting ready for the clean up. We have arrived a trifle too late at the party.
God bless the Bali Climate Conference!