A vacation, a break, a getaway. As exhilarating as these terms may sound, there comes a lot of responsibility of being mindful, respectful and aware of things around you.
Having visited over 9 countries till yet, I have now started to understand that as much as we may believe in "atithi devo bhava" - a term deep to our Indian cultural and that explains the dynamics of a host and a guest relationship, and that one must treat the guest like God, we need to be wary of the behavioral and attitudinal reciprocation as a guest - in another country, in another city.
In due course, I may have not become the best of a tourist, but it has definitely brought in a lot of changes, rather improvements. Here are the 5, which I am proud of:
1. Read about the Do's and Don'ts: We, as Indians specially, have this fair belief that every thing is fine and acceptable in the West, European countries.....anywhere apart from our own country. Well, for those who have been out, will know that this is not true. We sometime fail to distinguish between the meaning of being open minded, liberal and being fine with everything.
Secondly, we also at times proudly 'be what we are'. Meaning, why must we change for someone else or in somebody else's place. But that does not apply to a tourist. We need to understand that as a tourist we are in someone else's territory, some one else's home land which they love and respect. So it is our duty to be one with them in that. And no, it does not take away the love and respect we have for our own homeland. It is never this or that. The rules, the regulations, the way we greet, we thank, we walk, we eat - everything must be congruous to the way that place is used to.
So, do know the do's and the don'ts before you visit any place, specially a new country. It will save you from getting into awkward situations, some embarrassments, and in stricter countries, from getting into real trouble.
2. Keep some No-Agenda days: This is really important I feel when you are doing a trip. I avoid having all my days packed up with one sight seeing schedule only so that I can really just explore and absorb the city. This will also help you implement the following point.
3. Try out the Local: This is something that one would any way do, but one must ensure not to miss on it by any chance. And by saying this I don't mean only try the local food. I mean to move around like the locals do. It is that when you really get the feel of the place you are visiting.
4. Do not convert: Yes!! this is the point we all like doing. The all time live calculator in our mind whenever we see a price tag in Euros, USD, Sterling or any international currency. The higher the conversion rate, the faster the mind calculator works. But this is a big no no. Ofcourse I used to do it myself. And sometimes now as well, when the price tag is a big one. But then I release that you lose the charm of visiting that place. Because all you're are keeping track of how much have you spent in Rupees. And how much you could have bought had you been back in India. This takes away of the fun. But I believe and the change that I have made is that I do not convert now, and it feels good. (Needless to stay, you should definitely plan your monies)
5. Do not compare: This is the last and the recent one. But a satisfying change that I brought in my traveling around. It is human nature to compare, and specially when the prefix is 'my and their'. But this is not the objective, isn't it? We do not visit other places only to list down the comparisons between the place you come from and the place you have visited. Unless you have some revolutionary plans to implement something that you take back from this new place (very few of us have that, right? ) Jokes apart, this is rather a wrong way to appreciate the place you visit. One needs to see and identify the place in its own spirit, with the background it has and with the culture it follows. That is when you tend to learn newer things, and are open to absorb and admire the place you have chosen to visit.
The dictionary meaning of Tourist is a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure. Read PLEASURE again. But it becomes pleasure only when everything is taken in as is, without any expectation and comparisons.
With the above 5 changes, I have been really able to gather some amazing memories and the right sense to cherish them.