To see the woman in the bikini he travels great distances to the Goan coast where he sits on the beach in his morose underwear with that Y-front as though he wishes to convey ‘two roads diverged in the wood and I…’ On his lap, like an infant, is his high-carb belly filled with subsidised grain, and the other sugars of his recent economic progress.
He is drunk and one opportunity away from becoming a molestor.
He is with friends, he is almost always with friends, and they are a lot like him. Sometimes he walks behind white women asking to take selfies with them, holding their waists. For some reason he is more respectful towards mothers in bikinis. Mostly he makes fun of the women, says a Hindustan Times report.
He is everywhere these days in every site that the ‘Incredible India’ campaign asks foreigners to visit in the foreign media. The hysteria around the rumour that the campaign would have a new brand ambassador is fundamentally pointless because, eventually, no matter which film star endorses India, when the tourists land the true brand ambassador of the nation would be that gawking man who, like RK Laxman’s Common Man, is in every frame of India, commenting, elbowing, slowly scratching his crotch, stalking women on the beach with a bottle in his hand.
He was always around but his new financial progress, though modest, is making him move more than ever. Once, he had to wait in his hometown to see the white tourists. When he travelled at all on leisure it was usually with family on pilgrimage. God and vacation, two at the price of one. Now he and his friends hire a Sumo and go places. They live in the vehicle, they bathe and shit wherever they can. They cannot be hidden or shooed away anymore. They may not be able to encroach into the private spaces of high-end tourists but they are not afraid anymore to share public spaces with them. They are more reassured than ever of their rights.
If it were mandatory for tourism advertisements to publish risk factors, they would have been mentioned in the fine-print of all Incredible India ads. They are living reminders of the fact that high-end tourism in a poor nation is a vulgar phenomenon. There are bound to be tourist-reality conflicts.