The first-ever all-Indians cruise ship to Antarctica will start sailing this December. A three-trillion tonne chunk of Larsen C broke away on Wednesday in protest, grumbling #notinmyname. Or maybe it has taken it upon itself to stand in the way of this approaching monster and its beloved land. Who wants a giant boat full of Indians? Not me. Not Baby Larsen C.
Most of us love to travel and would want to go both on a cruise, and to Antarctica, but imagine the horror of travelling in an enclosed space surrounded only by fellow Indians. What will this cruise be like?
There are reliable reports of rajma-chawal being among the prime culinary attractions. The air will warm up significantly after 200 Indians have eaten rajma for 11 days – does no one care about the environment? Isn’t it enough to see Haryana-sized icebergs breaking off the white continent? Indians produce enough gas on social media every day without the help of rajma, for heaven’s sake.
But there will be more than just rajma of course. I imagine there will be live dhokla counters. 24/7 dhokla. Dhokla three ways. Dhokla and chai pairings. There will be no wine, of course, because it is anti-national, but there will be a gau-mutra bar for the hardcore drinkers.
On these luxury ships, there are usually three or four types of evening entertainment options: instead of a western musical there will be a dandiya performance. On Level 0 there will be a discourse on how Indians discovered much more than the zero, but the largest entertainment option will be the Photoshop room leading into a wifi-enabled Whatsapp room. The show must go on.
Jokes apart, by providing services like this we take the adventure out of an adventure holiday. The whole point of travelling far and wide is to meet strangers, eat strange food, get to know other strange people and their strange customs – you don’t travel three continents to eat bhelpuri.
Only a fraction of the world’s tourist population is able to visit Antarctica, thanks to the strict environmental rules and costs involved, and if your focus on this voyage is on food – whether you will get halal lasagne or vegetable biryani – then you shouldn’t be allowed to step on the precious land.
I used to crib about Indians travelling with their own chef but at least they would still meet people from other countries while travelling – this is one step worse than that. What next? An only-Bengalis cruise? A Hindutva cruise? (Are Hindutvawadis allowed to have fun?)
The Indian tourism industry must stop catering to the bad habits of Indians. One of our last feeble hopes for a better India is that some of us will go outside and see that there’s much more to life than cricket, rajma-chawal, dhokla and denying bigotry. Such services are killing that hope by keeping Indians within a mini-India all the while they go half way across the world and come back.
You can’t take a few foreigners in a foreign land? Just stay at home and eat rajma-chawal and photoshop yourself onto the remaining bits of Antarctica. See you on Twitter.