Bali cutlery-lifting: Let’s not overdo the India-shamed bit, there’s nary a traveller who hasn’t thought of it

I love the fact that so many folks are ashamed of the Indian family caught stealing cutlery from a hotel in Bali. They have been made out to be thieves of the first order and one would think they have robbed Fort Knox or engaged in the second great train robbery.

They are not Bonnie and Clyde, they are just typical middle class or a bit higher tourists grabbing souvenirs of their trip. Of course, it is theft but it is a kind of whatever, look at the prices we are paying, kuchh tho memory ke liye le chalo. And this is not just about Indians, so get over it. It is a global tourist thing and easy to justify. Like, “who will use a used soap-let…I wouldn’t, so let me take it, it’s good for the environment as well” or “what’s the point in leaving behind a used toothbrush and a half-squeezed toothpaste tube, the hotel will have to junk it anyway”, or “that shampoo bottle is all of 2 ml and it’s empty, surely the hotel wouldn’t mind…”, etc., etc.

 Bali cutlery-lifting: Let’s not overdo the India-shamed bit, there’s nary a traveller who hasn’t thought of it

Staff of a hotel in Bali checking the luggage of Indian guests accused of stealing items from the hotel. Image courtesy @rananth/Twitter

Show me the hotel guest who hasn’t thought of swiping a fluffy white towel from the swimming pool or the bathroom and don’t tell me you haven’t had that dirty little thought that the cotton robe in the cupboard would be a dandy thing to take home. You have to be a better man than me, Gunga Din, if you haven’t swiped a couple of pairs of those silly slippers made of paper and felt oh so good doing it. And hey, what about the stylized coat hangers that fetch up in the suitcase?

We won’t even go into the toilet where those little mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion cheerfully find their way into the bag and fly five thousand miles to be regally placed on your bathroom shelf, evidence that you were abroad. Kilroy was there, don’t you know?

The mindset is simple. The theft part is filtered out of your mind and uploaded is the premise that you are only taking a keepsake. Come on, we are not thieves.

I once went on a fam trip where everything was paid for and one of the folks with us had his bag burst at checkout and spilling from the seams were 26 miniature bottles of booze.

Wedding guests are legendary at making their host squirm when he sees the bill. Many years ago on a New Year dawn three officers took a bet to see how many toilet rolls they could conceal under their winter coats and they set about raiding the bathroom of the 5-star hotel. It would have been quite a lark but as they moved across the lobby in a fairly inebriated mood one of the toilet rolls got undone and unfurled itself in front a hundred guests. You do not want to hear the rest of the story.

Around the world guests justify their otherwise muted klepto gene. Airlines have all sealed colognes in the toilets because they were taken in minutes.

It is not just Indians it is universal so no need of the sackcloth and ashes routine. Amongst the more popular items that find their way into luggage are hairdryers, soaps, even paintings on the wall, pillows, crystal glasses, parts of chandeliers, weighing scales, alarm clocks and plates, spoons and forks and knives and cruet sets from room service dining. And butter dishes and napkins.

Psychology explains it as an aberration because of the surreal atmosphere of a high-end hotel or an airline where there is a disconnect in the guests. Overwhelmed by the luxury and the unreality they get Fagin fingers.

But the cake goes to a very rich lady who spilled six apples, two oranges and a banana from her carry bag taken from the gratis fruit basket given to special guests.

Sobering thought is from a manager of a Holiday Inn: journalists are the worst. They tend to pocket everything not bolted to the floor. Oops.

Updated Date: Jul 30, 2019 16:47:44 IST