American Tourists

American tourist satire

This picture is a mannequin from a church in India, telling you that you’re not allowed to take pictures of anything in this area. I found it so funny that I took a picture of the mannequin anyways, and then got yelled at for taking pictures in the place where you’re not supposed to take any pictures. Oh well, I think it was worth it.

But this brings me to thoughts about American tourists around the world. I’ve been abroad without my family twice: once to India on a study abroad summer program, and once to Europe with my roommate from William and Mary, Kenny. And I would like to think that we did not behave like typical American tourists.

It comes down to being respectful. In India, its fairly obvious who is a citizen of India and who is a tourist; the color of your skin is usually a pretty good indicator(although not always). But as long as you are willing to try and learn local customs, like when you need to take off your shoes, what hand you’re supposed to eat with, etc., have an open mind about the things you are doing, and don’t make yourself the most important thing, you’re going to be fine. While we were in Mumbai, we walked through a market and then through a poorer neighborhood. However, we looked like we knew what we were doing, didn’t panic, but more importantly, weren’t taking pictures, making loud comments, etc. And we got through just fine, even though it probably wasn’t our smartest decision. The American professor and his wife who came with us had a much harder time getting out of their typical mindsets. They were expecting more of the conveniences of American life to be present.

In Europe, I think that its easier to be the “typical American tourist” because the culture is more similar to American culture. And when people don’t find what they expect, they get irate. My way of approaching it is to expect things a lot of things to be different but some to be the same and just roll with the punches. As long as you’re willing to adapt quickly and don’t insist on things being the way they are at home, you’re going to be fine. The whole point of going abroad is to enjoy the ways the things are different from the way they are in your country.

An old photo that I love

Back Bay, Mumbai

This is an old picture that I love, from when I went to India for 6 weeks for a study abroad over the summer of 2007. It was a great experience, and I would love to go back to India. We took a weekend trip to Mumbai, and this is a picture from the Chowpatty beach over the Back Bay. We actually stayed near the Taj Mahal hotel that was attacked earlier this year. This is also the first picture that I’ve properly set up to be hosted on flickr. I’ve done this for multiple reasons: firstly, because hosting these pictures on my own home webserver would clobber my bandwith if I ever get to even like 5 readers a day. Having flickr take the bandwith hit for all of the images will let me get up to like 10 hits a day before my server dies. I’ve also decided to get into something that a lot of archivists have been into recently. And honestly, I think its a way better photo hosting solution than facebook, especially the flickr pro (which I’m probably going to sign up for something soon.). In flickr, you get to keep copyright control over your images; I’ve decided to make them available under the same license that my written work on this website is under, the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. This means that you can take the image or my words and use them for whatever you want as long as you don’t make money off of it and as long as you give me credit for having created it. It also has, and this is what makes me more interested from an archival perspective, the folksonomy part. People from all over the world can help you develop your metadata for these objects. If you don’t know where the photo is from, you can put it up and hopefully someone will find it and add information about it. Now, that might not happen much, but whenever it does that makes it worthwhile. The flickr pro account also allows you to have access to the original image size, which makes it a possiblity for the primary interaction patrons have with the object. If you upload a digital image to a flickr pro account, people can look at the same image that the creator took.