Indians in Bali: The ‘New Americans’?

Travel Blog  •  Liz Sinclair  •  10.30.07 | 7:04 AM ET

In the wake of the Bali bombings, the country’s traditional tourists—Americans, Australians and Europeans—started to vacation elsewhere. Asians from countries such as India, experiencing rapid economic growth, filled the gap. But as Karim Raslan notes in a recent article for the Financial Times, there’s something familiar about these tourists. They often behave with the same cultural elitism that characterized the stereotypical American, becoming, as Raslan calls them, the “New Americans.”

I’ve been living in Bali for four months and I see “New Americans” everywhere here, with their loud voices and rude treatment of locals. But they’re not just Indian. They also come from other islands of Indonesia.

Still, Raslan maintains there is something different about the Indian experience in Bali from that of other tourists, even from that other Indonesians, who are largely Muslim.

Most Indians share the Hindu faith with the Balinese and are familiar with rural village life. As as result, Raslan believes that Indian visitors to Bali are generally more sympathetic and open to the culture, and more welcomed by the Balinese.

Writes Raslan: “Indians may well be the ‘new Americans’ but in Bali among fellow Hindus their softer side emerges amid the surprising capacity of the island to adapt to changing forces of global culture, faith and economics.”

Australia-based Liz Sinclair is living in Bali, learning Indonesian, volunteering as a grant writer for a maternal and child health center for the poor and writing about Australia and Asia, with an emphasis on Indonesia and interfaith issues. She has written for The Melbourne Age, The Big Issue, Australia, The Brunei Times, The Evening Standard and Islands magazine.

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