Monday, January 27, 2020


Indian passport is not felt welcome in most countries in the world. I practically need a visa almost everywhere I travel. While some countries are sweet (like they allow me to get a visa on arrival), most expect me to give hundreds of documents to prove my intentions of visiting them, and also that I will make my way "out" of their country. I need to prove I have sufficient funds, I need to book my flights, my hotel tickets, medical insurance, travel insurance and above all provide itinerary of what I am going to do there, even on the weekends in between. And then to top it all some countries also require my last 10 years travel history!

This is annoying at least and downright humiliating at worst. I remember one particular nasty visa interview in which I told the officer that I ain't interested in visiting your country, if not for my business trip. She didn't like my answer, and I got a visa that was valid for exactly the dates of my meetings.

Anyway, this blog-post isn't about that. It's about the citizens of these privileged countries that come to south-east Asia unchecked (as a virtue of their passports). They have no money, no return tickets and then they go around most of Asia by begging. You can go Google "begpackers" and look for yourself the photos that vividly explain what I am saying. A lose definition of begpackers (beggars + backpackers) would be  - people from first world countries travelling to poorer countries in Asia and asking for money to continue their journey. The reason they can enter the country in the first place is because of their privileged passport.

My office in Singapore is in a touristy area, and I also occasionally pass such privileged travelers on my lunch break. I guess Singapore is much more stricter than it's south-east Asian neighbors so you see it more often in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and of-course Bali. Most (if not all) of these "beg packers" I can only guess based on their skin color come from the privileged western countries.

Anyway, I completely understand why the visa system is currently the way it is. And I don't think there is any easy solution for what I feel is fundamentally unfair (classifying people just on the basis of their place of origin). However, till this can be sorted out by a better system, I guess, my fellow Indians and people with not so privileged passports will continue to suffer and get annoyed by the privileged begpackers.

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