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American citizen of Indian origin traveling in Europe.

I am a US citizen originally from India, and have lived in the US for over 25 years. I love travel,but I am concerned about the current attitude of Europeans towards folks like me. I am imagining a lot of animosity, probably in view of the recent terror attacks. An American of Indian origin can at best look like a middle eastern, if not South American. I have traveled a lot in Germany and England several times in the past, and even recently in Switzerland, and did not face any problem. I am apprehending that the situation may have become worse in recent days, especially in France, which is where I want to go next! May be it is all my imagination!

My American passport will easily get me across all the borders, but what about the day to day interactions with the locals? Any thoughts will be highly appreciated.

Thanks
Vam

Posted by
15566 posts

Gee, Europe is full of tourists actually visiting from India.

Posted by
6073 posts

I don't think you need to worry about anything. There is no current negative cultural attitude toward Indians in Europe. Locals you'll likely interface with in heavily touristed European countries are very used to and comfortable with tourists of all nationalities and in no way would mistake you for anything other than a tourist (especially since you'll be doing tourists things which are very predictable). Plus, large cities like Paris have multiethnic, non-white populations themselves. I think you're suffering from an overload of negative media reporting, which is skewing your outlook. Please shake this off as what it is, and don't worry.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for the quick response! I am greatly relieved to hear your candid opinion :-)

Vam

Posted by
6073 posts

If you do end up going to France, keep in mind that the French like to be addressed/greeted more formally, as in... "Bonjour Monsieur" and "Bonjour Madame". So it will really help to learn a few simple pleasantries in French before you go (easily found in a small phrasebook like Rick Steves, etc.). If you are polite, you will be treated accordingly.

Posted by
8889 posts

An Indian (or at least the ones I have met) does not look like someone from the middle east. There are enough of both (and people from the rest of the world) living in Europe that nobody will give you a second glance.

"I am imagining a lot of animosity, probably in view of the recent terror attacks." - That is totally in your imagination.
If you have a US accent, as soon as you open your mouth you will be classified as just another US tourist.

Posted by
12084 posts

Do you plan on going to non-tourist small towns? No problems, I would not be concerned at all.

Posted by
2762 posts

An Indian (or at least the ones I have met) does not look like someone from the middle east.

While I agree, there are clearly some who do not. Such as the American who shot 2 Indian men in Kansas last year. Before he was caught, he told a bartender that "he needed a place to hide because he had just killed two Middle Eastern men." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Olathe,_Kansas_shooting

As to the OP's question, I would think that you'd be safer in Europe than you would be in the US.

Posted by
8889 posts

@Robert, The person who who shot 2 Indian men in Kansas thinking they were Middle Eastern clearly had never lived in France, or anywhere else in Western Europe, where there are plenty of people of Indian origin, Middle Eastern or anywhere else in the World.

With a bit of practice you can even tell German from Swiss from Italian from Welsh from Hungarian etc., so Middle Eastern from Indian is easy. And even Southern Indian, they are a lot darker.
Except it is getting more difficult, as so many families are now mixed.

To get back to Vam's original question, no problem, have no anxieties.

Posted by
5239 posts

Agree with Robert's assessment -- you might be safer from harassment in Europe than some places in the U.S. (sadly!)

Posted by
987 posts

I'm going to echo some of the above comments. You are probably safer as a tourist in Europe than as a citizen here in the US.

Posted by
6387 posts

Native Afro-American male just traveled through small towns in Perigord, France during Xmas break; I ate at restaurants went to grocery stores cafes etc., It is completely chill compared to the USA

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks to all of you who responded! Now I feel free and relaxed at the thought of travel through Europe!!
And thanks, Rick Steves, for your site and the forum you have created - useful beyond compare!

Thanks again,
Vam

Posted by
1 posts

Hi,

My experiences as a dark skinned Australian of Indian origin has been a challenge at times whilst traveling through Italy and yet to travel through the Greek Islands.

I’d like to add that there was never a moment of extreme discrimination where I felt that I was in danger nor refused entry into a venue or declined a request based on my ethnicity.

Rather, ie. with the locals... In hotels, restaurants, shops and ferries as examples I felt people were bit shocked and assume I was a Bangladeshi who are causing lots of problems in Italy. But when I spoke little Italian and English they understood I was a traveling tourist. As an example, my hotel in Rome and Florence I was asked several times to show them my room key to confirm I was a guest but I noticed this didn’t occur to the Caucasian guests.

My experience with other tourists they were hesitant around me this included other English speakers. I believe this is due to the fact in Italy, there is an issue with illegal migrants from Africa and Bangladesh who are busking on the streets, annoying tourists trying to sell fake goods and even committing petty crimes. So when they see a person of color especially a male they automatically become cynical and apprehensive towards you.

As noted in this tread, overall my experience has been positive then negative. But discrimination towards dark skinned males are difinetly real ... well at least in Italy.