NROP: When in Rome… – A guide to getting arrested abroad.

How do you act if you get invited into someone’s home?

The host might tell you to “make yourself at home,” but do you really? I certainly do not. If I am visiting someone for the very first time, I am on my best behavior, observing the owners of the house to make sure that I follow their lead. I usually offer my help in cleaning up, but it is most often rejected. (Both sides play their parts right.) My goal is to leave their place in the same state that I found it in upon entering. That does not always happen because dishes need to be washed. Hopefully, everything else is left in order. 

It is natural to feel more comfortable at someone’s place if you have been there plenty of times before, and you know the host quite well. In those instances, you do not have to be on alert 100% of the time. You can relax a little and maybe even put your feet up if appropriate. I would like to think that you are still doing your best to be an ideal guest and not to offend your host. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you think if someone did this or that at YOUR home?

From a young age, I was told to look after my own possessions but to be even more careful with those that belong to others. It is easier to forget it or replace something that you break from your personal collection than to handle the guilt and embarrassment from destroying something that is not yours.

To me, those seem like common courtesies that translate well into bigger things in life. When I go abroad, I do not act as if I was in my home country. I keep in mind that I am merely a guest. First of all, I start preparing BEFORE I actually leave. Aside from reading about tourist attractions, I also read about the culture and customs. If you insist on staying inside your resort, you might think that no research is necessary. Please, check the hotel’s regulations, though. Depending on the population mix, you might be fine doing whatever you normally do at home. In such an instance, remember not to go outside the resort, though. If you do, be prepared to learn and adapt.

Once you arrive at your destination, try to keep the things you had learned in mind. Refresh your knowledge if necessary. I have a soft spot for pocket books that include all sorts of helpful information about the region I am visiting. (Do they still make those?) Keep your eyes and ears open. Observe and adapt. It might be alright to relax in some instances, but in others, you might have to straighten up your tie and get serious.

A woman from the UK was arrested in Maldives for refusing to cover up while on a public beach. She wore a bikini. A video shows a couple of officers trying to restrain the woman while another one tries to put a towel around her to cover her up. Throughout the whole time, the woman fights back and screams that she is being sexually assaulted. In the end, the men succeed in throwing a piece of cloth around her shoulders and take her away.

Maldives Police Service Commissioner Mohamed Hameed issued a statement in which he apologized to the woman and the public for the situation being handled poorly, and vowed to investigate the incident further. It was later reported that the Police had been alerted of the inappropriately dressed woman being inebriated by a call from a member of the public. In a memo the Police later issued, they wrote that: “Tourists on local islands are requested to respect the community’s cultural sensitivities and local regulations by restricting the wearing of swimwear to certain areas of the island.” They did apologize again for handling the situation incorrectly, though.

Maldives is an Islamic nation. You should know better than to walk around half naked in such a place. A website for the island the woman was visiting explicitly says: “The dress code is modest outside of tourist resorts as a sign of respect to the community. Maafushi has made special arrangements with the lsland Council for tourists to sunbathe in bikinis on the private tourist beach (available to all tourists on the island). This is discreetly tucked away behind some palm-leaf screens. This is very fortunate as the Maldivian law does not permit bikinis on most inhabited beaches.” Just because it is normal to wear a bikini where you are from, does not mean that it is allowed somewhere else.

As a kid, I always found it fun to learn a few basic words in the native language of the country to which I was travelling. Do you notice the smile of the locals when you say “Hello,” or “Thank you” in their language? I know I do. Yes, they know I am a tourist and that I do not speak their language fluently, but at least I tried. I have made great connections with people that way. Do not expect them to cater to you. Reach out to them first if you are on their turf.

Enjoy the places you visit, but remember that you are a guest in someone else’s home. Respect the people and the house.

Have you ever broken something that was not yours? How did it feel? What did you do?

Do you conduct any research before you travel abroad?

How do you prepare before travelling internationally?

Do you feel “at home” anywhere you go?

How would you react if someone asked you to “cover up” (or anything else) when on vacation abroad?

How do you think the Police officers should have reacted?

Stay golden,

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77 thoughts on “NROP: When in Rome… – A guide to getting arrested abroad.

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  1. A great piece and important points for both home and abroad. I don’t think I’ve ever broken anything of anyone else’s. Like you, I was raised to be careful of other people’s things. And to take care. I also like to learn a few native words before I travel. It’s just polite. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How to get arrested abroad 😂😂😂😂 A guide

    I usually try to be the perfect guest, even when told to feel at home yeah I don’t do what I would do at home, unless of course it’s a really good space where I absolutely vibe with.

    Some people have really cozy homes with relaxed rules while others are prim and proper you have to sit upright both feet firmly on the ground on the couch… Noooooo

    This situation could have definitely been handled better, also dont they have female officers or at least have a diplomatically trained unit that can tactfully deal with tourists without escalating an issue into a scene.

    ~B

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Discrimination? Well at least it could have brought down the “sexual harassment” allegations down (not saying female officers aren’t capable of (wo)manhandling … Equal opportunity distribution of potential to do bad)

        Yep a Crisis Negotiator who can defuse situations cause clearly there was a communication breakdown there but it may help if we saw how the situation developed like after the police arrived how exactly did that interaction play out until they decided to subdue, cover her up take her away and detain her for two hours.

        I read somewhere that she even grabbed sunglasses from the face of a police officer…

        Clearly she could have done with being a bit more sensitive to the culture and the police need to amp up their professionalism they not bouncers in a night club throwing out a drunk customer.

        ~B

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Well why would you want women to handle women? What do they have that men don’t? Discrimination. Plus, maybe that woman identifies as a man and prefers to be touched by a man?

          You’re right, we can’t be sure of the start. It is said that they approached her and asked to cover up, she refused and got aggressive. It would be interesting to see, though. As another person pointed out, it looks like her companion was there, trying to cover her up and talk some sense into her, but she wasn’t really listening. Interesting. I didn’t know about the sunglasses, but it doesn’t surprise me. She screamed “sexual harassment.” I mean, come on. It’s terrible but she’s the reason why some people don’t take such allegations seriously. It’s become a universal buzz phrase.

          Well, if you think about it, she is some sort of a customer in that country and she was drunk. The officers are there to maintain order. Great metaphor, B!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in a Muslim country and when I started living here I used to cover up more, though I still dress conservatively now but wear short sleeves in summer it is far too hot to do otherwise, it is adviseable to wear a thin jacket to prevent sunburn in the hotter months. You will find tourists in shorts wearing a scarf um. Better to cover the legs and wear a modest t-shirt.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I feel the video doesn’t show the beginning of the interaction. From what I saw the tourist is a drunk A**hole. I think the police handled it just fine. She clearly was putting up resistance and if the video was captured when they first approached her, I believe we would see they tried talking to her first. She’s the fool in getting drunk and walking down a public road practically naked in a culture that frowns upon her behavior. She’s a guest and clearly overstepped her boundaries.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think the lady in the video was being unreasonable since she was a visitor. If she did not know or read about the restrictions of bikinis, she should have followed the instructions of the officers. The video shows she was resisting, instead of listening.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am going to visit a Muslim country for the first time next month. I want to be sensitive to local customs and know that my shoulders and knees must be covered at all times. I think I need to do a little more research. Thanks for making me aware!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad I could help. Additional research is a good idea.
      I remember when my parents went to Rome years ago with their parish. Knowing they would be at the Vatican, they dressed in their Sunday bests. Not everyone did, though. They missed out on the Basilica due to no sleeves on shirts on short.

      Like

  7. A great read. We always try to learn a little of the language before we travel to foreign countries. People do appreciate it! We’ve been to Dubai a few times and just have to dress differently while there to be sensitive to the local customs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was in Dubai once, many many years ago, with a girlfriend. In retrospect perhaps we shouldn’t have been sunbathing on the beach. I did wonder at the time about the military types loitering nearby, carrying automatic rifles… maybe they were discussing whether to come over to us and say something! Our bad for not checking the local customs ahead of time… we were just young — but that’s no excuse really.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Have you ever broken something that was not yours? How did it feel? What did you do?

    I don’t think so—at least not that I recall.

    Do you conduct any research before you travel abroad?

    Tons. I create Pinterest boards with things I want to see/experience, typical phrases, customs, etiquette, and the like.

    How do you prepare before travelling internationally?

    See answer above.

    Do you feel “at home” anywhere you go?

    Uh, no. I don’t feel “at home” in many places at all.

    How would you react if someone asked you to “cover up” (or anything else) when on vacation abroad?

    Probably irritated and indignant. I am a fairly modest dresser in general, and check out what is customary before I travel, so I usually am aware of differences between my country and theirs.

    How do you think the Police officers should have reacted?

    A verbal explanation and offering a cover up, rather than physically touching her and, very likely, scaring the sh*t out of her. If this is a common enough occurrence, perhaps they could carry around a laminated explanation card in various languages so the “offender” could be made aware of the local laws and customs. I recognize other countries don’t observe the same unwritten “personal space” rules that we have in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean I won’t be uncomfortable, or even flat-out offended, in those other countries when they don’t maintain my personal comfort boundaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m always on guard in someone else’s home, even close classmates. It’s not my house. Having visitors to my house, I’m very relaxed. I would never allow, say, a drunken fight (I wouldn’t be friends with people like that, anyway). I had a home wedding in 2004 while living in Texas. My ex and I drank too much the night before and were suffering the hangover hell. A close friend of mine (who gave me away) attempted to fix everyone staying, breakfast. He melted my spatula in the process. He was mortified and kept apologizing. I was in tears from laughter. I am still friends with him and the ex is long gone.

    The rest wouldn’t apply to me. I’ve never been outside the US. I am very interested in other cultures but, I would be extremely wary of some of them. If there is a lot of conflict or crime or customs that make me highly uncomfortable, I’m not going.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I actually can’t even remember the last time I entered someone else’s house.
    In the past 10 years it must have been only a few student flats when visiting friends, but I avoided those as much as possible for obvious reasons.
    On a few rare occasions I had people visiting our place. And funnily enough, I was just yesterday thinking about writing a blog about this experience. I might just do it.

    Despite all the moving around, I haven’t travelled much in my youth.
    The money simply wasn’t there.
    Only when I started making my own money and meeting a great travel companion (Jasper), that I started to go places.
    But I have always been selective about countries, mainly due to climate reasons.
    But to honest, also all these languages are getting annoying. I deal with them already so much in my regular life and I need a break from everything during a vacation.

    Other than you, I have not so much noticed the smile of appreciation when I tried the local language.
    Last weekend I was in Germany and went to the hair dresser. The lady didn’t speak English, so in my basic German (and with hands and feet) I tried to explain what I wanted. She actually got quite impatient and heard her complaining to her colleague about it. She should have realized that I, even though I speak badly, I do understand German quite a bit.

    Tried the same in France. They also didn’t seem impressed.

    And the recent trip to Bosnia wasn’t as successful either in the language department.
    Rather than appreciation, I got comments about “How can you not speak your mother tongue fluently?!”
    Oh I don’t know. Maybe because I was 2.5 years old when we left and after that had to deal with 4 other languages?
    I could have pretended to not speak the language at all and let them struggle with English.

    And even on this blog.
    As you know, I got many comments about my writing and that my English isn’t perfect.
    Tell me something new.

    I watched the video and it made me laugh.
    Brits on vacation are usually loud and drunk, so not entirely easy to deal with.
    I did see a “white” male, which I assume is her partner? I think it would have been easier for the police to go talk to him and not get this “sexual assault” accusation.

    Other than that, they are completely right.
    There are tourist areas where you can walk around in bathing suits, so you have got that opportunity.

    I have no problem with covering up.
    My problem is more with very liberal views.
    I remember the first time going to Amsterdam. We didn’t live in Holland for a long time and my parents were extremely conservative.
    Just that day, the gay pride parade was happening and we didn’t know.
    I still have an issue with such events.
    Rather than blending in and pretend that I understand, I avoid it.

    Great post Goldie! As you can see by my comment, it made me think a lot!
    (NROPs, keep ’em coming)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Truth is that I don’t enjoy going to other people’s houses. There’s no way for me to “hide” when I need a moment to recharge.
      My last host was pretty laid back, not caring who did what. Yet I still remained respectful. But then, I don’t really like hosting other people at my place because I cannot “kick them out” once I get tired. When I’m visiting them, I can leave. I can’t leave my house with people in there.

      I look forward to you writing about it. Should be fun to read.

      I think it might be different when you’re obviously a tourist vs. look like someone who lives there. Tourists rarely go to hairdressers abroad. They must have assumed you were “a local” and shamed you for not learning their language. Of course, they wouldn’t know your language history.

      Your parents didn’t speak to you in their language when you were growing up?

      Yes, that loud/rude/destructive Brit on vacation is a well-known stereotype for a reason.

      I have to admit that I did not notice the white man until you pointed it out. First of all, the video does not start from the beginning. Supposedly, they tried to talk to her and ask her to cover up but she refused. To me, this white guy looks like her companion. The video starts with him running after her with a towel. Even though there is a moment during which he seems to be swaying a little (drunk, too?), I think he knew what was happening. He tried to cover her up and talk some sense into her. He tried to resolve it but she was so riled up that nothing helped.

      I used to live near the route where a gay parade would occur every year. My partner was new to the city and was trying to visit me. Neither one of us remembered the parade. Streets were blocked off. It was a mess to get through. From other people, and press, I am aware of the nakedness at those parades. I have no idea how people would want to do that. Well, if you’re drunk out of your mind and you like to get wild…

      Thank you for your lengthy comment. Now I don’t feel so bad spamming your wall 😉
      I await your post!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This town in Germany is actually a border town. I find those to be very interesting as most people speak both languages. As soon as they see that I am struggling with German, they would switch to Danish. Which doesn’t help their or my case 😀

        Jasper and I like to observe people and try to guess from which country they are. Small characteristics such as shape of the nose, hand gestures, clothing style and teeth can reveal a lot. And then I try to listen to their speech and see if I was right.
        And I guess I am quite good at recognizing those little signs (only with Europeans however since I haven’t seen much out of Europe)
        Danes and Germans should look quite similar, but I can easily distinguish one from the other without hearing them speak.

        Then I look in the mirror and find it hard to identify myself. Now that I am getting my original hair colour back and I could imagine that people wouldn’t guess that I am Western European, but I don’t look like a typical Eastern European either.
        Anyhow, I am rambling now. 😉

        Yes, my parents did speak Bosnian to me, but they were very strict about blending in well with the Dutch culture. They encouraged me to make Dutch friends and even though it was advised by everyone to send me to a mixed race school, my parents insisted on a catholic school with hardly any foreigners.
        Being raised bilingual is not necessarily how people think it is. One language will always be the dominant and for me that was certainly Dutch because I used it more. And over the years, I started speaking a funny mix of Dutch and Bosnian with my parents which they gradually took over.
        With Jasper I speak a mix of Dutch and English.

        Would you say that the US is more conservative or liberal with sexuality?
        I wouldn’t want to live in a country where it’s illegal to give your partner a kiss on the cheek in public, but I can definitely feel that I don’t fit in in countries like Denmark and Holland.

        Yeah, the white guy in the video didn’t seem 100% sober either 😉
        I do think that some countries, like the Maldives, live of tourism.
        I am sure it is a battle whether to become less conservative or hold on to their original morals.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Why is there no new post from you yet?

          I do that, too – guessing where people are from. Funnily enough, I’d have a tough time categorizing myself.

          It’s interesting that you say you speak Dutch and English with Jasper. Are there specific moments in which you prefer English? Or is it a mix of words? I knew a couple that normally spoke Austrian, but English in the bedroom.

          Oh, US is definitely more liberal. Especially in the bigger cities. I agree that some public affection shouldn’t be outlawed, but again, it’s a matter of taste. Why would you feel the need to almost have intercourse with someone in public? It takes me back to my school days when people would suck each other’s faces during breaks between classes because it was so new and forbidden.

          Like

          1. Haha, but no pressure 😉
            I just posted it. It’s not a master piece, but it took me so long, so I decided just to post what I had.

            You mentioned traveling in Europe quite a bit. Something tells me you have relatives here. Maybe even you’re even European.

            I don’t really think about which language I speak to be honest. Both he and I speak English at work. Well, not me anymore, but I listen to audiobooks in English about 8 hours a day 😉 So I guess it’s more likely to speak English to each other. But if forget the word in one language, I say it in the other, so it’s a mix anyhow.

            Mhh. Might that also be state dependent?
            Oh god yeah, I remember some of my classmates who dated others. There was this one guy who had a girlfriend in the class. Each break all the guys would sit together at one table, including him. And the girl would just sit on his lap sucking him off. It was so weird.

            I personally don’t feel comfortable showing too much affection in public places.

            Here is a funny thing. In Bosnia it is not uncommon for men to give each other 2 or 3 kisses (depending on which part you’re from) on the cheek when greeting each other.
            Jasper nearly got a heart attack when my dad did that to him 😀
            And most, so called liberal Dutch people pull a disgusted face.
            I guess it’s all about what you’re used to.

            Liked by 1 person

  11. I was raised like you. I’m always careful when I’m in someone else’s home. I don’t understand why there are people who act like owners when they visit other people’s homes. This reminds me of a recent incident I had with my boyfriend’s family. While I was traveling his siblings got into my apartment and moved some things around. When I arrived I was so shocked to see pillows on the floor so of course I got so mad. I took it out on him as politely as I could. It never happened again. I don’t know how they were raised but common sense should tell us to respect other people’s homes and belongings.
    I never travel without doing research. It’s important for me to learn about a country’s history and culture before I visit it so I could appreciate it more when I get there. It makes dealing with locals easier for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! I would have been mad, too. So insensitive and disrespectful. But I know people like that who were raised without such “cares.”

      What a nice way to put it – researching things ahead of time definitely helps you understand the culture better and appreciate it. Well said.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know such kind of people exist but I never thought I would encounter them. My friends are all well-mannered people. I’ve been very careful in selecting friends so I don’t have to deal with ill-mannered people. It was such a huge shock for me to experience such disrespect.
        I travel not just to see new places but to experience different cultures as well. Thank you!😊

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This is an excellent post. It is so important to know what the customs and laws are in countries you visit. It is not only for your own safety but for respect of the people in the country you are visiting.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love the way you develop a plot of news which seem so simple, but you give it another light! I could read NROP every day when having my morning coffee!

    I always try to be very careful when it comes to local cultures. I wouldn’t dare to take a risk to get arrested abroad for breaking the law. In my understanding when you visit another country you’re obliged to respect their habits or regulations. I don’t feel like at home when being abroad, but it’s fine because this is the reason I travel. I aim at getting to know new cultures, new people, new places. I’m a guest and it’s not me who’s allowed to impose my rules.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 Thanks Mimi 🙂 That’s phenomenal to hear.

      I’ve heard all sorts of arrest stories in Asia. They freak me out because sometimes you can be imprisoned for absolutely nothing. One needs to be super careful. Why risk it?

      Stay golden!

      Like

      1. I also thought about Asia at first. You can be imprisoned for nothing and what’s worse, for many years. It freaks me out as well, that’s why I’ve been always super careful there.

        I’m wondering why people feel like they can behave freely without respecting any local laws. Is it by ignorance, stupidity or bravery?

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I think it’s great idea to check out the culture and customs of the places one travels abroad to. I totally see how learning a few words of the foreign language of the place one visits makes on a difference. I hadn’t thought about how traveling abroad is very similar to being a guest in someone’s home. Thank you for the reminder that one has the responsibility to learn about the places one travels to!

    I have broken a lot of things: hair dryers, hand-held pencil sharpeners, mugs 😂. I don’t feel as bad when it’s family. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where, I’m extra careful or sometimes just avoid borrowing things so that I don’t have to replace them.

    Liked by 2 people

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