India’s Privacy Industry – Ben Around the World Diary – Day 77 – 21 February 2019

India’s Privacy Industry – Ben Around the World Diary – Day 77 – 21 February 2019

– ODO- 9738 – 9886km
– Location- near Kammaready, India
– Weather- 24-35 degrees

India’s Privacy Industry

Last night my OYO hotel had a sticker behind the door next to the latch. It read “Swipe right for privacy mode”. As a foreigner in another’s county I have very little privacy in India. That’s to be expected. Everywhere I stay (that’s above board) submits my location to the Police each night. And everywhere I stop to take a drink, buy some food or take a piss I have a crowd in a few seconds. I’m very conspicuous even without a huge overladen bike.

As I’ve met and become friends with young Indians along the road it’s become clear that the expectation of privacy is different here and the behaviour is also. Early on in the trip, I met a young couple on a break from their engineering school exams. While at home you might call home about a university crush, here it wasn’t clear at any point except when we were in the privacy of our rooms that they were an item. While the big cities are of course modern liberal centres, public displays of affection and discussions of relationships before marriage with older relatives still seems a no go. If one family member is in on the situation it only takes a less au fait relative to find out to cause real emotional upheaval in the family.

Speaking to an entrepreneur I met a couple of weeks ago about this subject he mentioned an interesting concept. Because young people want to date and have “Western” freedoms despite their parents and families, companies like OYO have filled this gap. Homes are usually crowded with India size families and even when moving to study young people often stay in dorms or hostels. This hotel aggregator offers a third space (can I use that phrase in this context) to have a rare box of privacy between friends or lovers. Just a simple google for “do hotels accept couples” in India brings up QA sites life Quora with hundreds of questions and many more answers asking and reassuring that using the service to book hotels as an unmarried couple won’t cause outrage from the owners or get back to their families. There’s even a specially branded couple friendly checkbox in the app.

In the meantime, I just enjoy escaping the selfies for a few hours.


Hi, my name is Ben and I’m a startup founder and adventurer. Highlights of my career include building three startups from zero to exit (, StreamOn and working on Aux) and cycling – halfway – around the world in 2018. Subscribe for updates, blog posts and videos on my startup life and adventure travels.
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