Racism at Fort Kochi’s Hotel Seagull! Here’s what really happened.
While many Malayalis celebrate Gods Own Country’s recent inclusion in CNN’s ‘19 places to visit in 2019’, Bollywood director, Sanjay Gupta, unveiled a different facet of the region. Sanjay, who was in Kochi with his family to attend a wedding, tweeted the following unpleasant occurrence on Republic Day: “Got my first-hand experience of absolute racism. The deck on the waterfront in this pathetic place is for goras only. They have empty tables but won’t give them to Indians claiming they’re reserved...” The eatery he is insinuating is Fort Kochi’s iconic waterfront resto-bar, Hotel Seagull, a popular spot amongst locals and foreign patrons during the festive season.
“During my five-day trip to Kerala, I stayed at various gorgeous properties like Ramada Resort, Yacht Club, and Grand Hyatt. This was my first trip back here in eight years and I love this land. It has so much potential to become the biggest tourist destination in the country. I couldn’t stop sharing my positive thoughts about Kochi, like its clean and efficient airport,” explained the filmmaker behind movies like Musafir and Kaabil, as we reached out to him to learn the details behind the allegation.
He added, “However when our group of eight reached Seagull, I mentioned to the staff that I wanted a table by the pier to watch the sunset and dine. The staff claimed that their pier-side tables were already reserved but were willing to seat us in another area. Since we were denied access, we went next door to Fort Ayurveda—which also offered waterfront dining. It was from this vantage point that it was clear that only goras were sitting in that pier area, whereas Indians were being turned away or redirected to a seating area along the side.” To emphasise this point, he elaborated, “This mindset amongst hospitality industry professionals, outside of five-star properties, is apparent in places like Goa and Puducherry, but this is the first time I personally experienced this issue in Kerala.”After his tweet went viral, many others responded to Sanjay on his timeline citing similar experiences at the same resto-bar. Some even shared screenshots of their old Zomato reviews of the spot quoting this very issue.
The co-owner of Hotel Seagull, which is a family-friendly outlet situated in a heritage property that’s over 200 years old, V P Jayakrishnan has come out in the property’s defence. “With the Biennale in full-swing, this is peak season for us and on the day that Mr Gupta arrived, we had advance bookings by three tourist groups who specifically wanted to dine by that prime sunset-viewing spot. Most foreigners are inclined to call ahead and make dinner reservations, as that’s what they normally do. So, unfortunately, we were unable to provide Mr Gupta’s group with a table which was already reserved. It’s unfortunate that he viewed this as a racist incident. We would never disregard customers based on their nationality,” he told Indulge. Jayakrishnan is ready to even release CCTV footage of the outlet from the last seven days which shows a mixed group of local, national, and international patrons occupying the pier-side dining area.