Colleen Grady, an American blogger and yoga instructor, briefly lost her iPhone X on the streets of Jaipur, Rajasthan, before someone found it and respectfully returned it to her. But nevertheless, she went ahead and wrote a post meant to disparage India and its citizens, prompting a volley of criticism on social media.
Her rant, which was universally acknowledged as racist, went viral in no time, forcing Grady to first delete the post, and later, deactivate her Instagram account.
In the lengthy post, Grady described how she thought she lost the phone in the first place, saying, “I lost it in the poorest, most overcrowded country I have ever visited and one of the most scammy tourist cities in all of India…I dropped it putting into my purse.”
Describing how hopeless she felt after trying to search for it for barely a few hours, she wrote, “The cellphone is worth more money than some people in this country will have in their whole lifetime. The phone was locked and iPhones are really complicated to work if you haven’t had one. So even if someone found it, they probably would not even know what to do with it, how to get service, or how to even work the screen.”
She further expressed her surprise at the fact that the person who found her phone “miraculously” also had an iPhone X.
“Now that is another miracle in itself because hardly anyone in this country has an iPhone period,” she stated in a condescending tone, before adding that the person who returned it did not want anything in return, just “blessings.”
The post, for obvious reasons, garnered a lot of traction online.
“Wow, the cringe are top levels. She is also totally poor. Rich person would be like “s***, I'll buy new one once I return.” Smart person would be like “S***, that’s a lot of unbacked data,” one Twitter user wrote.
Some reminded her how owning an iPhone X in India is really not that big of a deal.
“I’m an Indian typing this tweet from an iPhoneX gifted to me by another Indian who is an iPhone user for long,” another user wrote. “The audacity to call us poor is something I can let go but the way you talk about the person who found and returned is pure filthy.”
“‘Mindbodycolleen’ - her mind is so impure that any amount of yoga won’t help cure anything. She deserves to be in an asylum,” wrote another.
Another tweet read: “I’m pretty sure a significant percentage of people working in Silicon Valley developing magic western tech like the iPhone X come from the “poor, overcrowded, scammy” country, which btw is my home. And oh I’m tweeting from an iPhone.”
One user reminded her about the high sale of iPhones in the country.
“’Hardly anyone in this country has an iPhone.’ Read an article not long back from Apple saying how India alone has more than 10 million users of their mobiles lmao!!” one critic wrote.
When the trolling continued, Grady deleted all the content of her travel blog, mindbodycollen.com, which now only offers her apology, in which she states, “I had no intentions to belittle the Indian culture… I apologize the most for the amount of pure hate that this has pulled out of so many people’s hearts and spread around the world.”
She continued, “Ask yourself – If you found a smartphone device on the street locked, out of service, broken, no buttons, and the software is not in your native language: would it be easy for you to find the owner and return it? For me, the answer is no. I think most of us would agree the answer is no. This has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, class, education, etc.”
Grady said she’s spent hundreds of hours studying Indian Vedic traditions and yoga, has volunteered in schools, and lived in an ashram.
“I’m sorry my words were perceived in a way that was so far from my true feelings about this country and the people in it,” she wrote.
She added that in future, she will be more aware of her “language” and how her words are “perceived.”