Friday, June 11, 2010

Mind if I Stare?

IndiaWhen we went to India in March I wasn't prepared to be one of the only two tourists in the country. I hear that most tourists go to the only part of India of which they're aware (i.e. the Taj Mahal and Dehli, maybe Mombai in a pinch) but we were in the south on the tip of the subcontinent where we could go days without seeing any other pale faces.

So it's not hard to understand why we were a subject of curiosity. According to my mother and father Indians are naturally curious people and will gather around any odd occurrence like kids around an ice cream truck. Though personally, I wondered if it wasn't so much that they are more curious than other people as that in India it's not considered rude to stare.

I, myself, am curious about anything strange but I've always been told it's impolite to stare so I'd be too embarrassed to join in the crowd. In India, however, it's perfectly fine to stare and let me tell you they take full advantage of the liberty (which I have to kind of envy if I were to be honest--sometimes staring is much more fun than pretending that one sees fully tattooed and mohawked women with piercings dangling from their eyelids every day).

So as if I didn't stand out enough being so pale and pasty (thanks, Alaskan sunshine) being six feet tall and blonde didn't help me blend in any. In the south people are frequently darker and shorter than you might find in the north (speaking in large, general terms) so I stood out like . . . like . . . like a crazy tall blonde woman in sunglasses (no one wears sunglasses there).

Everywhere we went people stared and gaped and rubbernecked and if they were particularly brave (which they usually were) they'd come up and ask if they could take my picture.

Not wanting to be rude I'd happily give them permission but as soon as one person got the go ahead it opened the flood gates for everyone else in the perimeter to jump in and do the same. It would start with one person then another and then another until I felt like Jennifer Aniston with a crowd of paparazzi--only taller and completely less glamorous and well-paid.

The day we went to Golkonda fort we arrived at the top of the fort where I was met by a man and his friends who waved a camera at me and asked if he could take my picture (see the picture at the top). I nodded and stood back against the wall where he began to snap away. His friends pulled out their cameras and joined in and then as more people came up the stairs they too began taking my picture until I was surrounded by twenty or so people--mostly men--taking pictures to most likely email to all their friends around the world with a text message that probably went something like: "Get a load of the bizarre thing I saw today--you'll never guess. . . ."

Usually they'd assume we were British or Australian but as soon as we said we were from America they'd smile and nod their head and say, "Oh, U.S.!"

I guess it's only fair that if I come to their country and spend my time walking around with my mouth open in amazement that they can do the same to me, right?

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Lynn said...

This made me laugh! Mom has people wanting to take her picture because of her white hair. In CV, everyone's hair stays pretty dark as they age, with just a few white streaks--and they keep their hair covered anyway. So Mom is quite the celebrity! It must have felt kind of strange for you. I'd be feeling a bit on the awkward side. :D

Karen Olson said...

We figured we'd get stares when we went to China to adopt our daughter, but we only had people wanting to hold her. By then they had gotten used to Americans coming to adopt their babies and the Chinese people seemed to be so thrilled about us giving those babies opportunity.

When we came home, though, I got a lot of stares here!

daysease said...

Hilarious! and I thought I had it bad. I feel like a circus attraction going through a store with our five kids here in Italy. hahahha... they USED TO have more than two kids, now three is extreme. Weird huh? Thank you for the visual, too. taht picture is quite a memory for you, i am sure... Miss stopping by more often. Think about coming by but never get to it any more. Just went through all your posts aobut crafts and activities. Planning activities to keep the kids busy for the summer. more laid back and more family time, educational, and memory-making is the plan. I must have printed out half, if not more than that, of the ideas. Thank you!! Hope you and your family are well!! Have a great day!

Stephanie said...

That picture cracks me up! Look at all those men lined up to take their photo w/ you!

I think the text messages that they sent said something more like this, "Check me out next to this beautiful American model." ;)

Alexander said...

This made me laugh! Cool!