Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Gawking Indian

You know you’re back in India when you happen to blow your nose somewhere outdoors and a group of about twelve people gathers around you, open mouthed, to watch exactly how you go about it. You wonder where they find the time and energy to occupy themselves with the mundane details of an individual’s private life but don’t worry, they do, somehow. Unfailingly.

A couple of days back my brother, who is visiting from the U.S. suggested he help me shape up a bit and offered to hold my hand while I practised climbing the stairs again, which I haven’t done in quite a while. My brother is a health freak and becomes a nervous wreck if fewer than four separate dishes containing green leafy vegetables are served for dinner. So of course it’s understandable that he would have his only sister’s (only sibling’s in fact) interests at heart and want to do his best to help her recuperate from a godamn broken ankle.

So we take the elevator down to the ground floor and decide to tackle the stairs from the bottom up. Before I’ve gone up two steps I find I’m paralysed. I just can’t seem to move. The guy who operates the elevator is standing right next to my brother gawking at me, following every move of mine including probably the perspiration that breaks out on my forehead at the sight of him gaping open mouthed at my struggle to climb up.

Well, I managed to do two entire steps about three times before my nerves gave way and I dragged my brother back upstairs, saying I’d had enough. My sister-in-law says that next time I give it a bash she'll help out. She’ll tackle the liftman.

I’ll give her a box of Kleenex so she can stand next to me and pretend to blow her nose and hopefully the guy will take his eyes off me and gawk at her instead.

A closer look at terrorism:
Basicindia Reflections


Stardust said...

My friend Pam does this gawking stuff and she is German/English-American. Most Americans hardly look at each other for any reason unless they know the person, and even then they are too distracted with themselves to notice anyone else.

But Pam, she stares at people if someone has a portable respirator or is in a wheel chair, etc. She gawks at people of other cultures who wear their native sari's or hijab. She stares at parents who are scolding their children or arguing with their pre-teen kids in stores or at the mall. I tell her to stop gawking at people, and she says "I'm not gawking!" :-S

One time in a restaurant this guy had one of those voice boxes in his throat to talk (probably he had cancer of the larynyx), and Pam turned all the way around in her seat to look at him. I told her to turn around! Geesh! She then said to me she felt sorry for the man. I told her "then stop making him uncomfortable by staring at him!"

I would say it's because she is getting older, but she has been like this since we first met nearly 30 years ago.

uma said...

Oh well, so it is not only we Indians!