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On how to be stared at in India.

INDIA | Sunday, 11 October 2009 | Views [3313]

Tiruchirappali (Trichy), Tamil Nadu, India

I was out walking to the internet today when I saw a white person.

(I never go to use the internet anymore. I think it's much nicer to go to it, as if it's a place you can visit, like the library. A library full of porn.)

This white person was a tall guy with glasses. I've seen so few white people here in Trichy that I stared, just like everyone else was staring.

I saw an Asian guy earlier. I stared at him too.

I get stared at a lot myself because I'm white, female, blonde and alone. When I'm in restaurants, in particular, it's a staring free-for-all: Not only am I white, female, blonde and alone, but I'm also invariably eating wrong -- ie, with a spoon. Or drinking out of the chai drip pan. Or whatever.


So imagine how much better the stares were this evening: I was eating my palak kofta and butter naan peacefully in the restaurant next to my hotel, when a man approached the table and loudly asked: "HOW IS THE TASTE? WHAT IS IT?"

I said that it was an excellent palak kofta.

"WHAT IS YOUR COUNTRY?"

"New Zealand."

He said "OHHH," and then started asking me, loudly, something about what the hell is happening in Australia with the persecution of Indians.

At first I thought he was talking about the cricket, then something in the back of my memory was tickled and I nodded and said "oh yeah".

He leaned across the table: Sweat beading on his forehead. "WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS! WE ALL DESERVE RESPECT!"

I reminded him that I was from New Zealand.

"BUT YOUR GOVERNMENT IS HIDING THE PERPETRATORS! I AM UNIVERSITY LECTURER! HIM TOO!" (Gesturing at his silent friend.) "HIS NAME IS MR BABOO. HE IS MATHEMATICIAN. MY NAME IS (something I didn't understand.) I AM ENGLISHMAN. WHAT DO YOU DO THERE?"

I muttered something about web design.

"OH, THAT IS VERY GOOD JOB. WE ARE ALL HUMANS! AT THE END THERE IS DEATH FOR YOU, ME, ALL! HAVE A NICE EVENING!"

The restaurant was silent and staring. I glanced at the man at the table adjacent to mine, giving him my best "who knows?" shrug. He just kept staring at me.

I went back to eating wrongly.

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