Dec 22, 2010

Miserable failure in the staring contest

How many Indians does it take to change a light bulb?

The correct answer is: as many as can be found loitering nearby, bored. They're a friendly crowd and like to give each other a helping hand. About the same goes for producing a pancake in a one-table restaurant - father cooks, the youngest son washes a plate, his brother polishes a cup, their nephew greases a spoon and the oldest son waiters. You'd better believe me when I say that there are always plenty of lanky men around doing nothing - as for women, they are hidden away on hard physical labour while making an effort to stay pretty, wearing make-up, colorful saris and tons of family jewels.

How many Indians does it take to explain the location of a bus to a Western girl?

The equation is about the same, multiplied by the factor of boredom and divided by the size of the town, giving a result somewhere between thirty and fifty. Not less, because obviously nobody wants to be the one to miss the spectable; and not more, because fifty men surrounding the traveller would be a dense enough bunch to block the view on the object of interest. Most of them help by staring, wide-mouthed (literally). Thinking back, it's quite funny, but at the time I went through a whole scale of negative emotions sometimes leading to unusual social experiments, including staring back or pointing and laughing back when (un)appropriate.

Needless to say, I still miserably failed the (inter)national staring contest. I can assure you that even the worst attention-seeking freaks would eventually freak out! From then onwards, I've symphatised with celebrities. So when I kind of accidentally slapped the thousandth randomer who tried to force his camera up my nose in the hopes of getting a photo of that wierd creature, I decided to pack my bag and hide in the mountains. Eventually, I failed miserably even in that, but first I got to have some awesome adventures and a great time in the Himalayas.

Staring aside, I felt quite safe, strolling on narrow back alleys of narrow back alleys of crowded streets of unknown villages or even New Delhi. I felt particularly comfortable after I had figured out that I'm an alien and therefore, that different social rules apply to me. I could neither be considered a man nor a woman - for, in India, I resemble neither of them too much. So, anomaly that I was, I ventured around joyously, unravelling the mysteries of that mysteriously mystic culture until I understood a lot more about them that they did about me.

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