In Kerala the stare is benign. Soft even, and if you catch someone’s eye, they almost always break into a massive smile.
Staring feels considerably less benign in Bangalore.
It’s not out and out aggressive – but being from somewhere else means I’m something to look at: different hair, different skin colour, how I wear my clothes, even the fact I’m there at all. All reasons to have a good old look.
It gets old fairly quickly.
I like to walk quickly – which in itself is unusual in India (it’s hot, sensible people walk slowly). But I like to march along listening to loud music and thinking little, other than happy thoughts.
I’m not a small person – I’m tall and I’m – lets be kind – curvy. And as I stride forth, bits of my jiggle about, even in modest indian clothes. This draws attention. If that doesn’t, the startling whiteness of my skin certainly done. I don’t like being stared at for that
And there’s a quite distinct shortage of pavements – so walking anywhere is tricky, and usually involves walking in the road or hopping on and off big curbs built to cope with the monsoon rain swells. And as you navigate the badly maintained sewer covers, the sleeping cows and in and out of the traffic… all that can make bits of the walker wobble even more.
Walking is one of the great joys of my life – always make me happier and restores order and calm to my mind. Yet in India… I couldn’t do it very much. Marching past crowds of auto guys who unrepentantly stared at my chest – heads turning as one – was bad enough. Walking round cows and abseiliing off storm drains, while not great for the knees would be ok on it’s own, if there wasn’t risk of falling in a sewer.
And then there’s the fact that in Bangalore, even 10 minutes outside means that when you wash your face… there will be a disgusting black residue from the car fumes and pollution.
So, I cannot wait to spend large chunks of my time walking now that I’m not in India for a long chunk of time.
Like this? Want to read more about my foolish life (and my love of pavements)? Then click some of these:
And as always – drop a comment below. Perhaps you like walking? Go on, let me know.