Monday, May 30, 2011

The firang

I noticed that in talking about our trip to Lucknow and Delhi and the wedding, I didn't talk a lot about how people react to the obvious foreigner.  I must be more self conscious about my reactions to their reactions than I am at being the center of attention.  Now that's saying something.

We stayed at a hotel on a busy road in Lucknow.  Sometimes we stood outside to wait for one of Brij's eminently gracious family to pick us up.  Passersby on foot, bicycle and motorized vehicle alike would slow down to look at us.  I've adjusted to lingering looks and whathaveyou in Pune, but I still noticed that it was more pronounced in Lucknow.

The younger of the hotel's two watchmen would change his post so that he could stare at me at all possible times - from outside to inside, from the lobby door to the restaurant door.  Even as the elevator doors slowly ate away his view, I could see him unabashedly transfixed.  That was weird.  It didn't seem menacing, but I was glad Boaz was there.  At some point Boaz tried staring back, to utterly no effect.

At the Bara Imambara in Lucknow and Qutub Minar in Delhi, other tourists asked to take pictures with us.  At first I reached for their camera to take their picture.

Of course I had no idea how to put on a sari for the wedding, so Supriya offered up her mother's help.  Supriya is obviously a totally contemporary gal by anybody's standards.  Her mother's clearly pretty cosmopolitan too, speaking English, wearing western clothes, tolerating her daughter's cohabitation with a foreigner she isn't married to yet.  She also greeted me by touching my hair and face 'so beautiful, like a doll.'

As we all arrived at the wedding, we entered the same way the wedding procession would later - down a long path in the middle of all the seating.  Everybody turned around to look at us.  The women in particular seemed interested in the crazy blonde woman in the sari.  The women that recognize me from AIC made a point of voicing approval at my clothing choice, though I'd underdone the jewelry.

Our maid worries about me being alone while Boaz is in Israel for the month and sometimes insists that I visit her on Sundays, her only day off.  She puts bangles on me and thinks I should get some Indian dresses.  The girls in my 3rd standard class in particular like to put things on my forehead.  If I wear dangly earrings, their teachers even ask me why I'm not wearing a bindi with such pretty earrings?

No comments: