Today I have some random thoughts about things I see on a daily basis.
I’ve been here almost 7 years, so I’m very comfortable with the place and culture around me, so much so that I forget the reason people still stare at me is because I’m white. So many times I catch myself wondering why people are staring. The kids also get their fair share of attention. My kids are not as white as I am. They both have a nice light brown tan color skin, most noticeable when seen against my white legs (or any part that isn’t regularly exposed to the sun and therefore tanned).
People in this part of India are very dark skinned so we stand out A LOT. People see us coming from a mile away and will actually call to each other to look at us, mainly the kids, of course. They talk to them and do all they can to get their attention, which isn’t hard to do, but then comes the part that I sometimes have a hard time with … people wanting to touch them.
I don’t know if it is just because of their skin color or if people feel it will bring them luck, but everyone, small children included, wants to touch my kids. I’ve had people block my way so I can’t get by and then stop and pinch their cheeks. What they do is they grab both cheeks and then kiss their fingers that touched the cheeks. Does that make sense to you? It’s a little hard to explain in writing. People are constantly crossing the street to see the kids. They make their intentions very obvious. There are times though when I draw the line and don’t let the person touch them, mainly other children. It’s simply because, knowing how children can never be clean when they play outside, I know they haven’t washed their hands recently. It is for matters of hygine. Some of them will get upset at me when I do this, but hey, I’m the mother and I can say who can and can’t touch my kids. Sometimes I feel like we are a traveling circus.
Lila gets more of this attention now than Logan does. But if I see a group of junior high girls, I know I’d better be as far away as possible if I don’t want to be swarmed with ooohhs and ahhs and loads of touching. They just love Logan.
A lot of people here are obsessed with “fair skin”. There are fairness creams for sale all over the place that claim to lighten your skin so you can look like a white person too. The irony is that we whites come to get dark tans. Can’t we be happy with the color we are?? Here in Tamil Nadu (I’ve not seen this elsewhere but it may be) women smear their faces, hands and feet with tumeric in the hopes of getting fairer skin, but all they achieve is making it yellow. It looks quite funny. In this picture it is being used at a wedding.
I did a little research and tumeric is supposed to be very good for your skin. It is included in cosmetics and is a staple spice for Indian dishes.
The most common animal you can see on the street after the dog is the cow. They are everywhere. Not so many roam the streets here like they do in Bangalore, but they are still all over. Bulls are work animals, and they pull carts piled with stuff, usually materials for construction. The other day there was the largest bull I had ever seen standing outside our building. He had pulled a huge cart full of stuff for the construction site that is in front of our building and was panting from the exertion. Logan was enthralled. This bull was huge, muscular and healthy. He reminded me of a body builder who had just stepped out of the gym. (Don’t ask me why that came to mind.) Most bulls you see are thin and sickly and look like they don’t have the strength to pull the cart.
I understand this particular breed of bull is thin, but some are just skin and bone. The ones here look about average. See the painted horns?
We walk the streets of our neighborhood almost daily, and Logan knows the streets as well as I do. He knows the exact route to take to get to his favorite shop, the one with children’s clothes, baby supplies and toys. He likes to go in there and ride on the rocking horses. Then he wants to see all the toys and play with them. If I don’t have a specific destination in mind, I will say “Logan, which way should we go?” and many times he will direct me there. The other options will be to visit the cows on the corner and the dogs on the next street over. He will also point the way to the park when he wants to go there.
Ok, well that’s all for today. My next “thoughts on India” post will be on the food. Prepare yourself. Once you’ve tasted it, you WILL want more.