Sunday, January 6, 2013

A few surprises

Two unusual things happened to us today. First of all, as we were walking to lunch, a young couple ahead of us glanced at us, and then slowed their pace so that we caught up with them. As we were passing them by the man said, "Excuse me, sir?" Robert turned around and the man said, "Picture?"

"Sure!" said Robert, reaching for the camera the guy was holding.

"No, no", said the man, and his girlfriend came and stood next to Robert and Zion, then motioned me and Liel over to stand by her. They wanted a picture of her with us. Two pictures, actually, as the guy took one with each of their phones. Then they said thank you, gave us big smiles and we went on our way.

"Daddy", Zion said in a loud stage whisper when we were about 5 feet from the couple, "What was that all about??"

"Well...", said Robert, "I guess maybe they wanted a picture of us because we're a non-Indian family on campus?"

It was without a doubt one of the more unusual experiences I've had so far! And it surprised me, because Bangalore is a big, cosmopolitan city. There are a fair number of foreigners here, even in our old, out of the way neighborhood. OK, there aren't a lot in our area, but there are a few...and the IISc campus hosts scholars from around the world. We see another white person ever day or two.

I've been asked a few times whether I/we get (or would get) stared at much here. The answer is generally no. Again, white folks aren't unusual enough to cause most Bangaloreans to look twice! But there are a few things about us that do cause some stares: Robert's and my tattoos, Robert's beard (he's even had a guy passing by on a motorcycle shout, "Nice beard!" at him), and the kids. While white adults aren't particularly unusual, we've seen white kids (other than our own of course) only once since being here. I'm sure this is a product of our area, and that if we lived closer to the more downtown parts of Bangalore, or close to the ex-pat colonies, we'd see more of them. But out here they're pretty thin on the ground.

So while we'll probably never know why that couple wanted a picture of us, my guess is that it had to do with the kids, and the fact that we're here as a family. I'm only ruling out our unusual looks because my tattoos were covered, and they still wanted me and Liel in the picture!

Anyway, after that we went on to lunch. While Liel and I were waiting for Robert and Zion to bring over the food, I saw one of the bus ladies feed a stray dog a partially eaten partoa from a plate she'd cleared. The dog must not have been very hungry, because she ignored it. Two other men were watching the lady as she tried to feed the dog, and when she noticed this she said something to them and all three of them laughed. Then a fourth man got up from his table, came over and patted the dog, who wagged her tail and wiggled with delight. The man started to leave the cafe, and the dog followed. He stopped, spoke to her, and then returned to the cafe. A minute later he sat down with a newly purchased packet of butter cookies, which he proceeded to feed to the dog. She seemed to like these better than the parota, because she ate the entire packet. Then the man got up and left, and the dog picked up the abandoned partoa and trotted off with it in her mouth.

There are loads of stray dogs on campus (and in Bangalore in general) but I've never seen anyone feed them before. But what was particularly charming was the way the man spoke to the dog. I like to think he told her that she couldn't come with him, but he'd buy her some cookies before he left.

1 comment:

Katey said...

I wonder if it's because you are such a striking family? You guys are really a pretty bunch, and I would want to take a photo of you if I saw you on the street too.