Sunday, April 28, 2013

Excuse me, sir...

A lot of the conversations we have with strangers here in India begin with those words. Most of the strangers who approach us are men, and all of them, men and women both, address Robert.

Today we were walking along the road on campus when out of the corner of my eye I saw Zion push his sister. I stopped to demand answers, which quickly turned into Robert and I telling both kids to knock it off and be nice to each other, for the love of G-d.

As wer were standing there scolding our offspring a guy on a motorcycle passed us, slowed down, started to turn around and then apparently thought better of it and kept going.

"That was weird", Robert said, as we all set off again.

Just then the guy did turn around. He puttered slowly back to us, then cut the engine on his bike, hopped off, and addressed Robert.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Hi", Robert said.

"You have very nice tattoos. Could I take some pictures of them?"

This was a new one. No one's ever asked for pictures before!

"Sure", said Robert, and pushed up his sleeves so the guy could see his...sleeves. The man practically yelped with delight.

"Ah! They go all the way up!"

He took at least half a dozen pictures of Robert's arms from different angles, being careful to get as much of the design as possible. He chatted while he took pictures, asking us where we were from, if we liked Bangalore...the usual kind of casual chatter.

"Thank you, sir", he said when he was done. Then he looked at me somewhat uncertainly. He girded his courage and said, "Could I take some of your tattoos as well?"

"Of course", I said, secretly pleased that my tattoos weren't being left out. He took fewer pictures of mine, and didn't get as close to me as he had to Robert.

He straightened up when he was done and said, "There are people who do tattoos here, but...nothing like this. Nothing like this level of detail and quality."

"The same guy did almost all of both of our tattoos", said Robert. "We're lucky; we just happen to live really close to him, and he's great."

Then our tattoo admirer smiled, jumped on his bike, said goodbye, and gave us a thumbs up as he drove away. I swear, every day here brings new and surprising things! I love it.

Here are a couple of pictures of my mini photo shoot. Note that the guy is wearing a shirt with an American flag, and part of the NYC cityscape  that says, "My heart beats for Brooklyn".

1 comment:

Joanne Young said...

The comment below is actually me, Ma. I didn't see that your Dad was signed in on my computer!
Anyway, it is interesting to me, the cultural differences regarding tattoos. And it is interesting to note the why of the cultural differences.