touching is a big thing. and i don't mean just from my new indian perspective. you can go as back as to the creation of adam (if you're into art or religion) or to the big bang, as the finishing touch of the beginning. however, my touching up on the subject of touching will be purely from the newly acquired indian perspective.
while i was on the train (not any train, but the mumbai local!!!!) with tabs' mom, in our very own ladies compartment, i found myself saying a lot of stupid things, as i generally do when i'm with adults i'd like to impress. to my surprise, the remark "i have not seen any couples holding hands since i've been here" rushed out of my mouth into her ear to provoke a smirk and a sympathy look that said "bet your bottom dollar that you wont". and i havent. not once. in my 2 and something weeks in india. what i have seen is lots and lots of men holding hands and i thought to myself "wow, never thought gay people would be so open here". and i thought wrong, because apparently holding hands is something men who are good friends or relatives do.
so, whereas boy and girl in love will probably not hold hands in public, boy and boy in friendship will. and to the ordinary folks, like me, who think if you dig long enough you'll reach china, this is truly a reverse taboo.
but the thing that touched me off was the walking from the rickshaw to the jama masjid mosque (the largest mosque in india), through this extremely crowded street market. so crowded that at times you simply couldnt take a step in any direction. the unbearable crowd gave way to people finding it natural and/or easy to put their hands on you. it resembled that thing you do when you're a kid when you say something and then you have to touch red to make it the ultimate truth, but only here they touch white. touch, grab, or whatever comes in hand. ;)
while at the jama masjid mosque, sitting on the ground with 7-8 more interns, we noticed that quickly a group of people began to form around us, all standing and staring. not any kind of staring, not the timid, glimpse kind of staring, but the intense, non-blinking, intimidating staring. so as i got uncomfortable quite quickly i stood up and started walking back and forth, in this silly attempt to not get eyes fixed on me.
then a little girl all smiles, holding her little brother by his shirt comes up to me and asks me, giggling, "can i touch you?". she's waiting for my answer and she shies away, hiding behind her brother whom she pushes and shoves, he's giggling too, all red in the face. they're really funny but then it strikes me: i've heard "can i touch you before?", in sentences flooded with sarcasm, but her words are honest, clear, no double entendre. i am hit by some kind of hippie haze so i tell her "but why? i'm just like you." she gives me a look, a look that makes her eyes even bigger, pulls her brother by the shirt and runs away.
psycho babble or no psycho babble, we're not the same. we're all as different as it gets and i have falsely pretended to have accepted that long back.
well anyway, india 1 - letzu 0