Reading an article by the twilight fairy I could not help but empathize. Now I do not think I look any more a firang than say Mr. Gupta across the street. Unlike Miss twilight fairy I do not have to step out of India to become a foreigner , I get to taste the weirdness right here at home. Right from the guy in Janpath who gives me the price of a kurta in dollars while the rest of my buddies are given the quote in Rs. and an amount 5 times lower. to the guy at my sports club who insists that I am from the far east ( I felt like shoving his tennis racquet in a fissure unmentionable here). and people who insist on asking silly questions in broken English (you stay how time?).
I have been a victim of pretty prolonged stares ,makes me wonder if I have forgotten to put on an essential item of my clothing or did I just have a wardrobe malfunction??
Or maybe I have sprouted horns.
En route to the New Delhi Railway station I made the mistake of asking a haryanvi dude the exact station we had to get off and I did so in shudh Hindi. The instructions that he gave me were again in broken English and as soon as he was finished he had this to say to his friends “ Are Satnam, yo Hindi bhi bol leve hai!! Aa dekh lai!” only if I knew haryanvi better I would have sworn at him and given him a heart attack.
Questions of where are you from are sometimes inevitable. On the flip side this mistaken identity also has many positive points. For one your blood mate Indians treat you much better than they normally would. On a flight to Bombay I had the unsolicited help of a fellow who wanted to lift my bags and carry them to the check in. suspecting him for a luggage thief I decided to use the easier option, the trolley. I was shocked when the same guy was in the same flight as me. I have never received an iota of help from people when thy recognized me as Indian. Another added advantage is the oodles of attention heaped on you by lissome ladies who for the same reason as the men , keep staring at you, however this somehow makes me feel good.
However there is that sense of alienation that kicks in sometimes , you are too alien for the local folk and too desi for the outsiders. (sigh) whatever.