India diary: staring in the streets

Indian people are amazing, and there are a lot of them. As a team we’re doing well at getting around Delhi. We go teaching at our school daily. We hit the markets every so often for provisions and we’ve done some sightseeing on our weekends.

The thing is that we’re fairly far out of the city centre and we tend to be the only fair skinned people on any street at any particular time. So people tend to want a good look at us.

It hasn’t been that bad, especially for me as a guy, but it’s very noticeable and to be honest you can’t blame them. It’s a novelty for them and for us. There have been a few occasions that were questionable to say the least. The girls definitely get it worse. So I generally get to stare at the locals who stare at them. This gives me a rare insight in the phenomenon that is staring.

It’s grand when you’re getting gawked at from a distance. But when the perpetrator is on the metro with you and the metro is jam-packed at rush-hour then it becomes a bit weird when the distance between you is reduced to a few centimetres.

The backward facing seat in rickshaws provides the best view but becomes another awkward situation when an entire Indian family scoot up in front of you on a motorcycle and you’re having a staring contest at 40mph on India’s famously hectic roadways.

No names being mentioned, one of our own felt a bit faint on one of our excursions into the local community. There gathered a crowd that tried to use the power of stare to bring her back to herself. It wasn’t hugely successful.

Staring can be easily disguised using cameras. Also, this way the stare can be stored for later. Staring is contagious and before you know it you’re freaking out the locals with your own staring.

Staring at the road in front of your vehicle comes second to staring at the pale visitors, and the accompanying swerving goes unnoticed on the already crazy roads.

Kids are cute and are more likely to hold out their hand as well as having a look, which really serves to break the tension.

You get to feel like a celebrity with all the faces pointed in your direction but it’s as if you’re a celebrity who has done something really confusing.

With such high-density population you’re pretty much always being watched. If you feel like you’re not being watched then look up. Most buildings have three to four stories, each with balconies. It’s like it’s the Opera and you’re the fat lady singing.

The cows stare too.

Follow Daniel's Indian adventures here: @CouldntGiveADan

The views expressed in Dan's diaries are his own personal observations of life in India and not the views of the organisation he is working with or his partner school.