If have been to India, you have probably experienced the same. Wherever you go, the locals take pictures of you. Asking to take one with you. They stare. Gathering around you in groups, looking at you like you are from the outer space.
At least that is how I felt. However, if you like attention and being in the spot-light, you might feel like a superstar when visiting India. But, if you don’t, like me, it can make you feel pretty uncomfortable.
It often made me feel like an alien. This will say, it was my appearance that was different from theirs, that made people gather around me. I do not have brown eyes, black hair and nut-brown skin, like them. I was different with my white skin, blond hair and blue eyes. And I had no idea what they were thinking when they looked at me. Were they thinking, she looks weird!? Different!? Strange!?
Especially I felt like this, living in the countryside of India. Working with a local NGO, I had visit many villages, where the majority never have seen a foreigner before. I could therefore somehow understand that there always were 20-30 people standing around just looking at me when I was eating, conducting interviews, or following me when I was walking around. I therefore did my best to smile to them, play with the children and interact as much as I could due to language barriers.
The picture is taken after one of the interviews I conducted. What you don’t see on the picture is that there is over 40 people staying outside looking at us.
After a while, I started to get used to it. Until I was travelling to more urban and touristic areas. Areas where it is easy to spot several foreigners. Here you will feel that you have paparazzi’s following you. Because you will be stopped every second minutes and asked if they can take a picture of you. Or more often with you.
I never said no to it, and smiled politely on every picture. However, I was uncomfortable not knowing where all of these pictures will end up. Because it was just men asking. Maybe my face is starring in dozens of profile photos with Indians guys on Facebook by now!? With a comment “My fiancée from Europe”. I don’t know. But I have actually found something similar like that several times from my time in Nigeria.
But being on a Facebook profile picture, is actually not the worst case scenario. After doing some research, I found some shocking results. Actually, some travelers have found their photos on Indian match making and dating websites.
So as you see, I am not alone of experiencing being taking photos of in India. Almost everyone that don’t look Indian do. So if you want your 15 minutes of fame. Pack your suitcase, bring your smile and go to India!