Why do we stare?

Well, that’s one wonderful question that never fails to bring a smile on my face. But it is true that we Indians stare and foreigners get a lot of it.
The last time I checked, we are the 2nd populous country in the world and as if we have any less number of faces to look at, we stare at foreigners. You might wonder why this question amuses me?
It amuses me because I was the same and I used to stare at foreigners. The strange thing is I never knew I was staring or doing something that is really uncomfortable to others. I’m not sure how I missed that basic point. It was only when one of our Aussie consultants asked me the question that I realised what it was. We were chatting and she asked me very casually, “Many people over here stare a lot at me. Do I look that strange? or am I doing something wrong?”
For a second, I have no answer as it suddenly dawned upon me that I do the same. I smiled at her and gave the most sincere answer that I could give. “I’m sorry you felt that way but we don’t mean anything wrong. The reason might be that you all look so exotic to us that we want to know you. Since we cannot come and talk, we stare. And one more reason is that we were never taught that it is wrong to stare at others.”
That was the first time I accompanied a foreign colleague. Since then, I’ve been asked this question by other colleagues a few more times that this thing just registered strong in mind.
This morning when a couple of my colleagues told me that they were coming for some official work and asked me what to expect, this is the first thing that came into my mind. And I was prompted to write this up when I spotted a group of foreigners on the road and every single person around them are staring at them. While the view was funny to me, I knew how uncomfortable it must be for them. Then, it struck to me that maybe not everybody is staring. Some might be in deep thought and are just looking in that direction when these guys passed by. That’s a rare case but happens a lot with people like me who think a bit too much.
I guess it isn’t just with Indians, even I experienced the same thing when I was abroad. When I’m dressed in Indian attires, I was often stared at and I used to wonder if there’s something wrong with me or my dress. πŸ™‚ Now it all seems like one funny joke. After a few explanations from my other colleagues, I learnt to enjoy the attention and when it is too uncomfortable, I learnt to ignore. I guess this is what foreigners in India must do too. πŸ™‚
Okay, I know a lot of rambling, but had to pull all of these out of the system and so here!.. Bye then.


2 thoughts on “Why do we stare?

  1. Although people abroad might stare at you at times, mostly they either ignore you, or give you a friendly smile in passing or at times ask you awkward questions. During my trip to New Zealand, I was surprised by the number of men (80 % +) without moustaches. Now here you don’t notice a thing like that, but there, lots of people I met commented on my mush, which was weird πŸ˜€
    But in India, staring is a national pastime, and yes, as a male I hate it when I get stared at… so I know how a female would feel….

    • πŸ™‚ National Past time! Funny yet true.
      Think of it now, I never ever stared at anyone while I was abroad. Now I just look away even if I see anyone in my line of sight. But I really believe that most people never know or realise that they are causing so much discomfort to others with their staring. Just like we were told not to talk to or go with strangers, I think we must be taught not to stare at and it is really rude to stare.

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