A Travellerspoint blog

The Empire Stares Back

Dear ex-colonies of the world,
In days gone by, we did bad things to you. We catalogued you with our cameras, made you dance at our dinner parties and made human zoos at our exhibitions. For all those things, we are sorry. We won’t do it again. I suppose you could say that we deserve the same treatment in return, but haven’t we got past the whole eye for an eye thing?
Love, ‘the West’
Avid followers of this scintillating publication may remember that a while ago I talked a bit about staring, and how you just have to develop a thick skin and ignore it. Well it turns out that no skin is impermeable. I recently went to distribute medication in a flood-hit village that had literally never seen a white person before and now almost see the appeal of the burkha. I spent four hours under close scrutiny, and I mean close – people were drawing up chairs, Abramovitch-style, in order get a really good, long look. A man with a stick was employed to herd children away from me. I was paraded around the local school, where I was asked if the reason for my whiteness was horrific burns. After three hours of this, I had been driven into a dark corner with my companions Quasimodo and the Phantom of the Opera, either about to deck someone or burst into tears, until I was rescued by the village president bearing samosas. Now, being stared at by a group of middle aged men isn’t actually much of an improvement on hordes of children, but fresh street food and sugary treats did do something to improve my mood.

I’ve always been unsure about my standpoint on zoos (provided their doing important conservation work, I’m anti-zoos for entertainment), but now my mind is made up. Nobody wants to feel like that. And should I ever pass a celebrity in the street, I shall look pointedly in the other direction and hope I don’t walk into a lamppost.

Posted by PhilippaW 22:20 Archived in India Tagged children culture india volunteering activities udaipur exchange classes wwoofing

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