I had my first proper experience of being mobbed by Indian children the other day! I’m used to the staring you get as a white person living in Chennai – in a city of over 6 million people I would be surprised if there were more than 1,000 Westerners living here. With those kind of percentages, if you have white skin, people will stare – not even in a subtle way, but full on staring as they watch you go by.
The staring doesn’t bother me at all – my ego even gets carried away to think that I might be the first white person they’ve seen 🙂 – but very unlikely in Chennai. The staring isn’t done in a rude or offensive way, and there’s certainly nothing aggressive about it, it’s just curiosity to see this odd person with white skin.
Anywho, the other day I had just popped down the road to the supermarket (think small shop that sells a variety of different products – they are still very much in to the “one shop, one product type” over here, fruit from the fruit store, vegetables from the vegetable store, bread from the bread store etc.) and as I came back with a weeks worth of shopping in each hand, I passed what could politely be described as a slum.
A group of scrawny looking kids wearing no shoes (did I really have to say that?!) were playing in an old car wreck when they saw me and then ran over shouting in Tamil. Naturally I didn’t have a clue what they were saying and then one of them pulled out a Motorola Razr phone (no shoes, but they have the latest cell phones?!) and they all crowded round to get their picture taken with me.
It was pretty surreal as I stood there with shopping bags, posing for photos with the kids, grinning like a fool and desperately working out how I was going to get out of the situation. Umm, but I did get out of it eventually.