Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life of a gori videshi larki in Jaipur

sigh. that's right. siiigh.

so, whats a gori videshi larki, anyways, you ask? Well gori is fair/white, videshi is foreigner and larki is, well girl.

Ok, so you get the idea. I am a white foreign girl in Jaipur. Indeed.

I have been in India since August, and in Jaipur for 3 months now.

And let me say it. UGH. Yes, that is right, ugh. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mean all of India is ugh by any means, or Indians or Indian culture (etc etc etc). In fact I am still a big fan. Especially of the people I am close to... boyfriend, friends, kids at the NGO, etc.

But day-to-day walking down the street in Jaipur is one of the most irritating things ever. So, Indian women here dress in a variety of ways. We have the traditonal mama's in their saris, with gold jewelry, big bindhi on the forehead and some nice chappals (sandals). We have the salwaar kameez types, swinging their duppattas around their necks, and them we have the young ladies who tend to wear a mix of the salwaar kameez look and the t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers get-up.

I generally wear a mix of the jeans with kurtas, duppattas, salwaar suits, etc. Usually I pull my hair back. Mostly I look kind of nondescript and entirely dull and flavorless. I do it on purpose, mainly (and, a bit out of laziness).

But regardless of what I wear, be it full Indian get-up, or full Umrikan shirt n jeans, I get the same stares. Lest we forget, streets in India are pretty much everywhere filled with more males than females. Anywhere I walk, first you get the rubbernecking. If I (a gori videshi larki) make eye-contact with said rubberneckers, this may.... insinuate some interest. Ha! I am just looking around. So the only way to walk is mainly by staring at the ground, not looking at faces, I have become good friends with the pavement on the way to class, its potholes, sandy parts, and bumps...

In addition to the rubberneckers, we have a few different type of yellers. Type A is the shop owner/cycle/auto driver who sees me and thinks "ah ha! a videshi tourist sucker is born every minute! Lets see how much I can charge them for fill in the _____" Type A yellers tend to yell such non-varying phrases such as "madam! come into my shop!" "you neeeeed a ride? come into my auto, madam!" or the ever-favorite smacking of seat followed by "aao" (come). right. I am walking to school. Like I do everyday. And your winning charge of "madam madam!" will really draw me in. Whats up with "madam" anyways? Man I hate that word (whew. deep breath.)

Type B yellers generally include adolescent, teenage boys, young adult (men) and a few bold women/girls. The more benevolent look at me (or any gori videshi larki) as if they have just seen a movie star, and begin waving their hand and shouting "HELLO! HOW-ARE-YOU?" or other such simple English phrases, excited to finally have someone to shout them at besides their school teacher. Older guys ride by and say "Hello!" etc and smile, hoping for a positive response and attempt to make further inane chatter. All such people, with the exception of small cute children in school buses, get ignored with the whole "look at my feet and at like I can't hear" routine. The rule is, never, ever encourage.

Type C yellers are the worst. Always older teenage boys or any age men, they probably watch too much (illegal) imported western porn. Hence, the only time they see gori videshi larkiya is when, well, they are watching foreign people have sex on t.v. As you can imagine, not the best foot to start off on. Thanks porn industry!

Type C yellers are usually on bikes. They like to yell things like "HEY SEXY!" or "WANT A RIDE?". These guys are usually from well off families and seem to think they "know it all". Like the notion that if a white girl takes a ride from you, that means you get to have sex. Or that, white girls have sex with anyone, coz its what they do for fun. Damn. Sexy. Unfortunately, along the way, all of these guys forgot to use their brains and realize that humans are humans, no matter where we live. In that, I have a family, I go to school, etc. No, I am not a sex machine. Sorry to disappoint.

Beyond Type C yellers we get into touchers, which is a whole other breed. There is the "oops! I bumped into you!" guys, the ride-by-on-bike-and-swipe, and then the guys who don't pretend they are not sexually harassing you and just grope you, straight up. (Luckily this has not happened to me, though it did happen recently to someone I know). I generally avoid crowds, because this is where touchers strike... I got a gross pair of sweaty lips planted on the back of my neck once at a parade in Jaipur. wretch.

Now, I am not saying this only happens in Jaipur. I had a whole "oops I bumped into you.. and oops again!" happen in Chennai which resulted in the 40-something guy getting a decent slap from me...

I am always on the alert, I have these dreams of knocking said "Eve-Teaser" of the future (though I think it is all just sexual harassment, not the benign sounding eve-teasing that Indians use for such incidents) off his bike, or slapping,punching, or kicking him where it counts. But of course, type a and b yellers don't deserve violent measures, usually just a scowl or ignoring them works, but type c yellers and touchers... I say slap, kick and punch at will. Well, don't like... you know, send him to the hospital, but embarrass him if possible.

Anyways, thanks for listening. I really needed to rant about this. whew.