Now it’s confirmed. I just have to step in at the international airport and out of my country, and I cease to look like an Indian anymore. While in India, people get surprised to learn that neither am I a Kashmiri nor am I a sardarni. I am not a mallu either. I get compared with many ‘personalities’ of ranging ethnicities. Many Indian ones of course, but some others include Justin Shapiro, Kate Winslet (Yes I know that person was probably blind) and Benazir Bhutto (that’s still closer home in terms of ethnicity).
One of my friends told me very long back that she met some Spanish female who looked and talked in exactly the same way that I did. In other words she was my lost twin. Anyway, I did not have to wonder for very long how on earth I looked Spanish. When I was in Roppongee (Japan) on one particular new year’s eve, I got accosted by a desi who was keen on wishing me a ‘happy new year’. Only when I spoke Hindi with some other friends of mine, did he realise that I wasn’t Spanish as he had thought but an Indian. And with that his license for trying to be fresh with me got revoked immediately. For some reason the moment an Indian (or is it all) guy happens to spot a non-desi female, he seems to think that he has suddenly procured a license for ogling or rather that the female wouldn’t mind an extra stare. I have seen that transformation in people around me too well to miss it. Not to forget my own experiences. The moment I reached Frankfurt airport this time, I literally got holes drilled in me because of the stares that I was getting from, guess who? Yes, Indian guys. I had left my colleagues somewhere else and probably there was little that could hint to me being an Indian. No salwaar/kameez and no bindis contribute to that I suppose. My guess is that being all by myself misled them more. I wanted to ask them ‘Bhaiyon kabhee koi ladki nahi dekhi ya phir mere sar par seeng hain?’ (Brothers have you never seen a female before or have I sprouted antlers?)
Fast forward to Finland. An Indian female in a grocery store asked me which label (in Finnish) was for which vegetable and I just told her my best guess. She was surprised that I didn’t know Finnish! When I confirmed her exclaimed-in-surprise doubt, she slowly and hesitatingly asked me whether I was from India (Ah! the sun finally shone). I told her that I am and that I thought it would be quite obvious at least to her since she was from the same place. She told me very matter of factly that I looked Russian. Another incident – I was commuting by a tram here in which an African female was creating quite a ruckus with her kids. Suddenly she directly looked at me and said something, which broke my concentration, which was till then on gods gift to these ppl (their hair). What she spoke was obviously gibberish to me as it wasn’t English. But I understood that she wanted me to help her with the pram when she alighted. After I helped her with it, I realised that my indianness was again lacking. Either she thought I was African like her or she thought I was a Finn like the rest of the junta. Whatever it was, it wasn’t Indian. All I have got to say is, shakal jaisi bhee ho phir bhee dil hai hindustani :).