Meeting people

I’m in a family restaurant (these are restaurants, which are decidedly open to women and children) as a little girl is coming towards me. She looks at me and asks me very politely: What is your name and after my  answer immediately a second question about my country of origin. Another answer, and two counter-questions later from my side, she thanks and leaves the restaurant smiling a on her father’s hand (who nods friendly to me) .

As a foreigner, you’re something special also  in tourist places. Again and again I am asked a few simple questions, or asked by a small group or family to pose for a photo. In the biggest tourist attraction of Bijapur, where hundreds of people cavort while, I am the only foreigner and it almost seems to me, I am more photographed than the monument itself.

In the trains, there often interesting conversations

Or on the train – In my previous three trains rides  in India, I had the chance to make the acquaintance of young well-educated people with excellent knowledge of English. Radika the food controller from Bangalore, Raju who moved with his parents from Agra to Chennai and now wants to become a member of the Air Force, Satim  the mechanical engineer whose family lives  in Rajasthan, while works for the Indian Railways far  in the South , and whose  boss is going to Vienna  to be trained on special machines. All these encounters give me interesting insights in this country and I do not want to miss them, even if I sometimes deny the question, if I am on Facebook at the end of the train journey.

But then there’s the other side, which strikes one especially in Mysore . Young men who approach me on the road, begin a seemingly innocuous conversation by posing as friends and helpers. What it runs up is different, some want to act as tour guides, while others are trying to lure me into the internet cafe or silk business of her brother.

The distinction between those who just want to talk with me, or those who wants to initiate a business,  goes quite well in the meantime. And it also makes a big difference if somebody comes in front of me, looks straight in my eyes and starts a conversation, or whether someone is suddenly on my side or even yells at me from several meters away. Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to break this seemingly non-binding talks or even not to start them. Too much the reproach of discourtesy is  in the air and sometimes also pronounced. This one still hits me.


Sometimes I am asked to make photos of people


Today a young man, who is suddenly besides me, starts a conversation with the question: “What do you think about India,?” I reply that it seems to be a strange country, where strange men adress people in the middle of the street and want to start a conversation. He, also not stupid, just said that this was probably meant by the famous advertising slogan “Incredible India”.

What also strikes me is that everything changes on the third day that I spend on a site. I do not know whether it’s because I move differently, or that my face  it is then already known to local actors. Anyway, I’m less and less addressed. And by then I’m also open to those nice conversations, which result then easily  in the bus or in the park. This encourages me to continue to move slowly and spend enough time at each station.


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