There are many things that people who visit India will immediately associate with this country. The noises which I’ve highlighted in strong personal detail. The smells perpetuating through the air now matter where you are- dust, smoke, incense, mustiness, to name but a few (of the more positive ones). The sights of cars, people and livestock everywhere. Cattle walking down streets, chickens tied by their feet as they’re slung over someone’s shoulders, goats in bags on the handlebars of bikes (a personal favourite of mine).
But one thing that stands out to me in its sheer contrast with so much of the chaos around, are the way that men interact- most notably by touching. Indian men are by far the most hands on people I’ve ever met. Sometimes this can be annoying, when they start grabbing at things on the bike. But mostly their actions are far more passive, as they walk along the street holding hands. Or perhaps walk up to one another and put their arms around the others waist. Any handshake we have seems to go on for just that little bit longer. Every photo we have taken with someone undoubtedly involves embraces and arms over shoulders (their loss, if its before we’ve showered). Once even an over enthusiastic juice vendor, after indicating how tall I was, lifted up my shirt and to see my stomach. Whatever he was wondering about, he seemed impressed.Men here don’t seem to worry about the usual male bravado or posturing that goes on anywhere else. I won’t comment on their attitudes towards women, but certainly towards other men, or at least their peers, there is a certain closeness and gentleness that I find really refreshing. I think Stu finds it rather uncomfortable, but its nice to be in a country where people don’t automatically put up a personal physical barrier when in close proximity to someone else. ——————