Douwe Osinga's Blog: 15 minutes of fame. Daily

Monday, February 4, 2008

One of the weirdest thing of visiting tourist attractions of India must be the fact that people come up to you all the time to take your picture. Two guys pass buy and ask 'take picture' and you say 'sure', thinking they want you to take a picture with their camera of them with the attraction in the background. But no, what they want is two pictures with you and either friend. I've noticed the same thing in Pakistan but nowhere else.

Yesterday we went to Warangal, a city not too far from Hyderabad and a once capital of a mighty kingdom (which seems to be the case with most towns we visit here and that I hadn't heard of before) with an interesting fort and temple. Our driver also dropped us off at a fort that wasn't in the guidebook build on top of a weird rock and overlooking a nice lake. We walked around for a bit until we were spotted by a school class. It was like Beatlemania all over. Everybody wanted to shake my hand (and know my name & country)

The headmaster succeeded in calming the masses of 14 year old girls and boys and asked us to have a little speech about our countries, why we came to India and how much money we make. The usual things you want to know of people you just met. Tonja rose to the occasion quite nicely and I said also some words, keeping the number a secret though. After that there was more handshaking and boys coming up to me with banknotes and the request for me to sign them with the odd group of girls thrown in giggling at me that I looked very smart.

So what's this all about? I used to think that getting a picture of a Western person with an attraction on it could prove to the people back home that the attraction was really famous all over the planet, but our reception by this school class did go a little beyond that. I still don't understand it really, but now I am guessing that you don't really get to see that many Western people in India. Sure in Hyderabad you do see them occasionally (though they tend to be drowned out by the millions of Indians), but a lot of these Indian tourists (I am guessing) do come from smaller towns where a majority of Indians live.

Why it would be so attractive to take a picture of me still is a puzzle. In Africa if you visit a village where Western people never come, mothers hide their children, which given history seems only sensible. One Indian guy said that I looked like Brad Pitt. I really don't. Maybe this is 'oh they all look the same anyway' with a positive spin?


marcin said...

just looked to check how is India treating both of you... and there you go ;-) If they would only know that you have wikipedia page you would be able to make extra buck on the side (for the beginning) and end up as a Bolywood star in couple of years ;-)
Good luck

G S S Murthy said...

Why did you choose to visit India?
You did not have enough money to go to better places?