Walking through the streets of India, I believe the white man is recognized as someone going to the zoo. It’s sad. Everywhere we go, we wish to fit in. I do enjoy experiencing anything new, but sometimes, you get that strange feeling you are not wanted. You laugh too much. Your hat and jeans make you look pretentious and borderline offensive, your hair is dirty blonde, you walk on the wrong side of the dirt, and you ask too many questions. This is when you should know it’s time to leave the party. At the zoo, I believe the animals appreciate your presence and affection for about five minutes, then wish you to leave. Quite understandable.
In India, when anyone of our color shows up, we are initially a novelty item. One of those trinkets you purchase for three dollars and seventy three cents, only to enjoy it for about ten minutes. Then you get tired of it and send it to someone in another part of the planet so they can get tired of it too. Nevertheless, it’s out of your sight and quietly out of your mind.
Colors, pictures, smells, sounds and sights resonate through our television and texting senses. We forget touch. That’s when it becomes scary. If you see an animal on television, you think it’s cute. When you touch one at the zoo, sometimes, they get a bit agitated. And, they should. We are trespassing on their property. We are invading their space. It seems fun for about two hours, but you sense when it’s time to leave or retreat to the hotel.
Visiting a developing country is not always fun and games. I look at people and smile. Sometimes, they smile back, but other times they look at me with distain, wishing for me to leave. That’s why I’m not the one going to the zoo. Rather, I’m the one in the zoo. The stares consume you.
Initially, I thought I was the one going to the zoo in India. I was peering, taking pictures, using a camera in disbelief, ………..and then I noticed I wasn’t at the zoo, I was in the zoo. I was the one maintaining the funny voice making them laugh at me. I was the one wearing funny clothes making them chuckle. I was the one they wanted to take a flight, back to where I belong.
It’s time to go home.