Late Night Stereotypes
January 8, 2009
Delhi, India (late night blog)
There is a trick to eating alone. Tonight, I learned fast. One must appear confident and more than comfortable. One must be at home. No one tells you that buying trips, along with heavy (i.e., weighing a lot), can also be lonely.
It wasn’t until Sandeep, Glen, and Claudia called me from Jaipur. It has to be confessed, there is something inexplicably lonely about dining alone, especially dinner. Then everyone knows that you’re going back to an empty hotel room. However, I have one saving grace: my age. I’m twenty-one, but can pass easily for eighteen and get mistaken for it constantly. So tonight, instead of invoking sympathy or pity, I merely collected curious sideways glances. That’s fine by me. Buying trips insist that one have a thick skin—for the eyes in restaurants and also for people staring because you look different.
SUZANNE ATTEMPTING NOT TO STAND OUT
Glen and Claudia explained to me, “You’re young, you’re a girl, and you’re a westerner.” It makes sense. Here, I stand out.
Being a westerner is an isolating factor here. It tends to make new vendors pad their prices and old ones occasionally try to pull a fast one. Glen and Claudia must bargain twice as hard to reach reasonable amounts. Oftentimes, to vendors and the assorted gawkers we seem to attract, where we come from acts as a symbol of our ignorance.
GLEN WASN'T THE ONLY THING THAT WOULDN'T BUDGE
Yesterday, when we were buying statues at the carving studios in Jaipur, Claudia, talking about Glen, told a bunch of young vendors, “He won’t accept these prices. He’s like an Indian.” They laughed. They know the stereotype, not only of the naïve westerner, but also of the stubborn, stingy Indian. Sure enough, Glen didn’t accept the prices. He walked away when they wouldn’t budge. Too bad for them, we wound up buying 33 from someone else.