Friday, March 02, 2012

I Have an Issue with Staring

I have an issue with staring. A lot of it happens in our public places in India. People blankly stare at you without reason. Just a blank stare of no consequence. Seriously this an issue I want to deal with in this post. 

From our cave-living days we have been conscious of being watched. We know it when a wild animal or another of the species is watching us. We [and our ancestors] knew it on hunting expedition when we became the hunted instead of the hunter. For example take this passage from the novel "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky which I am reading now:

"Two or three days after they had left, Prince Lyov Vikolayevitch Myshkin arrived by a morning train from Moscow. No one met him at the station, but as he got out of the carriage he suddenly had a vision strange glowing eyes fixed upon him in the crowd that met the train."

He was conscious of someone watching him, as we all are conscious of someone watching us on the train. In Bombay, because of the confined spaces, it is worse. I often find guys staring blankly at my face, and when I look back after avoiding gaze, the f**** is still staring! This is happening in First Class the realm of Indian middle-class reticence and good manners. Here people help each other with their bags and even offer a seat if you say you are feeling giddy. Can you believe it? It's the height of bad manners, but that f**** is still staring at me as if he has nothing better to do. F****!

Some days ago I was sitting on the Wadala platform waiting for my train to Panvel. A girl and her acquaintance (a boy) were seated next to me. A few trains passed and what I observed was this: almost every male standing at the door stared at the girl seated on the platform. It was scary because I was seated next to her and I could feel their eyes staring. Staring! Staring! Staring! Some whistled at her, some made funny sounds, some winked, some sang a few lines of a song, some passed a smart comment. It was as if they were raping the girl with their eyes. Oh God! what atrocious behaviour! It wasn't funny at all, but neither the girl nor the boy budged. They didn't react. They knew it was expected behaviour and didn't bother to react. 

Hm.

What shall I say now? I hate people who stare. If you know me and see me on a train or bus, smile, I will smile back, even shake your hand. But, please, please, please, don't stare.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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