Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our 15 Minutes of Fame in India

Yesterday at Qutub Minar— a 73m tower made of red and buff-colored sandstone. Building on it started in 1199 AD.

Naturally, there are many tourists there, all trying to get a picture with the tower.

As Mom was taking a picture of the rest of us, a middle-aged woman in a green sari with red trim came up to us and gestured that she'd like a photo. We shrugged and nodded, not knowing what we were getting into.

The woman and her family— about four or five other people all got behind us and between us and smiled at another of their group, who was taking the picture. Some people must have caught sight of us, because they also came up to ask for a picture.

Dad moved out of the way before they managed to ask, though, so it was just the three of us children and one Indian mid-20-year-old after another. (Question: How many people do you think we posed with in the end?)

As we were walking away from the tower, another group of Indian men came up to us saying, "One photo?"

Ileana and I smiled and nodded, posing for pictures. I won't repeat the number of times a group of young Indian men came up to us and asked us for a picture— rest assured there were lots of them.

At one point, while waiting for our parents, a young man came up to us nervously and asked, "Where are you from?"
"Romania." I say,
"Ah." Pause, during which he gathers his courage. Then, while bobbling his head, he says, "You are very beautiful!"
"Thank you." I say.
We exchange names— his starts with a B and is pronounceable only on the scene of the exchange. Afterwards I forget it completely.

But this prompts a realization: we are beautiful here! While we know that we are pretty in the US, it's somewhat of a shock to find out that the Indian standard of beauty matches what we look like.

Two encounters are ones that we enjoyed immensely:

  1. A… 50ish year old woman comes up to us and asks for a photo. Ileana and I join together at the shoulder, expecting her to stand in front of us, but she elbows her way backwards to stand between us, her arms around our waists, looking very happy indeed. Later, we went up to her and asked her for a photo, and she grinned, bobbled her head, and pulled her husband into the picture.
  2. A young woman in a pink sari and her husband were looking at us shyly, holding a camera. We'd seen her through the archaelogical site earlier, and I went up to her and asked for a photo. She smiled with relief and came over to stand between us, and we got a fantastic picture.

The total number of people who took pictures with us is 56, give or take 5 people. We were sick of smiling so much.

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