My general default position when walking around and coming across people is to smile and be friendly. Not in a weird “will you be my friend please, I’m so lonely” way (I don’t think), but just to be approachable and open to people.
When I came out of my Mumbai hotel only to be immediately approached by a man wanting to give me sweets and put a bracelet on me, and me being too polite to decline, I did wonder if this approach would be sustainable throughout my holiday. The default “big smile” approach also didn’t work when walking around later in the day. A young man approached me and said something, which I didn’t quite catch. Not wishing to be rude, I smiled and gave what I hoped was a non-committal nod.
Turns out what he’d said as “You have very nice baps”
Now, aside from being impressed that the word baps has travelled to Mumbai to be used correctly in mammary appreciation terminology, I did not want this kind of attention. Nor did I want to see the porn on his phone. Nor to be followed around for the next quarter of an hour. Through a cunning deployment of road crossing, tutting, hiding behind vans and abruptly changing direction I did manage to lose my admirer before resorting to shouts and remonstrations. But I immediately decided that smiling at every man that approaches me might not be the best way to go about things.
So the next man who came up to me and said “Where are you from?” got a suspicious scowl and a muttered “England”. But then he said “Thank you” and walked away.
And the man who crossed the road just to say hello and then walked in the other direction? He didn’t get a welcome grin either.
Not fair on either of them, and I want to avoid giving the impression that all English women are suspicious and unfriendly.
So I have to find a happy medium. I’ve only been here a day, I’ll work on it.
(from 15th Jan – difficult to find good internet)