Wow never before has a sex of a nation driven me to even consider writing a blog about. But while I am on my generalising rant can I say the Nepali men are striking with their height and cheekbones, Englishmen really are gentlemen with all that holding doors, standing on the roadside business, Burmese men could never have a national Abs of the Week centrefold as it would be keenly competed with men from 14-65. New Yorkers are the most brash, Russians the most sullen, Italians the shiniest, Polish the most smoke-aged, Australians the most found in the world, Israelis the most frugal, Americans the loudest and ignorant in equal measure (and this includes New Yorkers), Irish the most up for a drink and Kiwi’s most relatable (unsurprisingly for me I guess!). But this is about Indian men. And I’m generalising!
Oh the humble man. Indian. Now bearing in mind this is a massive generalisation but I have discovered in my travels the following within India* (Please read this * disclaimer!)
Eyes for Christmas
Never before have I been the object of more staring, than here in India. Unabashed staring. Now I’m the first to say I am not the most beautiful woman in the world. I am a woman. I have curves in all the appointed places but I have a sharp nose (thanks Dad) and I wear thick glasses (I’ve been described by very close male friends as “bookish looking”) and I’m 30 and I am often bedraggled in my travel weariness. Needless to say none of this seems to count for much here in India I get stared at everywhere I go by men - genuinely the women just aren’t that fussed but always smile in response to my sneaky smiles to my Venus Voyeurs. On most occasions I gawk right back to try and shame them and on occasions I have been known to pretend to pass them my spectacles when the going gets too much. This is usually done to the great hilarity of my gal pals which is mostly why I do it.
Why I wonder are they so intrigued by a white woman who is certainly not the only white woman they will see in their day? Clearly I am a Sex Machine – this gets tagged onto the Money Machine label when I am near a person trying to sell something to me. So because I am a white woman I am up for sex 24/7. Bearing in mind that the only white women these men see freely are on Hollywood films or in reality, PORN! In both instances girls give it up in every movie…name one R13 where a girl doesn’t get her kit off, have pre-marital sex or at the very least kiss the male lead (or the female one). So surely that is what every woman with white skin is like. And presented here before him is one of these Sex driven women….it must be his lucky day! I discussed this last night on a bus from Delhi with a man who I had pegged as a gentlemen (because a person speaks your language never make this assumption) he went onto speak of his fear of Indian Men’s obsession with sex and “how deplorable it was”, not before asking me if I was a virgin and what my first experience was like, and how many Indian men I had slept with in my 4 months in India. I swiftly moved seats.
Well Men, if only you could read this machine’s message (Malfunction), I don’t think your “Bang Bang” will solve it!
The Penis Tussle
I am a girl but I know boys need to check their package regularly – I am told it’s to check if it’s still there, but mostly I imagine it is out of habit. I remember the hostel boys at High School always used to walk around with their hands down the front of the Barkers track pants. Then I was told that it was to keep their hands warm. You boys have brilliant responses to my curious questions. But in India I haven’t quite tackled the question of the penis tussle they do here.
Boys from an early age to a ripe old one, pinch the end of their penis at any given time of the day (usually whilst wearing tight tailored trousers) and in any situation. Not much is left to the imagination. I have noticed it a lot when the men stare at me but generally speaking I unintentionally observe it happening all over the country completely unrelated to my presence. This is simply an observation, very different to the behaviours of men in other part of the world with their prize package.
The Style Icons
Dapper - It’s the best word I can describe for the sense of style of 90% of Indian men. They dress like I imagine my Dad did 50 years ago, without the sports coat. Typically this includes tight tailored trousers with a slight flare, pitched a little on the Simon Cowell side across their narrow waists, fitted button down shirt with a white singlet underneath. Brill Cream in their hair, slicking it back, carrying a comb in their pocket along with a wad of cash (no wallet). They twiddle their phone in their hand as they strut down the street holding their friends hand (ok this is definitely something the men in 1960’s NZ would NOT have done!). But if you look at their feet they are wearing rubber scuffs in either black or navy. IF they are rich they might have a Teva style sandal but this is definitely a new craze and is not too popular for temple regulars…all that Velcro gets annoying!
Bollywood Cool – these are the guys in cargo trousers/shorts or jeans. Their thin cotton tee shirts have misappropriated English words written haphazardly in script across their ever pumped up chests. They sport sunglasses and flip flops (the kind you might actually see in England). Their hair is often trimmed short and has a little less Brill Cream than the dapper crew but probably due to the lack of hair length for styling than the desire to actually style their hair. They swagger differently – like they don’t want to own the place but they do so if they must then they will. They move in packs too but don’t often hold hands instead throw arms around each other like a Backstreet boys Reunion video.
Turbans – oh I love the turban wearers – mostly as they are familiar to me having been to the Punjab previously and calling many Sikhs friends back in the real world. The young blokes either rock the thin under cover called the patka or an elaborately and carefully folded turban in a delightful array of colours. My favourite is the classic Royal Blue. I have assumed that orange is reserved for pilgrimages, but please correct me if I am wrong. Most of the Turbans are sharply dressed and could fit in easily walking to the Hounslow High Street tube station on their way to the office.
Beach Boys - often part of the older generation and found in Southern India these chaps are relaxed in their longhi's a sarong style skirt which they tuck and fold around themselves to cool and contain. Its a gentle style and is often paired with either a wife beater singlet or a button down shirt. Either way they are content with their style cos they are undoubtedly the coolest in the hot temperature!
Hocker and Spit
Ah I cannot wait to be back in my Muslim neighbourhood in the East End to only hear this occasionally! I thought it was particularly bad due to the change in weather for Monsoon in the south. Then I discovered the monsoon wasn’t even here yet and the weather is not yet changed! Men here love to clear their throats. It’s a deep hocker, a delightful swill in their mouths and then a loud and skilled (I can’t discount this fact) spit on any given footpath or stray foot if it is in the way. This is a national obsession and is also seen keenly observed over in Nepal and for its part in Myanmar amongst the beetle chewing masses (but that is more liquid and bright red – see my skill in differentiation!). Let’s just say I have been spat on way to many times for my liking and the sound makes me gag.
It’s an Asian thing, not just an Indian one and completely endearing that men are so very close that they hold hands, in fact cuddling, snuggling and generally finding physical comfort amongst their own kind is the ABSOLUTE norm. Much like we women do in other parts of the world (curiously the women in India seem to refrain from any touch in public) they are affectionate with each other. But I would say the use of hands themselves, are definitely more the point of contact. They literally play with each other’s hands, hold them as they walk down the street, intertwine them when they are snuggled on the train, tweak them while they watch cricket and linked pinkies as they walk amongst temples. I have never done this with anyone before so perhaps this is part of my curiosity, and drawn me to look at my hands a lot. Turns out I have a freckle on my left pinky and a very score spot between said pinky and ring finger in the palm (hand specialist suggestions welcome).
Even in a European Modernist designed city in Northern India with public toilets every 50m, Men piss EVERYWHERE. There is no reservation to their pissing. No car that can’t be stopped. No street inappropriate. No time inconvenient. Actually, it’s left me wondering if men in India have a massive urinary problem that needs addressing. Can they not just hold on? Please note I have only seen one lady in my entire time in India squatting (we were at a bus stop, in the middle of a city and the only option was to squat in the mens urinal which was open to the street). In Nepal I was told “ah India, no kiss but its ok to Piss” how delightfully on the money he is.
But I will give them this, Indian men are forward. They are very open to asking you if you want something (mostly to get the service), always ask “which country” and “one photo” with index finger indicating just that one. They are harmless and never have I felt intimidated (more irritated). They value education and think it very strange if you are 30 and unmarried (awkwardly eyeing me up).
* I really want to be Clear about this, Indian men living outside the country are nothing like this. Quite the contrary in fact. Indians living in New Zealand and England, that I have the pleasure to know are gentlemen, show women respect and rarely spit on me, rarely wear their trousers as high as Simon Cowell and can contain their tussling urges for more private quarters.