Posted by: adventuressetravels | February 7, 2012

Celebrity Status

“Can I take a picture with you? “

Oh, the question seems innocent enough.  Besides, when westerners visit foreign countries they always want to take pictures of the locals.  In India the tables turn.  But we do it; it’s only fair to let them take pictures of you, right?

Not necessarily.

First one person asks, then another, then a third.  Suddenly there is a crowd taking pictures with you.  It’s overwhelming, and can be more than a little bit intimidating.

Sometimes it’s innocent, Indians just wanting to take a picture of, or with someone who seems unusual to them.  However, there may be ulterior motives.

Often men will take a picture of a western woman so that they can impress their friends, or a picture with a western woman and say they slept with the girl.

It is strange and many people might not care, but this behavior adds fuel to a greater problem.  Because of Hollywood films many Indian men believe Western women will sleep with anyone, and feel that this gives them the right to stare at, sexually harass, or grope Western women.

I didn’t know any of this when I got to India, but I got to the point that I made men delete my picture if they took it and would only take pictures with women.  Though they might use the picture to impress their friends with a picture of their close Western friend in the photo album that doesn’t bother me.  Perpetuating sexual harassment on the other hand, does.

The large crowds clambering to take your picture, grabbing at your clothing, and pressing to get near you… one woman actually handed me her baby so that it could have its picture taken with me.  Neither the child nor I were comfortable with that, and luckily the child voiced its objections, with a loud wail that didn’t end until it was back in its mothers’ arms, much better than I ever could.

One thing’s for sure.  After visiting India I certainly have a greater understanding for what celebrities go through.

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