Friday 3 July 2009

Of Shades and Stares

Is there anything in India that does not get stared at. Well, I can talk only about India as its the only place that has had me so far. After great thought and meandering, I finally ventured to buy shades for me as I found the sun too bright for my eyes. I bought one! The number of people who stared at me while walking down the streets made me think whether I was some weird creature that was out on the loose. TII [as my friend would say: This Is India! A tagline from the movie 'Blood Diamond,' where TIA (This is Africa) is used].

This brings me to the larger question that I intended to sound off in this entry: Why do people stare? Ofcourse the usual norm is that a girls/boys (men/women) stare at each other and that can be attributed to biology and harmones. But why does everything get stared at in India? A few examples: A girl wearing jeans, riding a two wheeler/four wheeler, donning a hat, wearing stilettos, bling,etc. You name it and you can always have at least one person for anything you name. This business of staring can actually cause different things to the receiver (of the stares). A person I know used to remark that being stared at, lifts the self esteem as it implies that someone likes the way you dress/look/walk/etc. But then, are all stares the same? NO. It expresses different things that are not always welcome.

Going into the psychology of staring. The fear of being stared at is called Scopophobia (courtesy Wikipedia - How I love this site!) Another info fished out from Wiki: Jean-Paul Sartre discusses "The look" in BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, in which the appearance of someone else creates a situation in which a person's subjectivity is transformed without their consent. I cannot but agree to Sartre as I can perfectly see how one's "subjectivity is transformed without their consent." The object that is stared at, for a few seconds becomes a commodity that in a way stifles the individual. Probably this aspect unnerved the feminists who coined the term 'male gaze' referring to the male who looks at a woman in a sexual gaze and in a way behaves that it is his birthright to do so (the same implies to women too).

Whatever said and done, when being stared at, the individual for a few seconds loses the normalcy that is taken for granted. For some time it seems like a spotlight shone on you and it is so very bright that one feels the need to blink and turn away. Thats what I precisely do - Turn Away.


  1. well, sometimes it is also nice to gaze back and see those people squirm and turn away! it sometimes becomes like a battle of the stare or something.
    And a stare by an adult is so completely different from that of a child! have you ever wondered about that?
    And thanks for using TII (*grins*)

  2. Hey Sayujya! Lovely to read your comment and well, I should have acknowledged your TII. Hmmm. True. The stare by an adult is quite different from that of an adult but there are some adults who stare like children and vice versa.



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