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India: Friendly Faces

Something unexpected but wonderful about travelling in India, or certainly the southern regions, was the genuine interest shown in my mother and me as tourists. For the vast majority of the trip, we were the only Westerners we saw, even at very famous historical sites filled with Indian tourists. It was also interesting that the local people, certainly the women, mainly wore Indian-style clothing rather than western outfits; one of our guides pointed out a school trip of North Indian teenagers at a site in Mysore, and after 3 weeks of saris and salwar suits it was quite strange to see so many jeans and t-shirts.

In many places we were approached by families or individuals who either wanted us to take their photograph, or who wanted to take photos of us, almost always with mobile phone cameras, and often including shots with them posing next to us. Once the bizarre experience of being treated like a celebrity wore off, it just felt lovely to interact with people, and enjoy a bit of mutual culture shock.
I think wearing Indian style clothing acted as a bit of social lubricant- I noticed people doing double-takes when they saw a white face inside a scarf and salwar kameez; my nose piercings also got many thumbs up and questions about UK fashion.

As you'd expect, many children were keen to check us out and pose for photos, always immediately wanting to see the result on the camera screen.

Children in Badami. The two boys on the left were busy scrapping and the girls told them to pose.

Two boys who were among a group playing with sticks and tyres at a historic site (Summer Palace) south of Bidar.

Group of boys at Bidar outside an old mosque.

But also older individuals were keen to have pictures taken, and whole families too, sometimes causing blockages in the street as everyone took turns to stand next to us while others snapped away on their phones.

Photo riot starting in the street outside a temple. It took a good while for everyone to get the shots they wanted on their phones.

Posing for me after he had asked for a photo, at Sravanabelagola Jain site.

This man was crossing a busy roundabout through traffic, and came right up to the car window wanting to be photographed. The guy in the background carrying chickens thought it was funny.
A proud father at Badami cave temples with his beautiful baby.

A family group at the Vijayanagara sacred city, otherwise known as Hampi.

The family below were at a Sufi shrine we visited in Bidar: the girl on the right was especially intrigued by us and followed me about while we both giggled. She eventually ran off to find her friend's mobile phone and asked for a photo, so I asked for one back and she got her family to pose with her, while my mum took one of us together.



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