Our time in India has been marked by many wonderful experiences, but ever since we arrived, I have been puzzled by a unique Indian phenomenon…. the India selfie! From the very first day we ventured out, we’ve been brazenly approached on an almost daily basis for a photograph with the locals. Sometimes it would be a smiling couple, sometimes a group of young people, sometimes a family and a class of schoolchildren was not unheard of!
It’s not something we would ever dream of doing in our country, but here in India, especially in the big cities, away from the tourist beach resorts, it is common place. There’s usually a stare, perhaps a giggle, and then a smile and an “excuse me mam, excuse me sir…. selfie?” Sometimes just the ladies want one with me, sometimes we are snapped together with the whole group. It might be a quick selfie, but more often various family members congregate for a full-on group photo shoot…. quite an affair.
Its only later when I talk to our trip guide that he tries to explain this strange ritual. As only a very small proportion of Indian people have travelled outside of the country, coming across a ‘westerner’ is a relatively rare occurrence. Many Indian tourists visiting the city, like us are excited to share the stories of their adventures and of meeting a strange white Scottish couple. A photo with their new-found ‘friends’ provides the evidence when they return to their friends and families. In a country of over 1.3 billion privacy is a luxury and this in combination with their inquisitive fun nature makes the ‘Indian Selfie’ the most natural gesture in Indian culture.
And so as we travel through India I try and shake off my stiff upper lipped, politeness, evade my inhibitions and step forward to ask for a ‘Scottish selfie’……..as long as it’s safe of course!