As an immigrant, the North American practice I find most disturbing are all the Public Displays of Affection. Not just amongst lovers, but also amongst friends, co-workers and people you don’t even know too well.
When I started high school there would be hugs when you met in the morning, hugs when class was over and hugs at the end of the day; a hell lot of hugging. I also never got the couples on the subway, kissing like they were about to go under the guillotine, without any male evidence of attraction. As my friends mum said, “Nuh man be able to kiss me like that and nuh get excited....he nuh a real man....”
Growing up in Dubai and in the Indian culture in general, PDA’s are plain old unacceptable. The recent uproar in Mumbai, where Richard Gere, caught up in the moment, kissed Indian Actress Shilpa Shetty one too many times on the cheeks, is evidence. To North Americans all the burning of Richard Gere Effigies is just plain silly. To Indians it certainly is not. In the Indians defense, watching the video courtesy Mad Bull’s site, made me wonder if RG was high, he was certainly over the top.
You cannot appreciate how romantic and conservative Indian society is, until you unwittingly pack booty shorts and tank tops for three weeks, accidentally forgetting those pesky sleeves. Despite the heat, Indians always wear sleeves, and quite a bit of clothing. People generally kiss behind closed doors or at a wedding. No where else. Dubai is even worse. Growing up we were not allowed to be seen even talking to boys. Instead relationships and illicit deeds were reserved for terraces. Out of sight, out of mind.
Frankly I am still not used to all the kissing and hugging. Saturday night, at the Monchy y Alexandra concert, a Spaniard, who I didn’t know from Adam, was all kissy, huggy & feely. Here are the rules: If I am dating you, you get to get near me, if you’re my friend/acquaintance, someone I’ve just met (and I have no idea what the future holds,) a simple handshake should suffice. In more tragic moments a hug may be deemed necessary, but it is entirely discretionary.