Monday, October 13, 2008

Foreign Front and Back

Last week when we were on our trip we did all we could to fit in with the local culture. We wore the long skirts and long sleeves; we put on head scarves, even my figure nails were dyed red with henna, yet despite all our attempts people could still pick us out from a distance. It struck me most when the people behind us started talking about the foreigners. They hadn’t even got a glimpse at our faces, how could they tell we weren’t from around here.

My friend and I started to speculate:

1) Our shoes – no matter how long I live here I will still prefer runners to stiletto pumps. Why any woman would try to painfully squish her foot into a high heeled pointy toed shoe is beyond me, yet here everyone does it.

2) Our walk – Westerners are known for walking fast. When we are going somewhere we move with purpose. My teachers are always telling me to slow down when I walk, that we are not in a race ( I think they are scared I will loosen my new knees) Our fast walk not only involves our feet but our hands, we also tend to walk with our heads held high.

3) Our clothing – well yes, it was decent by local standards, it still wasn’t local. My skirt came from Old Navy and was sadly lacking in sparkles and glitter.


dpb said...

[sorry - two typos]

This reminds me of the male French reporter who tried to sneak into Afghanistan in a burqah shortly after the US invasion. He was spotted at once by the Afghan border guard, who are no doubt very experienced at "seeing" what the person inside a burqah looks like.

I will be interested to learn if you manage to adjust your footwear and body movements to match those of Uyghur women more closely, and if so what it takes on your parts.

~ Amanda ~ said...

oh my, this makes me laugh! before i even read your speculations i guessed the same three reasons. today as i was walking around with my bad ankle, i noticed that i was going at the same pace as most mongolians walk with two good legs. it's a good reminder to slow down. :)