Gay-dar in India
Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
27Trip End Feb 14, 2010
Transport a young Indian man to a gay club in North America and I guarantee he would quickly be plied with drinks and requests to shake it on the dance floor.
It's not just the greased back Freddy Mercury hair, the vaguely luxuriant way they move, or the effeminant quality of their hands. Men of a certain age exhibit a fastidious attention to appearance which on its own would have heads turning in The Castro. And the wardrobe is almost a parody of gay fashion: the pink and purple polyester shirts, the slim flared pants, the sweaters... I've already gone on about the miracle which is the Indian sweater vest. The latest trend incorporates glittering threads into the puffy wool, which sparkle in the sun like a disco ball
The clean-shaven youth of today are not the only confusion for any Westerner on the make. Say you're a middle-aged swinger into the hirsute look of the 1970s. All I can say is 'moustaches.' We were too late to see this morning's moustache competition, but many a Rajasthani truck driver sports a fine pornstache. Sadly the cancellation of the festival's third day means there is no Mr. Desert for 2010.
No catalogue of cultural confusion would be complete without mentioning music. While Cher and Barbara Streisand are absent from the auditory landscape, the uptempo music of Bollywood blasts from every car, from every home. Overall the melodies and lyrics epitomize
camp. Our driver's encyclopaedic knowledge of stars and songs is something unimaginable for straight men in the west; here, it's typical.
Men in India will loosely hold each other's fingers for a few moments then disengage to lightly hold hands as they walk. It's charming, and like everything mentioned here has no sexual meaning whatsoever (at least for other men). But to Western eyes it is So GAY!
Not that there's anything wrong with that.