Ramona and I were talking and laughing a bit about the typical questions that she and other western women always tell us about when they have met Indian women. The first question, after the name and the country of origin of course, is if they are married. If this question is answered with yes, the next one is if they have children. Is the first question answered with no, the next one is when the wedding will happen!
This is simply where many Indian women’s focus is on and what they would like to achieve in life. It is just in the same way as people ask men what they work and how much they earn. So this is one of the things that you might get to know when you travel to India. There are many such things and sometimes you can read about it before in books, hear stories from others and can imagine it.
Once a couple from America was here at the Ashram and the first day they were here, they went out to have a walk. They came back confused and nearly a little bit angry. When we asked them what happened, they said that all people were staring at them so much! At first we told them that it was normal for people to look at foreigners and they should not worry about that but the next day, Purnendu was standing at the gate when they went out and watched how they walked away. They were holding hands and people started looking. Then after some steps the man put the arm around the shoulder of the woman and people turned their heads while driving by. Some steps further they stopped, he pulled her towards himself and they had a long and deep kiss. Purnendu told people stopped their work and came out of the houses to see that.
In India, couples do not show affection publicly in this way. They do not kiss or hug on the street. If an Indian couple had done that, they would have got many comments from others as well and then they got additional attention for the fact that they are foreigners. We explained them nicely that they did not seem to be very aware of Indian culture and that it was not normal here to kiss on the street. They also understood. I think it is important to respect the culture of the country that you are in. Sometimes it needs a little bit of a feeling and sensitivity but this is the adventure of travelling.