She blinked. Hastily looked down. Looked up. And then stared back at him, full in the face with one of her ‘ you-lousy-piece-of-scum ’ looks. The moment (and the offender) passed. Her honour sufficiently salvaged, she went back to scrutinizing Lucknowi Chikan suits strung up against greasy glass panes.
‘What was that about?’ I decided to venture, after considerable mental ruminations about the wisdom involved in bringing it up, when I knew it all anyway.
‘What was what?’
‘That. Back there. What was that about? You looked like you wished you could get your hands on a shotgun.’
It's true. Indians hate smiling. It’s like we have this innate fear of breaking into a smile spontaneously. And worse, catching another person’s eye while doing it. Because that of course, would make us either -
(a) promiscuous and slutty, if female
(b) vulgar and indecent, with very bad upbringing in our formative years if male, OR
(c) mentally retarded (in which case we might just be forgiven. But I wouldn't count on it.)
Conversely, if one is brave enough to make a feeble attempt at smiling at the person sitting next to her on the bus, she’s faced with either a distinctly suspicious frown or a look feigning complete ignorance of what just happened.
It’s hillarious actually. Why isn’t anybody smiling?? ;)