Whenever I travel, one of my favorite pastimes is to people watch and I’m sure it is safe to say it is the same for you too. Touring and sightseeing popular places give me the ability to do just that. Unnoticed by others, I would observe their antics, behaviors and mannerisms while I rest. Some of the best places I have done this include, but are not limited to are the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in Rome, Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Las Ramblas, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell in Barcelona to name a few popular venues where there is heavy foot traffic.
As I study tourists whom I meet, I have found they are inquisitive by nature, and want to know all about me. What makes me tick? Who am I? Where do I come from? What makes me special? These and many more questions may be on the minds of those you meet as you travel also. Whether I travel with strangers in a group or meet locals for the very first time solo, we want to exchange information about each other. We want to get to know who the other is. From the moment residents lay eyes on you, they too can tell that you don’t belong, you’re a foreigner and that you do not fit into their regular mold. What brings them to these conclusions? Mostly the way you dress, your accent or language is a big give-away, and certainly your wide-eyed stares and interest in unfamiliar things and surroundings. Whatever the identifiers, you can tell from the quizzical looks, smirks, finger points, or other gestures, that they have burning questions on their minds about you. Some may even muster enough courage to ask you questions outright.
Throughout my international travels though, there is one question that I have been asked repeatedly – Where are you from? Sometimes I hesitate to give an answer based on who is asking or the context from which it is asked. Other times, I readily respond either giving a long or short answer. Besides nationality, there are other burning questions like: Are you traveling alone? Where do you live? Can I touch your hair? Case in point, I recall traveling on a long distant bus from Vietnam to Cambodia and on that trip, I endured finger pointing, stares, some ‘who-are-you’ smiles and even one passenger as she was going down the aisle dared to touch my hair. It was long ride and I was the only black person on the bus, so I stood out like a sore thumb. I wasn’t afraid but I felt as though I was a novelty (or maybe a celebrity 🤣) to my fellow passengers, and they had never seen a real life black person up close.
I get it, they want to know more about me, and judging from my differences, they can’t tell whether I come from a particular country of Africa, Jamaica or Wakanda😂. If I say I live in the USA, my non-American accent begs additional questions, so I give more explanations. Many times, when I call my island home by name, they don’t know where in the world it is. However, if I mention Rihanna a knowing smile takes place.
Community Peeps, people watching is a relaxing, non-intrusive activity that one can engage in to past the time on their journey. Is it an activity you like to participate in? What are your thoughts about these benign surveillances? You may have more questions than answers, but always remember while you are watching someone, another, somewhere maybe watching you.
Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support. Share this post on your social media site. Write your comments in the box below. Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated. Thank you for reading.