I started teaching remedial English in a school in Koramangala. The kids are about 12-15 years old. It isn’t always fun but kids do say the darnest things.
I am white. Yep. White and blonde with long hair down to my waist. Since it’s so hot, and since I am not fond of lice, I wear my hair rolled up in a clip. When I was redoing my hair, the girls asked me to turn around. Then they gave me a nod of approval: my hair is the proper length. Good! However, it’s the wrong color. Why is your hair white? It’s not white, it’s blonde? What is blonde? Blonde is yellow, white is white. Oh. Was your hair ever black? No, this is my natural color. How old are you? (insert number in the 40’s!). So your hair was black but it became white when you got old? No (and thanks!).
I let them touch me. I strongly believe that racism will decrease when we stop fooling ourselves and face reality: humans come in different shades, and to most, it is strange, until you get to see that it’s only skin deep. On the first day, the girls started playing with my nails, even twisting them (gently). Did you paint your nails? Yes. (No, white women don’t naturally have gold speckled colored nails). Many of the girls have nail polish on, often in shades of blue or purple.
Then they touch the veins on my hands. Boys and girls. I often have raised blue veins on my hands (nice when you need an IV, useless otherwise). Most kids in the school are dark skinned, and their veins appear brown, not blue. So they touch and try and push my veins back into the skin. They were also interested in moles and freckles. Most kids rubbed the skin on my hand as if to get rid of the white and get down to the true color. It just got red!
Onto the eyes. Mine are blue. Do you wear contacts? No, this is my natural eye color. Ooohhh. But blue eyes are so rare. Not where I come from honey!
What is your talent? Everybody has a talent. I loved that question. This is what they learn in this school: everybody has a talent.
Kids being kids no matter where in the world, 25 times per class I hear “Can I go to the bathroom?”. This sometimes accompanied by a pinky up in the air, which is the symbol for “gotta go, gotta go”!
On day three, a young boy sitting next to me (we sit on the floor) tells me: “I am sorry your marriage has failed?”. Huh? He points at my toes. I don’t wear toe rings, hence his assumption that my marriage has failed. I assured him that I am happily married and that my failure to wear the appropriate bridal jewelry is because I can’t stand having those little rings squeezing my second toe. Yeek.
Where are you children? How much is a ticket to America? Do you know John Cena? How much is a ticket to the WWF? Do you prefer WWE or WWF (I had to Google those two when I got home). Is your house big? Do you have a shower in your home?
And my favorite, when I told them I was leaving for a couple of weeks to go to France: “Akka, take me with you”.