Thursday, August 04, 2005

A View of the West from the East

This isn't about red and blue states.

Vignette #1: My husband attends a scientific conference where he meets a Saudi scientist. They cordially exchange ideas, my husband offers his help on some problems, and they part with a friendly handshake. As my husband turns away, out of the corner of his eye, he notices the Saudi wipe off his hand uncomfortably on his robe. Nothing personal, you understand, but non-Muslims are.... dirty.

Vignette #2: A Bollywood movie. I love these interminable, silly song-and-dance soap operas from India, but they can be deeply telling with regard to attitudes. In one scene, a son disgustedly finds his father in a nightclub where bikini-clad girls are dancing. The father is leering at the girls. He says, This is great! Look at that! Nude women! His son spits, I don't want to look at that! Observation A: What we call bathing attire, Easterners call nudity, and see it as shameful exposure. Observation B: None of the dancing women are Indian. They are all Western.

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