Something that I’ve noticed in my travels around India is that there are lots of large groups of young men who hang around particularly touristy places. I took this photo at this lake in Ooty, which is the most commercialized part of the town (in my previous post, I likened it to Ocean City, Maryland). The young men in these groups will usually be wearing sunglasses, regardless of whether or not the sun is actually out (in this case, it was very overcast). They also like to pose for photos with their arms crossed or with their thumbs hooked into the pockets of their pants.
Observing these groups of boys made me think a lot about the concept of “coolness” in India and how drastically different it is from how we think of it in the states. In the U.S, I think people are (for the most part) pretty self conscious and our radar for irony is very active. In India, I don’t think that this sort of introspection (and insecurity) is very prevalent, so people may try to be “cool” in a very unapologetic and indiscreet way. In the states, people who look like they are trying too hard are scoffed at, but here there is no shame in wearing sunglasses at night or trying (unsuccessfully, usually) to look intimidating in a photograph. If I saw people posing for a photo in the states like the guys in this photo, I would probably think that they were joking or being sarcastic.
Another thing about these groups is that they are usually pretty rowdy. I think that this has a lot to do with the culture, because boys can get away with a lot more here than girls. That’s the other thing, you don’t see large groups of young women milling around these tourist traps. If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the girls are either housebound and doing chores or studying at university.