During our recent visit to my hometown, we did a little bit of touring around. This is Mr M’s proper visit to Coimbatore, where we have stayed for a little longer than 2 days and have seen the essence of the city. He has seen enough of it now to know that he likes it much better than Bangalore. Coimbatore has its own share of foreign visitors but not in the league of Bangalore or Chennai. You don’t see them out and about even in the very posh area of Race Course or RS Puram. It is not every day you see a white man (aka Mr M) amidst them having a go at some of their food options (and rejecting most of them because they all have chillies in them) At least he is not stared at blatantly. You can see that the people are intrigued as to what the white man is doing there in a busy place like Town Hall wandering among the crowd in those narrow lanes which at best of times feels like a never-ending maze but they don’t stare at him and make him uncomfortable. He is definitely an odd man out but only for a few seconds and then everyone gets back to their own livelihood.
The only place he was asked for a Selfie in Coimbatore was at an obscure restaurant where there weren’t any other customers and we were quite early for lunch ourselves. The waiter was very shy to ask him and kept mumbling to him but finally, we figured out what he wanted when he showed us the phone and Mr M was only very happy to oblige. I wonder what was written about Mr M in that waiter’s Instagram photograph? At least Mr M made his day.
When we visited a remote rural school the two girls who took us on a tour of the school were only too happy to show their expertise in English and they were really very very good. I didn’t have to translate at all. (In most places I was the official interpreter for Mr M) During the tour, if I remember correctly it was the 3rd-grade student’s room we were being shown and how they are taught using wooden puzzles and such when the students started filing in after their break outside. The moment they saw Mr M they all got very excited and quite literally mobbed him and bombarded him with questions. I quietly let them enjoy their moment alone and went and stood outside laughing my heart out. He was trying to answer each and every kid’s question as to where he was from, what was his name, what was he doing there. You know how kids like to ask questions when they encounter someone very new to them. He was rescued after a few minutes by the teacher. You should have seen the look on his face when he stepped out. It was hilarious. The two girls apologized profusely to him as they couldn’t prevent that from happening and were equally flummoxed. This time though he asked those girls if he could have a selfie with them and they were only too glad to oblige.
At least those were the only times (as far as I remember) in Coimbatore he was treated like a celebrity. I told him that it would be the end of it as we were travelling to Pondicherry (Puducherry) next and since it is was former French region and with places like Auroville, he won’t be the only foreigner out there, so he can relax and enjoy the place. Well, I forgot that we were making a trip from Pondy, which turned out quite a different experience for him 😉