"Gori" and the locals

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I've always known I was going to stand out from the crowd. I decided to try to blend in, wearing  long Pakistani kurta and covering my head, but I couldn't hide the fact that my face is much whiter than everyone else's. I'm gori, a white girl, and I attracted attention. Sometimes it was nice, sometimes funny, sometimes caused trouble, and at some point I was really tired of it, but there was no way to prevent it unless I covered myself completely ;)






Here are the most memorable situations:

  • Lahore Zoo
That was our second day in Lahore, I think. It was the weekend, the weather was great, so we all went to the zoo. While we were walking around, watching the animals and me taking pictures, we were approached by a family. Even though I initially didn't understand what the woman said to my husband, I knew it's about me. It turned out they wanted to take a photo with me - oh the irony, in the zoo?! Hubby got a bit confused at first, but then politely replied that we were there with a family, on a private trip, not as some sort of celebrity. Later I learnt from few other girls that it happened a lot to them, but at that moment it was pretty surreal ;)

  • Lahore Museum
Hubby took me to the museum. As he went to buy tickets, I waited on the side (it's 20 rupees for a Pakistani, and a 100 for a foreigner, so he wanted me out of sight to buy the cheaper one for me ;) On entry we got away with it :D). While I was waiting, looking around the place, two slightly older men were passing by. Well, I might not know Urdu very well, but I did understand when one said to another: "Look, there's gori". They looked at me for a brief moment, and went away. When Hubby came, I told him about it, laughing that if I could actually speak Urdu, I should've replied that I'm not gori, but using "Fair and lovely" (skin-whitening cream; by the way, while we are obsessed about getting tanned, they are obsessed about getting whiter - you should see all those adverts of bleaching face creams!).

  • Lahore Fort
Well, that's the one when my white face caused trouble. As I said, when going outside I'd always wear Pakistani clothes and cover my head, but obviously it wasn't enough. Like in the museum, I stayed on the side and guys went to buy the tickets. We went through the gate, tickets checked, all ready to go... And then we got called back, and told to buy a foreigner ticket. But while the ticket for a Pakistani costs 20 rupees, they ask for 500 from a foreigner, would you believe that? Hubby got into a bit of an argument, saying that as his wife I should be treated as a local, but in the end we had to part with more cash than we'd want to. Lesson for the future - cover your white face. Hubby said I could pass for a Pathan woman this way ;)






Once we finished our tour of the Fort, I was taking a few pictures outside. Couple of men were staring at me, clearly making comments about my appearance. Of course I didn't understand too much, but as they kept staring, I laughed to Hubby that I'm attracting attention again, and they talk about me right next to me, thinking I don't know that. He then talked to them, laughing that if they want to talk about the gori, next time they should be more discreet because this one knew they were talking about her ;) They were quite polite though, apparently they were just amazed that gori is covering up like a Pakistani girl.

  • supermarket
One evening we went to the big shopping centre and a supermarket. Once we were done and heading towards the car, I heard Hubby, who was walking behind me, arguing with someone. I had to ask him what was going on, and apparently the group of young boys was commenting on my appearance and deliberating whether they should take a cheeky picture of me. As you can imagine, Hubby wasn't too happy and made it clear to them what he thought about their behaviour.


  • the village visit
When we went to stay with my in-laws in the village, we had loads of people coming to see us. While in the city white tourists appear from time to time, I guess that for the village people I was like an alien ;) When we went out in the fields, whole families would gather on the road and look at us from the distance. Hubby's friend's daughter brought her school friends over. On one occasion, when we got another home visit, a girl was trying to take a sneaky photo of me with her mobile - I pretended not to notice, but when the flash brightened up the room I barely managed not to laugh. If she'd asked, I would've said yes ;)



Actually I didn't feel people staring at me that much - well, at least in Lahore, village is a different story ;). Even though we stayed in the area that's not the main tourist destination, as long as I tried to blend in, I didn't seem to attract that much attention. Or at least I didn't notice it that much. Actually, what surprised me, people seemed to notice me more in the areas, where I'd expect tourists to be more common, while in the small markets and streets around the house I could go almost unnoticed.

Once we got back to the UK, I was also told by a Hubby's cousin that a few years back when they'd go to Pakistan, random men would try to "accidentally" touch the girls passing by (even though they are also Pakistani) - nothing like that ever happened to me, and I was really surprised to hear that (I've heard this about India quite a few times though).


Anyway, I never felt that the attention I got from people was in any way negative. Most of the time it was down to curiosity (even though I felt like in a freak show sometimes), but I found people really friendly and positive towards me :)



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26 comments

  1. I can't believe they charged more for a "foreigner" ticket. shocking :(

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  2. I'm sorry that you have experienced some negative feedback, it seems so silly that such a small difference can be seen as something people want to pick up on instead of you as a person. It seems to be the way though if you are different in any way people will look to see why, I suppose it's human nature.

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  3. Really interested to hear about your experiences. Shocked though that they charge more for foreigners to visit places - it doesn't seem very welcoming and so much more too. Had to laugh about the idea of being treated like a celebrity for having a white face.

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  4. I'm staggered they're allowed to charge different rates for 'foreigners'. I think I'd find that level of attention disconcerting and quite offensive if I'm honest.

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  5. I have too heard stories of people "accidentally" touching girls and it still happens nowadays. :(

    I found for me when in Pakistan I still stuck out even wearing traditional clothes. I tended to blend in more with a black abaya and black headscarf. It was more comfortable plus I could wear whatever I wanted underneath. ;)

    Aaliyah | The Life of Aaliyah

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  6. This is really interesting. Fascinating that they charge so much more

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  7. A very interested read! You were almost a celebrity :D How annoying though to have to pay more for a visit somewhere if you are a foreigner!

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  8. You must have felt like a celebrity. You look amazing, I can see why you received so much attention x

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  9. It's very interesting to read about your experiences and your perspective. I can't believe that foreigners have to pay so much more than locals to go in to those attractions!

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  10. Oh gosh - I'm not sure what to say! It feels unbelievable really, I hope you never have a negative experience x

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  11. I can't believe they charged you so much more at the museum, I have to admit your stories made me smile.

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  12. wow what an interesting post and you look lovely in that blue

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    1. Oh thank you! This was one of my favourite outfits back there ;)

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  13. Witaj! Miałam podobne przygody podczas mojej wizyty w Lahore, i tak samo jak Ty w zoo czułam się najchętniej ogladanym i komentowanym "obiektem" ;) ja nie zakrywalam włosów a ze mam blond wiec nieźle zamieszanie wprowadzałam... Jak długo tam jeszcze zabawisz? Pozdrawiam!

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    1. Hej! No z blond włosami musiałaś robić furorę, ja wystarczająco niekomfortowo się czułam z moim myszowatym kolorem :D Niestety już dawno wróciliśmy do Anglii, ale nie udało mi się nic napisać w trakcie pobytu, więc spisuję wspominki :) Pozdrawiam!

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  14. oh wow, i can't believe that places charge different prices for a local compared to a foreigner and i am afraid I'm with your husband on that one .. i think you are married into the family that should mean you are local you were there visiting family after all .. but maybe thats just me .. so glad you didn't get too much else issue wise

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  15. I remember visiting Sri Lanka as a child and everyone patted my head as I was blonde. Must feel odd being stared at but at least you didn't feel threatened

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    1. I can't even imagine what blonde girls experience when they go in this region! But yeah, apart from the looks I didn't need to worry about the safety

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  16. Your outfit is stunning! Really lovely.

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  17. reasumując - byłaś GWIAZDĄ :D co do "wybielania" się - myslałam, że tylko w Japonii ludzie zwariowali na tym punkcie a tu proszę - czy dziewczęta/kobiety orientu nie zdają sobie sprawy jaki mają cudowny odcień skóry? (napisała ta, co jest w każdej porze roku słowiańsko bielusieńka ;) )
    pozdrawiam :)

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  18. It was like this when we visited India, lots of people taking photos which I found quite embarrassing!! I love your outfit, gorgeous!!

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  19. I've taken a bit of a sneaky look around your blog this evening and discovered more about Halal than I knew before. Very interesting. As others have said - I can't believe you were charged more as a foreigner!

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  20. Have had similar with my blonde children in dark haired countries, but not quite so often! How I wish we were all satisfied with ourselves tho, sad to hear while we are fake tanning they are trying to be fairer skinned - we are all beautiful just as we are!

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  21. We've experienced similar when we've been abroad in the past - my two have very red hair and are really uncomfortable when complete strangers stroke them x x

    You look gorgeous in that last photo x

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    1. Oh my! I'm glad my child looks more Asian, I would snap if a stranger tried to stroke him!

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  22. Wow, I knew that prices are higher for foreigners but I had no idea that are that much higher!

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