I must be a crazy person. There is no other way to explain why I feel so uncomfortable, so often, at the amount I’m touched by random strangers on the street. I must be crazy. I must not understand how to construct some boundary that says “Hey. Please don’t touch me.”
I wish I could put this down as an aspect of culture shock, but it’s something that bothers me in Amuhrica as well. I could bore you with a list, but I’d rather not remember all the times strangers have, for no apparent reason, touched me on the shoulder or held me by my upper arm or patted me.
Am I dog? Is it because – perhaps out of some strange kind of fear of insulting the individual – since I don’t flinch, it seems like something that’s ok? I don’t understand.
Today on my walk to the café where I would have most glorious access to the World Wide Interwebs I found myself having to walk around two guys who were exiting a store. One stares at me and starts talking. Bankomat, nam nuzhen bankomat. [An ATM, we need an ATM.]
By this point I had walked past him, and I looked at him over my shoulder. He’s still staring at me, but now it’s in a “What’re you looking at?” way. His friend starts to describe where to get to the nearest ATM. I walk faster.
That was, to put it lightly, awkward. Seriously, though; of course I’m going to look at you if you stare at me while you’re saying something. I understood what you said; I was wondering if you meant to ask me directions. I could have told you, especially in that part of town: “Walk in any direction for a maximum of one block. You’ll find an ATM.”
Not physical touch this time around. But still.
Eto ne trogaite. - Don’t touch this. (If you want to be MC, say Nel’zia eto trogat’. - Can’t touch this.) MY MY MY MY!
5 months ago