Friday, 6 June 2008

I'm not Avoiding Eye Contact, I'm Looking Off Into the Future

I'll admit I'm a bit of a gawker. If I see something interesting, I stare. If I see someone reading something, I'm consumed with curiosity trying to figure out what it is. In crowds, I get my kicks looking around and observing everyone around me. And I guess back in India, not too many people mind.
Which is why one thing I find really difficult in the US is maintaining that particular, unwavering gaze that's aimed off into the middle distance, meant to be non-threatening, yet not making it obvious that one is avoiding eye contact. It's especially difficult in places where you're packed in tight, like elevators, corridors and subway trains.
A related problem is what to do once eye contact is made - some sort of acknowledgment is usually necessary, yet an actual conversation is too much. It's like the gunslingers of the Wild West, making eye contact, sizing each other up, and then firing off a quick "Hey, how's it going?" and turning your gaze away before the other person makes the mistake of thinking that you actually care. So far the most I can manage is a quick nod and some sort of a gurgle in my throat. It's something I'm working on, though, and, hopefully, I'll get it right in a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll even be able to say "Have a good one" without laughing. I'll just have to stay strong and tell myself, "Yes, I can".


  1. Dude. Just smile, or ignore. There's no in-between. Smiling is like magic.

    And smiling is not the same as grinning.

  2. i kind of half smile and nod. i guess you just have to acknowledge the presence of another individual.

    most ppl smile back in this pained sort of manner.

    i dont think i could ever tell anyone to have a good one. funny thing - my classmates don't utter that phrase. mayhaps they recognize i wont understand.

    "how's it going?" has become part of my greeting though. its sort of like asking whats up.