This morning, before setting off for Shimla, I had breakfast at a Dahba just a short walk away from my hotel. I was still a little sleepy and didn’t notice, immediately, that I was sitting in the middle of the restaurant, with about 40 Indians, also having their breakfasts. There’s nothing strange about that, only, every single person in the restaurant was staring at me. I smiled, acknowledging the room and turned my eyes down to stare at my plate. Whenever I looked up, I looked straight into someone gaping at me, seeming to be trying to read me or figure me out and after a while I felt brave enough to attempt a joke.
Sipping my chai, I made eye contact with a young Indian guy sitting to my right. Holding his gaze, I narrowed my eyes, touched my forehead lightly with my fingertips and pretended that I could read his mind. He reacted almost violently and I didn’t have any trouble reading his thoughts, anyone could see, he was terrified and suddenly the whole restaurant wanted to know what happened. This sparked more staring and some pointing and I promptly paid my bill, saluted to the room and left.