This one's for the dudes

Corey writes:

One of the interesting things about living in a culture other than the one you grew up in is you find out how your identity is defined by your culture of origin. This is like an extra layer on top of nature & nurture. Take for example: masculinity. What does it mean to be a man? (Other than the biological prereqs.)

Being a man in the US means being tough and independent.

I've made a couple male friends here in India, so I've gotten a chance to experience what male friendship is like.

Every time I am away from the office for a while, my friend Satya calls me just to chat, and to say he misses me at the office. Many Sundays (our one day off per week) he'll call me for the same reasons.

Men younger than 40 show affection for their close male friends by holding their hands, or putting their arms around each other. It's a way of showing that you're buddies. Depending on where you are in the US, this same behaviour might draw stares or beatings, or maybe nothing at all.

This man love has happened a couple times to me and I go with it, because I understand the context. A part of me likes it because it means this guy likes me (as a friend). Another part of me is still uneasy (that's the nurture kicking in.)

Here's a picture that shows the level of affection appropriate for one man to another.

Another example of behaviour that would be seen as very un-manly in the US is painting your nails. The driver at SOVA is a big, burly, manly man. But one day he picked us up in the morning and was showing off his pink, shiny nail job. We asked him about it and he said he "just likes it". I've since seen many other men with painted nails.

As far as socializing with dudes, in the US, I would never call up my friends and say "come over to my place and we'll chat". There's always some activity involved, and usually a beer or two.

Things are a little different here in Koraput. There's no golf courses, there's no bowling alleys, or new wing joints. So, hanging out means literally sitting around chatting. Or cruising on motorbikes and chatting. Or sipping chai and chatting. All the Indians I've met have the gift of gab. I've met so many strangers on the train or elsewhere and ended up having really good conversations with them. Especially politics. And I've also learned to fake my way through a conversation about cricket. "Sachin Tendulkar is the best." That's all you need to know.