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Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Fruition 4: "groped in public"

Now Playing: games
It's said that travel broadens the mind. On the contrary, travel tops up your intolerance.
As a seventeen year old I hitched and backpacked around the middle east. I say this not to show off, but to underline how dense I was at that age.
Secure inside that peculiarly insular pocket of The World of The Lonely Planet Guidebook, barely any contact at all is made beyond the hermetic bubble of the 'likeminded' traveller. Looking back, the arrogance of the Generation X backpacking culture was amazing: you are a tourist, I am a traveller. You distort and destroy your host environment. I support and treasure indigenous culture, as long as
they conform to a panoply of liberal orthodoxies,
I can take grainy 6 by 8 shots of poor people, and
the German girls get their knockers out.
Given the ease with which the children of the {wealthybutpoliticallycrippledbyguilt} left are marshalled and shepherded into 'souks', 'authentic' local fare, and relieved of our dough in carpet buying rituals, we were no less a source of steaming manure-brained fools to scam to the locals than any package coach tour.
Frequently one would encounter the same fellow faces in a Budapest hostel as in Alexandria or Marrakesh. They could be Mexican, British, Canadian, whatever; the common currency was: rich enough to do this, with poverty enough of imagination not to do it well.

Accordingly, the cultural strictures and conventions of your host country tend, after a few months to feel pretty, but inconvenient. Eventually, the guys at the hostel would hang out in bollock revealing shorts, the girls a bikini top, simply on the basis that, jeez, the other kiwis here don't mind.
The effect is to delete any contact with native culture beyond the clammy grasp of the professional shyster. In the middle east the shyster is a profession taken so seriously by its adherents as to be practically institutionalised (gimme baksheesh and I'll tell you different). In Rio, they use a knife to take away all you own. In Cairo, a smile.
So in reality, the only true, unpoliticised, honest contact a Western tourist / traveller (Travest?) has with their host culture is located in the groping.

I can't speak for men, I have no idea what their experience abroad might be. Women? They all know what I'm referring to. jatb told me tales of The Speeding Grope perfected in India. It necessitates the groper be cycling toward the gropee. The standard self-defensive western female self-protective shrug ensues - after all, we've been here before, we know full well what is coming. The opportunity for grope passes, Travest heaves relief, uncrosses arms - and a left arm flashes out from behind at the final opportunity. One quick honk, and he's gone. It struck to me as a more seemly, fair play sort of a grope than the more traditional sixth sense that tells the gropee that the man standing behind in the not so crowded square really isn't forced to be pressed against your nether regions; the same peripheral vision that tells you obliquely that the meat in his hands is not a hot dog. Masters of this art are Turkish winos, who, faced with a scantily clad Travest moving sharply away in a petrified fashion, will follow doggedly, as if this were part of some normal bedroom seduction routine.

Whatever city you visit, any female user of public transport has been groped in public - watch out gropers, though, as the most effective crowded bus response is to quietly judge groper position then aim a hard punch in the solar plexus region. You get some dirty wounded looks (and a side order of panicky guilt that you've hit the wrong man), but to date, the grope has never continued past this stage.
The worst public groper I've encountered is The Worldly Wise Groper. A guy who will loudly commiserate with your troubles, lament the sexist attitudes of his unenlightened countrymen, invite you to explain in graphic detail the horrors to which you've been subjected, including lengthy descriptions of clothing worn, grope technique, regularity of offences ... only to introduce some pressing compulsion to expose himself to you.

Naturally, many of us don't grope in public. And it's not a sex-pest life sentence if you do - it'd be a dull long trawl through the days if you never ever did cop a sly feel sometime. To a certain degree, overly naive tourist / travellers bring it upon themselves, too. By the very nature of being a Travest, they're either too young or too stupid to avoid worse scrapes at home, and have been sent out into the world to be safe*.
(* ~ In many respects, the outside world is far safer for a teenager than staying at home: safe from pregnancy, safe from child brides, from alcohol induced psychoses and injuries, TWOC, perverts, and safe from the stultifying danger of the nine to five McJob - all far more irreparable horrors than a five knuckle shufty on the trans-Siberian railroad.)

I seem to have argued myself into a corner, so I'll curl up with my sarcastic notebook and stay there. Go in peace, fellow Travesties - grope with abandon, be free.

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This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:24 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 13 November 2003 1:28 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 12 November 2003 - 9:13 PM GMT

Name: jatb

You know, I'd completely forgotten the bicyclist gropers.

I think The Sleeping Groper deserves a mention. The casually flung arm reaching out to grab, accompanied by the dramatic snore as alibi. Brave, as he can be easily identified, yet ingenuous for only about 25% of his fellow men think to try it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2003 - 10:19 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Closely related to The Sleeping Distance Groper, who falls asleep on your shoulder on the bus, and proceeds to 'allow' his head and drool to slowly slide all down your chest?

Wednesday, 12 November 2003 - 11:02 PM GMT

Name: dave

Where's my comment gone?

I'll try again:

Not just men, you know!

Wednesday, 12 November 2003 - 11:34 PM GMT

Name: still jolly handsome
Home Page: http://same old shop

Hey! I post a comment below and magically, text and pictures appear above! I can't do that on MY blog. Now I'm bitterly resentful.

This post was also very very literary.

I have, honestly, never groped anyone I'm aware of, unless enjoying the feeling of an attractive woman's body pressed up against mine in a hug is 'groping'. I mean, I'm all hands and fingers when it's appropriate and she's okay with it. But the sly grope you're talking about... I'm much too frightened of public humiliation to do any such thing.

Plus, it seems demeaning. I mean, honesty.

Continue to be a good poppet.

Thursday, 13 November 2003 - 1:17 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

1. I said men may not realise instantly what I'm talking about, but all women would.

2. I know that not just men grope. Christ, I've spent whole debauched evenings grabbing the arse of anyone who walks past. But most gropers are men.

3. The day you're forced to go to uk.transport newsgroups to defend your point is the day ... well ... I dunno, I can't imagine such a rhetorical technique working, though! ;-P

Thursday, 13 November 2003 - 1:18 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Aha - welcome to world of the Permanently Blogging.

Literary how? It was about arse-grabbers.

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