How terrifying it must have been for the unsuspecting Australian couple…. to be eating lunch one moment, and being heckled the very next because the surrounding locals felt affronted by the tattoo of a goddess 21-year-old Matt Gordon was wearing on his ankles. His girlfriend, 20-year-old Emily Kassianou, was harassed, too.
The mob that confronted Matt should have taken a moment to understand that these were foreigners, unlikely to know right from wrong as far as religious sentiments go. They should have simply spoken to the man, explained to him the anxiety he is causing. They could have been gently asked to cover the tattoo area, or quietly leave.
But to show aggression and threat of physical harm against two helpless foreigners reflect the growing intolerance for other people’s preferences, whether its food, clothes, signs or statements. If you are in India, Indian or not, you better come well prepared. Do your homework well on the dos and don’ts, know what to say, what to wear, including tattoos.
The arrival of police foxed the innocent Aussies. They thought it was a rescue call, but their hopes soon shattered. They were both dragged to the police station, where they were forced to tender a written apology for hurting Hindu sentiments. He was then ordered to leave the city.
How will such a man ever even look towards India, let alone visit? So he was right when he said: “I should not have to apologise for what is on my skin and be put in a traumatising situation where it is apparently acceptable to be harassed, threatened and mobbed. Tolerance, understanding and equality are what we live by. I respect India and Hinduism completely, that’s why I spent 35 hours getting a massive Ganesha put on my back and four hours getting the Goddess (Yellamma) on the only bit of space I had left on my body”.
Only in books are we kind and tolerant people. The reality, as we all know, is disturbing, but let’s leave the foreigners out of it, at least.