Locker Rooms

14 Dec

Cultural differences are evident everywhere. Even in the locker room.

In the USA its common for people to trot around naked in the locker room. Common showers are “common” so to speak. In India we wrap a towel tightly around us while in a locker room. Preferably we will go back home and then take a shower after a game or a workout. Locker rooms here are equipped with stall showers. Privacy is a must.

Cut back to when I first went to the USA. This happened during my first semester there. So theres three of us (all Indians) in the locker room getting changed so we can play a game of racquet ball. Suddenly we see one of our professors comes into the locker area after taking a shower. Only problem was that he was naked. In his birthday suit. He looks at us and say “Hello Guys. Hows it going?” and starts making casual conversation. Of course we don’t know where to look. He seemed comfortable talking to us as he was dressing. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Of course we got used to it. Shudder to think of seeing some of my professors in India naked.. yeeesh…

The other such “out of body” experience I had was in Seoul…. landed in Seoul one winter morning at 6 am. Normally, I’d take the limo bus to the hotel, freshen up and then proceed to my meetings. On this day however, I was picked up at the airport by our company’s rep there since there was a meeting to go to at 8 am and there was no time to go check in etc etc. Having travelled on a red-eye flight, I badly needed to freshen up. Get a shower at least. My colleague had all that figured out. He took me to one of these bath/rest houses that are essentially like 5 Star bathrooms. Typically Korean executives who are too tired to go home after a long night of partying, sleep off their “drunken spirits” in these places. While they are asleep, their clothes are washed and pressed. The next day morning, they perform their morning rituals, get a nice shave and shower and are off to work none the worse for the wear.

So we ended up at one of these places around half past six. Once I paid the fee for getting in, I was given a kit that contained everything that I could possibly need. Obviously, it was a bit odd. One Indian among so many Koreans. I stepped into the changing room, and EVERYONE was wandering around in their birthday suit. Of course being the “conservative” Indian, I started walking around with a towel wrapped around me. Man you would think I had grown horns. People were staring at me. The look seemed to say “What are you hiding buddy?”. No two guesses as to what I had to do to get them to stop staring…

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13 Responses to “Locker Rooms”

  1. decemberstud December 14, 2006 at 5:58 am #

    Vijay,

    Nice read !!! A very cool post that tons of us here can relate to. Needless to say, I have been experiencing the same stuff forever here. It started off at school (as usual) when we went for swimming. In fact, one of my friends had been to the school pool earlier and he had decided to take shower with his swim shorts on, before jumping into the pool. He then walked out to the pool and was about to get in when the ‘lady’ lifeguard observes that this new guy getting into the pool already has his swim shorts all wet. So, she proceeds to ask him the reason and he is all embarassed. That did it for the rest of us. Some more time, and going butt naked wasn’t too hard to get used. BUT, every desi I know still manages to cover up with a towel when another fellow desi passes by (whetehr that dude is from kashmir or Tripura).

    Watching naked guys talking away to glory, reading newspapers, shaving, brushing, checking their weight, and the list never stops…if that isn’t cultural shock, what is ?

    Did not know about Korean thing. So, you do believe in the “Be a Roman in Rome” thingy, huh ? Good for you.

    Really had a nice laugh after reading the post. Thank you very the light moments.

  2. Vijay December 14, 2006 at 6:11 am #

    DS: Being a “Roman… (or “Korean” in this case) certainly helped to get rid of the stares… 🙂

    Tooo funny about your friend..ROTFL…

  3. Veena Shivanna December 14, 2006 at 6:30 am #

    biddu biddu nakkidaaytu.. Oh Man.. Very weird..
    today we have a kannada rajyotsava celebrations at office & a nice t-shirt is to be worn. Being hailed from a very sampraadayika family, I genrally don’t wear jeans though its a need sometimes. Because of that ‘somebody’s sose’, ‘somebody’s wife’ (beg your pardon somebody) thing..
    I had to come in my regular wear to office & later change over, I do the same just before I attend my yoga classes in the evening.
    Today I went to the changing room to change over & I thought all the girls who were dressing up near the mirror never had any aloof look or stare. Thank GOD I am in India..
    This towel wrapping is a funny thing.. I tease my husband when he comes to the room directly ‘with a towel wrap around’ after taking his bath.. What if the towel just loosens out in front of somebody..? He wears panche at home & same thing he says when I ask him to park our car wearing that attire.. Its so funny, My dad was so comfortable in that suit., I remember he used to accompany us to the temple with that indian attire, white & white…! Neither of my brothers do it…
    Vijay It was a nice post after the commiswara , with a wrap around 🙂

  4. Srik December 14, 2006 at 6:45 am #

    Hahaha 🙂 Nice one.

  5. Vijay December 14, 2006 at 6:49 am #

    Veena: I had half a mind leave your comment as is… in all its original splendour LOL… but then I will change it…

    I can empathize with your poor hubby and his “panche” … I am never confident that the thing will stay on… sometimes I have to wear it for some puja and stuff and I am always afraid that I get up after a heavy lunch and leave my “panche” behind… thankfully has not happened… yet.. But I have a friend who can run a marathon with that thing on and it won’t loosen a bit…

  6. rk December 14, 2006 at 7:19 am #

    yakka-makka maja banthu after reading the post.
    yen jain digambarara influence usa, koreanalli bejaan irohaagide!

  7. Veena Shivanna December 14, 2006 at 9:41 am #

    Thanks Vijay to modify it.. I never knew .. with such a small difference it makes a lot.. LOL!!
    Ha Ha.. Ya, that homa & havana & pooja has mandate to have this attire. Even the Indian weddings, most of them have to be in tha dhaare suit which includes this panche worn in different style(kachche panche)…
    I didn’t know that kachche has a different meaning(slang) when used it in different concept. ‘kachche haraka’ is referred to a person who awes to have multiple partners..! May be its more derivative of the word… Ha Ha 🙂

  8. Vijay December 14, 2006 at 9:59 am #

    Veena: Never heard of “kachche haraka” … need to check with my wife on this… she knows all these “accha kannada sayings”…

  9. some body December 14, 2006 at 11:24 am #

    vijay:

    with reference to a previous comment of mine, here is an example of a post where the urge to comment ‘baayi tudeege bantu’ (i hope you can convert this phrase to an equivalent kannada dialect!). in your last four posts, i have not had much to say (except for that one-liner for law and lawyers), but this one immediately had a me-too ring to it… and i am writing this before i am done reading the entire piece.

    in india, if the professor incident were to take place, the professor will lose any semblance of future control over his (or her, in case of the women’s locker room – this is an equal opportunity comment 🙂 class.

    similarly, when we go to a beach here in the usa, if the upper torso of a male is covered, he _has_ to belong to the sub-continent (we adhere to the rule, needless to say!). what we have learned – and you did not mention this, i believe – is that europeans are far more lenient than the americans, and when they visit europe [or maybe goa?], it is the turn of the american jaws to drop :-).

    d.s.:

    my detailed reply will have to wait for some time. i am going … “sometimes you want to go … where everybody can say your name” 🙂 [theme song shamelessly internalized and modified]

    – s.b.

  10. Vani December 14, 2006 at 11:46 am #

    I just thought how awful it would have been to have people staring at you!

    Ishtu US bagge maathaadtheeralla, namm Kumbh Mela nalli yesht jana “sanyasi”gaLu digambararaagi irthaare….

    Haage Bellur heLida haage Digambara jain sanyaasigaLu full bindaas aagirtaare. U must watch TV during Maha Mastakaabhisheka time…

    My ajji recounts an incident that occured when she was around 7-8 years old and living in Hubli. It seems once she and her friends wandered into some Jain Temple, were stupefied by the sight and ran off from there. 🙂

    Sakkath majaa banthu bidi.

  11. Vijay December 15, 2006 at 5:09 am #

    Vani: LOL about your ajji’s story.. poor thing…

  12. decemberstud December 17, 2006 at 2:56 am #

    @ SB :
    Sure, but you can’t escape. Have a fantastic vacation !!!

  13. prashanth December 18, 2006 at 4:00 am #

    lol… hada nice laugh… when you are in rome… 🙂

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