You would think that being tall is a blessing. It isn’t. Especially if you are a 6 feet 4 inches tall man living in India. The pitfalls of being extra tall in the country are varied and multifaceted. Every single day, I face different situations which have made me firmly believe that it is a curse to be an unduly tall person in the country. Here, then, is my list of eight shortcomings that an overly tall man faces in India.
Endless questions on height:
No matter whichever part of the country I go to, this question is unavoidable: “What’s your height?” From old men, to children to women; from doctors, to salespersons, to bus conductors; almost everyone asks me this question on a regular basis.
I have gotten so used to it that I can sense this question coming up even before it is popped. Hence, on endless occasions, when I am conversing with strangers, and sense this question in their eyes, I answer it before they can even ask it. On some days though, these questions can be quite irritating; especially when I am traveling in a metro or a bus, or even walking on a street. I then feel like putting a placard around my neck that says: “My height is 6 feet 4, please stay away from me.”
Being pointed, stared and giggled at:
I have faced all three since my school days and it can really be unnerving; especially when little kids stare at you in wonderment as if you are an alien or when pretty girls giggle at you mockingly as if you are an escaped giraffe from the zoo. Strangers often point at me openly and on numerous occasions I have overheard them placing bets on my height: “He is 6’2.” “No, he is 7 feet for sure.” Sometimes I laugh at this and at other times I just shake my head and walk on.
“Do you play basketball?”:
One question that has plagued me since the last decade is this. Many strangers I meet take it for a given that I play basketball as if all tall people on earth are born to play basketball. When I say no to their question, they are as shocked as someone who has just had his stocks plummet majorly in the share market.
Being the subject of snide jokes:
“How’s the weather up there?”, “Don’t hold that kid. He will feel scared for being taken atop Mount Everest.”, “How do you fit in your bed?, “If your wife is short, she will have to take the help of a ladder to give you a hug.” These are some of the more prominent remarks hurled at me regularly. Some of these jokes are blatantly dumb and annoying, and some are downright snide, but I can’t do anything but smile as they usually come from my relatives and friends.
When girls say they feel dwarfed walking with me:
It happened to me regularly in school and it keeps happening to me now. Girls keep saying this: “Oh, you are so tall. Please don’t walk with me. I feel so dwarfed in your presence.” When men say the same lines, it hardly bothers me, but when pretty girls say this, it feels as if someone is piercing a hot knife through my heart.
Job at home often restricted to picking things up from lofts:
Yes, this happens not just at my own home but also when I visit my relatives. They smile at me sheepishly and then quietly point at their kitchen or some other shelf in the house. “Can you please pick that up from that loft? You are so tall it would be like a piece of cake for you. Otherwise, it is so high that I would have to get a ladder to get it,” they say. I, who would have been quietly relaxing prior to this, would then get up with a grunt, and mutter to myself in irritation, “Of course, this is what I was born to do.”
P.S.: This point also extends to many grocery and medicine shops I visit, where some item is placed very high and a salesperson there just smiles at me shyly and then points at the object. I just sigh and get it.
Finding a shoe of the right size:
This is perhaps the biggest curse of being overly tall in India as it results in gigantic feet. The biggest shoe size available in most shoe stores across the country is usually 10 (mine is around 12). I have endured terrible embarrassments because of this. In most shoe shops I enter, the staff just looks at my feet and gives me a smirk which would denote to them saying something like this, “We keep shoes for humans sir, not ogres.”
Travelling in public transport is a pain:
Try and fit a 6 feet 4 frame inside a small auto or a cramped mini bus and you would know what I mean. I have forgotten the number of bumps I have had in my head because of this and now have gotten used to it slowly.
However, every new bump still hurts, but I just grimace and pray that I get rich enough to buy a Tata Sumo someday.