Seven shades of Gori


The 7 types of goris(or white-skinned foreigners) who move to India, and whether you really ought to take the time to stop for a chat

Over the months I’ve spent living in Delhi it’s impossible not to bump into foreigners – or Goris as we are called, meaning white-skinned (all except presumably those of us blessed with darker pigmentation than our local counterparts).After some time, I started to notice something odd: a pattern was emerging. In all the different faces and names certain things kept repeating. That’s when I realised it. There are only(extremely roughly) seven types of goriswho wave goodbye to their home soil to jam their own little house amid the billions in India.

I’ve listed them here so you can spot them on your next trip.

1.      The NGO worker

The NGO worker can be spotted wearing clothes picked up from their local Fab India store. For special occasions, they’ll go all out with a sari. While they’re far less scruffy and hirsute than those from the backpacker tribe, style is low on the priority list when they’ve got the plight of India’s street children/choking environment/downtroddenand abused on their mind.

Should you strike up a conversation? Yes, if you want to learn about how doomed the county is, how much funding they are in need of and how many times they were almost forced to shut up shop due to lack of said money.

Pro tip: Ask for gossip about other NGOs. With thousands-upon-thousands of local and foreign organisations operating in a pretty-much unregulated industry, there are more than a few juicy stories going around.

2.      The dedicated spiritualist

The dedicated spiritualist is incredibly easy to sight. Look for the flowing robes, bare feet, shaved head, and somewhat disconcertingly peaceful, smiling expression.

The true spiritualist has been in India for more than five years and is not to be confused with the ‘wayward traveller’ who took too many party drugs in Goa, had an epiphany in an ashram in Rishikesh and overstayed their visa.

Should you strike up a conversation? Only if you are prepared for a mind achingly intense and longdiscussion about why nothing really matters and how exactly you are doing life wrong. If the phrase “relax and let go” annoys you, back away. BACK AWAY.

3.      The diplomat

With a weekly pay packet that could feed an entire slum, the diplomat can be spotted wearing designer shirts and getting around in their chauffeur driven, A/C equipped car. Typically they can be sighted in Delhi’s posh restaurants, shiny mega malls, or taking the kids for an outing within the soothing green expanse of Lodhi garden. In summer they almost entirely disappear, retreating to their climate-controlled embassies and big swanky houses in Chanakyapuri, aka “The Diplomat Zone”.

Should you strike up a conversation? Only if hearing them whinge about how tough it is to be posted to India and how you simply CANNOT survive without a generator/driver/ridiculously priced imported food from LeMarche.

4.      The uni student

The uni student can be easily recognised by their hoodie emblazoned with the name of whatever institution they happen to be attending. If you happen to pass them on the one day in six months that this item of clothing is being washed, they will typically be wearing whatever trends they would be getting around in back home – which could be anywhere from Australia to Afghanistan.

Should you strike up a conversation? Yes, sure. The uni student can typically string together a great sentence, knows where to go for all the best cheap food and when and where the next illegal warehouse party is going to be held.

5.      The volunteer/ intern

The volunteer/intern wears similar clothes to the ‘NGO worker’. That is, until the sun goes down; this is when their true western colour turns from a subtle muted shade to neon blinding brightness. Stilettos, mini-skirts, (and yes, this is gender-biased but the intern tribe seems to be majority female) and eyebrow-raising western fashions come out in full force.

Staking out theexpat/ladies nights that slash Delhi’s exorbitant alcohol prices, they can regularly be seen throwing back drinks in the clubs. They can also be spotted working at local weddings, where they are in demand as international “spice” sprinkled on the smorgasbord of local staff.

Should you talk to them? They’re good for a casual chat, but don’t bring out your cement to lay the foundations of friendship just yet, they’ll be gone in sixmonths time.

6.      The young entrepreneur

A newbie to the scene, the entrepreneur is a growing breed that has smelled the scent of potential wealth and success from India’s booming economic kitchen and come a-hop-skipping across the seas to gorge themselves. They’re easy to spot by the gleam of intelligence in their eye and their hipster glasses/haircuts/shoes.

Should you strike up a conversation? Sure. The entrepreneur is enthusiastic, often doing something you thought about once while sitting on the toilet and typically has a refreshing outlook on India: treating it like their new home rather than an adventure/nightmare.

7.      The journalist

That’s me. Depending on our pay packet, we can be spotted walking the sartorial fine line between office casual, Indian assimilated and western throwback. I’d like to say we’re also unusually good looking, but I’d be lying.

Should you talk to us?Only if you want to answer a lot of questions.

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