I wanted to write this post because I think this is something any foreigner in Armenia has experienced, or experiences daily. Staring.
In Armenia, it is the norm to be stared at. We are all familiar with the toe-to-head stare (always beginning with the shoes), and with eyes following us wherever we go. As a non-Armenian, it is basically my constant companion when out on my daily walk, or while riding the Metro. There are some days when I feel like a three-headed monster, or just like I may have something hanging out of my nose.
I know it’s something that bothers most of us from the West. We grew up being told that it is impolite to stare.
Although I do occasionally complain about this cultural phenomenon (ok, sometimes I complain about it a lot), we all need to remember that here it is NOT impolite to stare; it is part of the culture. I also know that we feel like people are only staring at us…the foreigners, but in fact everyone here stares at everyone else. My husband says that Armenians are an old nation, and they stare to see if maybe they recognize each other from a previous life! Even driving in the car, he notices people standing on the street who manage to stare straight into his eyes while he speeds by at 50km/hr. After being here for awhile, when you head back to the land of no eye contact, it almost feels like you don’t exist! I think everyone just needs to be positive about their experience living here, and not sweat the small stuff…like staring. Does it actually hurt us? I even find that I have picked up this habit, and I catch myself staring at people a bit when I head back to the West! So, instead of feeling self-conscious, just smile and take it as a sign of your existence on this lonely planet!