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Tall, Blonde, Female: What It’s Like for a White Woman Living In Bangalore, India

Anyone who has ever lived abroad or traveled outside your home country knows that sometimes it is simply impossible to avoid standing out.  India is not the first foreign country I have lived in.  I was born in L.A. and raised in Southern California … and over the past 19 years – as an adult – I have lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a summer, in Barcelona, Spain (well, Sitges to be exact) off and on for 18 years and I am now living in Bangalore, India.  Those are all pretty diverse locations, right?  So trust me when I say that I stand out more in Bangalore than I have anywhere else I have lived.  This is actually a really interesting thing to experience on a day-to-day basis. Now don’t misunderstand me, I knew that I was moving to India and what that meant.  And I am certainly not complaining.  But I didn’t expect to feel quite as “alien” as I really do so much of the time.  First off, everyone stares.  EVERYONE.   It doesn’t make me uncomfortable in the sense that I feel unsafe, but it is an odd thing to have really zero possibility to blend in.  Here in India, for the most part, I am a gigantic blonde alien! Haha  Of course, a friendly alien but still…. 🙂 haha

Here I am with my lovely work mates on the rooftop of our building (the cantina!)…as you can see there is just one guy who is taller than me here.

Let’s start with my size.  I literally TOWER over roughly 60% of the people here in India.  That is a huge chunk of the population!!  Close your eyes and imagine that for one second.  Then there is another 20% of people who I am simply taller than but not by as much.  And the other 20% are men (and a few women) who inherited the tall gene and are actually – thankfully – taller than me.  Where I work we have about 160ish employees in our HQ in Bangalore.   If I had to guess, I think there are maybe 15 guys that are taller than me.  There is also one, maybe two, women my height which is fantastic.  This is the opposite experience I had in northern European countries like Holland or Sweden, where I actually felt VERY SHORT there.   It’s a very interesting thing to be this much taller than most men.  And in my opinion, they don’t care in the least.  I love the macho, macho Indian men for that.  Of course, I could be wrong but I don’t think so.

Now on to my hair.  In Bangalore, the women all have amazingly lustrous, long, gorgeous thick heads of dark hair.  I am so jealous and wish my hair was even half as thick and stunning as these women but I was born with very fine, very thin blonde hair that stayed very blonde until my late 20s or early 30s when I stopped spending so much time in the sun, so now I add highlights to it at the salon.  It was easy to stay almost white blonde as a girl in L.A. because I was constantly playing outside, or hanging out at the beach or at the river with my Dad who had a boat and loved camping.  Then as a teen in SoCal we spent so much time at our friends’ pools (one year my hair even turned green from the chlorine, haha!  Now that did suck!!).  Then I owned a couple of Jeep Wranglers in Cali, moved to beach towns in Mexico and Spain… anyway, you get the picture.  I am blonde 🙂  I think that if I had dark hair I would blend in a lot better here, regardless of my facial features and skin.

UPDATE:: At the time I wrote this post DJ Yon WAS the rockin’ resident DJ at Skyye Bar in UB City. He now resides at Blue Bar @ Taj West End.   ORIGINAL COMMENT:: What an amazing experience to be outside at a swank bar on the 16th floor rooftop, listening to DJ Yon fill the open air with amazing music.

And last but not least my skin sets me apart.  I vividly remember how I was trying to tan myself before my first day of work because I was SO white.  And I sometimes joke that I am almost Smurf-like …so white that I am blue because you can see all of my veins.  But it is really interesting for me because I really LIKE to be tan and I am finding it impossible to actually get tan here in Bangalore.  First, there are no UV tanning salons here, or at least I haven’t found one.  In the U.S. and Europe there are tanning salons in every town.  You strip down naked, go into a booth that has UV bulbs, select some music so you’re not bored, turn on the built-in fan to combat the heat, hit the START button and in just 5-10 minutes you have “safely” tanned just a bit.  I would even be happy to find tanning creams but still no joy.  And of course there is the “old school” laying out but for the first time in my life I don’t live by the ocean or sea.  And I can’t layout by the pool here at the flat yet because I only have bikinis and was told that I should not lay out in a bikini here (NOT because it is prohibited but because I might feel uncomfortable with people staring, which is a fair observation).  So what do I do?  Haha.  This is really a funny dilemma, and obviously not a really important one but I would still like to get tan for summer.

To be fair, there are indeed BENEFITS to being a tall, blonde foreigner here in Bangalore and I don’t want to finish the post without honestly recognizing the benefits to ME.  First, although I find this VERY unfair and incorrect, when I walk into a shop someone comes up to attend to me immediately, even walking away from other people already inside.  I do try to say I will wait my turn but the shop keepers rarely listen.  Second, last night I realized when I went out socially for the first time to the amazing Skyye Bar in UB City, (an amazing bar and killer venue on top of a tall commercial building and almost completely open air, with amazing décor and a VERY rockin’ DJ – DJ Yon).  This was my first experience “out” and I actually had a significant number of men trying to make my acquaintance and pay me compliments.  This should make being single much more fun in India.  In Spain that never happened so this is nice twist of fate.  I’m looking forward to finding more and more benefits of my alien status as time goes on.

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. vivek

    im sure u are having a great time.. cant wait to learn the secret carson chocolate cookie recipe… wud like to see when the cookie crumble… tall, blonde and gorgeous anna, it was pleasure meeting u..

    1. angela_carson

      Viv!! Thanks again for the vodka apple-tinis 🙂 See you this weekend for the cookie crumble and some lunch xo

  2. Arshad

    So this is you in the Saree…
    I dont think you are much taller, i feel your colleagues are short. he he hehe. you should be around 5.8″ to 5.9″

    1. angela_carson

      There is a better photo of the saree on the wedding blog post but thanks so much! (why do I see it spelled Sari and Saree? Which is correct?) And yes, I am 5’8″ but are almost always in 2-3″ heels 🙂

      1. Arshad

        As it is a noun both are correct…. lol.

  3. Sourcer

    Hey Angela, Please ignore the typo!

    You actually look very gorgeous in Saree!

    1. angela_carson

      Thanks 🙂 Very kind indeed!

      1. Sourcer

        Hi Angela,

        Similar to you I am also in a sales & marketing profession. My job took me to middle east and UK.

        I lived at Maidenhead and covered most part of Southern UK.

        I need some mentoring on international sales and marketing.

        I request and appointment with you for the same. Could you please!


  4. Karthik

    Well, I was reading the daily newspaper DNA when I came across your story !! Your blog was published in the newspaper . Its nice to read your experiences here in India. I am from Bangalore, born and brought up here !! There are a few expat blog which I read from time to time. Why dont you check out….this is a blog that I visit regularly !!! Anyway Miss Carson, Keep blogging !!!

    bye !!!

    1. angela_carson

      Thanks, Karthik, very nice of you! I will check out the blog you mentioned, thanks!!

  5. Sneha

    Hey Angela,

    I just happened to read an article on you in the DNA daily and was very curious to read your experiences here. Well, after reading your blogs, i feel you are a very good observer and i really liked the way you have described your experiences 🙂 its natural that you feel this way being a first timer in bangalore 🙂

    Hope you enjoy your stay here 🙂 Keep posting 🙂


    1. angela_carson

      Wow, that is such a generous comment to write to a stranger, I love it! Many thanks. I really am having a great time here in India and imagine that I will continue to live here for quite some time beyond my next 3 years that work wants me here 🙂 Hope you will sign up and subscribe and keep reading 🙂 have a great afternoon! angela

  6. gaureshg

    Hi Angela, I am Gauresh. I moved from Mumbai to Bangalore one year ago and stumbled upon your blog last week. I spoke about your blog at work and many of my co-workers liked the way you are having a great time and sharing your experiences.

    Although I am unsure if it was you, I remember an incident when I was at this Odyssey store at 100 ft. I was at the top floor of the store looking for something. There was a blonde, tall, foreigner woman (just like how you described) wwho came to the shop looking at lamps/lampshades from a glass window. The store rep told her that they were not for sale.

    The part that reps attend you as soon as they see you reminded me of this incident.

    Isnt it a small world afterall? 🙂

    1. angela_carson

      Wow, cool…you are a new marketing channel for me I see 🙂 Keep the water cooler chats up please!! hehe And thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really am having lots of fun — and certainly my life has shaped up to be much different than what I thought it would when I moved…better! (by the way, I haven’t done any lamp shopping, wasn’t me). Thanks again! –ang

  7. gaureshg

    Hmmm… Apologies… Must be someone else.

    Please keep writing!! Its fun to look at Bangalore through your blog!!!

  8. Flora

    I’m going to take your advice on the salon and go check it out… I am due for some new low lights. A mani/pedi wouldn’t hurt, either.

    Hello from a tall, fair-skinned California girl also in Bangalore (only for a few weeks though)!

    1. angela_carson

      Go girl… ask for the pedicure from Kumar (yes, a guy!) and the mani from Lela or one of the girls. Kumar gives a much better massage than the girls, it’s amazing!!!

  9. syamukamath

    Haha, tanning saloon and cread in india. You must be
    Havnt you heard ‘FAIR & LOVELY’ , here women are trying to become Fair and lovely by using fair and lovely. And never be suprised if u find a ‘WHITENING’ Saloon, in near future.lols.

    1. angela_carson

      Yes, well, it was my first weeks in India. I was still learning 🙁

      1. syamukamath

        Sorry. I didn mean any offence. It really made me laugh,. Being fed up of fairnes cream advt 1000 times a

  10. syamukamath

    Sorry. I didn mean any offence. It really made me laugh,. Being fed up of fairnes cream advt 1000 times a
    and u look well in the Saree. The colour suites u .

  11. giorgigno dalfe

    very nice programme .
    It’s possible to have your support for my Indian ayurveda holiday at the end of february ?
    I am Italian gentlaman, a bacelor romantic man that is very in love of Life , oriental customs and mentality of Indian ladies.
    Can you help me . please


    1. angela_carson

      Hi giorgigno, I’m so curious what type of support you need for your holiday? Ideas on where to go? Please do let me know — angela

  12. Jason Tauro

    This was a really hilarious post.. Especially where you wanna be tanned so that you can blend. lol..  I can really guess how tall you are and why you feel lke you are  tall when compared to others. Back in India you don't find a lot of tall people. Being 6' or over is a privilege.. Here in the States I see that most girls are tall which is awesome.. Compliments my height.. 😀 

    1. AngelaCarson

      Glad you liked it 🙂  That was the article that landed me the weekly column with DNA newspaper 🙂  Was a fun one to write, too … I like the alien bit myself.  And glad you are enjoying us tall gals in the US -ange

  13. Swapnil

    You look so traditional in that reddish saree. Angela Ma’am.

    1. AngelaCarson

      Thanks, love that sari…was my first one 🙂 

      1. Jason Tauro

        So traditional, yet so whacky.. 😉

  14. Naina

    You look so tall……Curious to know if you have met any female ever who towered you for a change …?

    1. AngelaCarson

      Yeeessss … I mention that in the article actualy 🙂  Love it when it happens -angela

      1. Naina

        Oh …sorry missed it …you are 5″8 (I am also 5″8)…you look much taller in the pics…I have been to holland also …people there are very tall ….some of the ladies are 6 2 6 3 …

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