It’s amazing, really, how quickly the serious, quiet atmosphere of a high-school historical tour changes as soon as the guide mentions the word Kama-Sutra.
At the main market area in Hyderabad, India. Photo Creds to River Wittke.
Ok, so you’ve just disembarked from something close to a sixteen hour flight; you’re starving because the food you’ve just eaten was half frozen, your hair is greasy, your eyes are drooping from fatigue, your whole body is covered in a layer of sweat, grime and water thanks to the humid thirty-something degree weather and, to make it worse, you are stuck next to a baggage carousal waiting and watching- praying that your bag wasn’t stolen by mysterious Indian elves all the while desperately needing to visit the restroom. It is at this point in time that you turn to the guy next to you who has been your shadow for the past hour through customs or so due to him being your ‘unaccompanied minor escort’ and ask him if he knows if there’s a bathroom anywhere near here. His response was one of the weirdest things I have ever encountered in human behavior.
“The Indian Head Bobble?” you might be thinking to yourself now “Is that some kind of racist wobble doll?” No, in fact it isn’t. As it so happens, the Indian Head Bobble or Head Wiggle or Waggle or anything else you want to call it that involves onomatopoeias is actually a tilting movement of the head somewhere in between a nod or a shake found in South Asia but which is most popular in India. It’s meanings can include: no, yes, maybe, may I have some curry?, I don’t know, I like curry, how are you?, do you want curry?, and silly foreigner- you’re supposed to eat the curry- not swish it around on your plate! So, I’m sure that by this point you’ve figured out the main problem with this manner of communication. It’s the same problem experienced by cavemen grunt speakers. We have no idea which meaning the bobber is trying to convey. For all we know, he or she could be telling us aliens have invaded planet Earth.
So, it was with a heavy heart and solid determination that I resolved to journey into the vast and intimidating abyss that is the Internet to discover once and for all the many meanings and culture behind all this head waggling. Almost two hours later I emerged gasping for air and exhausted beyond imagination. Gripped tightly in my exerted hands was the legendary information searched for by foreigners and bobble-less people for thousands of years. It is with pride that I take the chance to educate you now.
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According to Rinda Sama, an Indian living in Seattle, the Indian Head Bobble first originated when India was under The Indian Monarchy. When replying to the Rulers of India (both British and Indian) the people were reluctant to say no due to the often violent responses of their country’s leaders so they would tend to sway and shake their head back and forth to let them decide for themselves what they wanted it to mean.The bobble was born.
Now while this information may not have come from a scientifically dependable source it is a very probable origin for the wiggle. When it comes down to it, though, knowing how it originated isn’t going to be of much use when trying to decide on a price for the taxi your trying to hail down or when you’re desperately trying to convey to the waiter that you need a glass of water to rid your mouth of the flaming sensation threatening the extinction of your taste buds. No, what you’ll really need is a way to decipher this enigma. Lucky for your mouth, that is exactly what’s coming.