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June 2, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

The Indian Wiggle (thanks to Hugh Janus)
posted by hadjiboy (25 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"For instance, there was this guy who smiled weakly and asked us, with a halfhearted shrug, "Monkey dance?" Our eyes followed the leash in his hand, which led to the neck of a monkey. The most jaded, world-weary monkey I've ever seen. The Lou Reed of monkeys. He looked like he was about to sit down, pull out his works, and shoot a big syringe full of heroin into his paw. Needless to say, we declined the monkey dance—which I'm guessing would have been some sort of sad, simian death-jig."

Definitely worth the trip, if you ask me.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:30 AM on June 2, 2007

I love the wiggle. My husband and I have been wiggling ever since he came back from a working trip to Mumbai. I'm a pretty good head wiggler; I also have the Greek head tilt/raised eyebrows thing for "no" down pretty well.
posted by taz at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2007

The description of this wiggle is not sufficient. Does anyone have a video?
posted by mrnutty at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2007

I was about to say the same thing as mrnutty. I can kind of imagine it, but this is not a good thing to describe textually.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on June 2, 2007

I'm probably totally wrong on this, but check this out at about 19 seconds. It may not be THE head wiggle, but it is thrilling. (youtube)
posted by isopraxis at 11:47 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am sure I am wrong, but check out 20 seconds on this one.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:56 AM on June 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Labeled Indian head nod, but I think we have a winner.
posted by dhartung at 12:44 PM on June 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

I also have the Greek head tilt/raised eyebrows thing for "no" down pretty well.

If you add "a pa pa" as you do that you will pass for greek at any dinner table. even better if you can make a short "ts" with your tongue clicking the roof of your mouth.
posted by phaedon at 12:58 PM on June 2, 2007

*Adds Mr_Zero's link to the list of creepiest things I've seen*
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hey, that's awesome, thanks hadjiboy.

*wiggles head*
posted by breezeway at 12:59 PM on June 2, 2007

if anybody's dying for the full-length "boop! bwap bwap!" from indian superstar, its a remix called "holiday rap" by MC Miker and DJ Sven, and i put it up here.
posted by phaedon at 1:07 PM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, that was an interesting tactic for a travel writer; tell me everything I'm going to hate about a place, and by the last page have me convinced that I might actually enjoy it.

Well written.
posted by quin at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2007

phaedon: Yes! Thank you... I've been intending to download this as an example of the goofy charm of lowlands pop music for my radio show.
posted by phrontist at 1:34 PM on June 2, 2007


Here we go. (Having been asked countless times if I speak "Jewish", this clip made me laugh a lot)
posted by jake at 1:51 PM on June 2, 2007

Oops, I meant:
posted by jake at 1:53 PM on June 2, 2007

Seconding what quin said, although I'm not sure if he was serious or not.

Nicely done as always, hadjiboy.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:08 PM on June 2, 2007

I worked in Bangalore for 2 months 10 years ago. I loved it.
I took the head wiggle to mean "I am hearing what you're saying" but not necessarily yes or no, which can be frustrating at first.
posted by chococat at 2:47 PM on June 2, 2007

This was a great post. I love learning stuff like this.
posted by puddinghead at 3:20 PM on June 2, 2007

* wiggles head enthusiastically at hadjiboy over this post *

training myself out of head-wiggling over anything & everything is one of the saddest parts of coming down from a trip to india.

i sometimes seek out convenience stores staffed by indians just so i can wiggle over something - "Ricky Ponting was playing very fine innings yesterday...he is surely number one batsman in world" - but the wiggle coming from a non-desi in Sydney seems just a bit too unexpected for them, and they rarely seem to comprehend why my head is bouncing around like that...an interesting reversal of roles, really...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 PM on June 2, 2007

Haha, thanks for the links guys! I thought of adding a visual display of the wiggle, but it only came to me as an after-thought. dhartung’s got it though. (That’s Chiranjeevi in the first clip by the way, and Rajnikanth in the second one.)
posted by hadjiboy at 5:35 PM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

The autobiographical Shantaram contains a pretty good westerner's explanation of the head-wiggle. It also happens to be a fascinating story, and contains a wealth of detail for Indiaphiles, from a slighty out-of-the-ordinary perspective. 100% top-notch UbuRating for this one.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:44 PM on June 2, 2007

(of course, many a head-wiggle can also have its meaning suitably clarified by an accompanying "achcha")
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:53 PM on June 2, 2007

I've always loved that wiggle, and I wish I could do it.

Great post. Thanks, hadjiboy.
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on June 2, 2007

My wife and I were in India for a wedding. One morning at our hotel we sat down for for breakfast. We didn't know about the wiggle yet. Do you have corn flakes we ask, , oh, eggs? , oatmeal oh crap, how about yougurt

oh, well what do you have ?

sir, we have all of those items.

And thus we discovered the wiggle

posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:34 PM on June 2, 2007

I knew an Indian programming contractor who wiggled all the time. I finally asked him what it meant, and he just shrugged and said he didn't know.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:43 PM on June 2, 2007

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