thousand-yard stare

The thousand-yard stare is defined as a “limp, unfocused gaze of a battle-weary warrior”.  A term coined after the soldiers returned home from the Pacific battles in WWII with this type of gaze (a characteristic of PTSD).  I’m going to use the term to also describe the look westerners develop after being in Southeast Asia for enough time.  It’s the ability to stare straight ahead through the midst of crowded streets and markets, absorbing everything around you, but not making direct contact with a single person.  Direct eye contact with certain people can lead to endless hassling to buy the nearest street hawker’s trinket, men grabbing your arms to try to lead you to their shops to buy cheap suits or girls, or the endless children that beg you for money.  If you give a child a dollar, you will feed him for a day.  If you give a child a dollar, he will ALSO scream to his friends and you will be surrounded little palms hoping that your generosity has not been extinguished.  The thousand-yard stare allows you to avoid the pitfalls of eye contact and continue on your way.

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