I'm Tom Cruise

The night of the Bangla New Year, I went to an amusement park named Fantasy Kingdom with some friends. The place was packed and it didn’t take long for them to realize what life is like in Bangladesh for me: blatant staring, people wanting to touch me, get their photos taken with me.

My friends started to call me Tom Cruise and we brainstormed a business: Get your picture taken with Tom Cruise. We assigned rolls. Tuhin would be the manager and Kamrul the security. I, of course, was Tom.

You’re probably thinking that all of this is an exaggeration. That you’ve been places where there was no one like you and people stared. Trust me. Unless you are famous or are a whitey at a Bangladeshi rock concert, you have no idea.

A grown man in his 40’s approaches and motions that he wants to get his picture taken with me. “Fine,” I nod. His buddy whips out his camera phone and snaps multiple shots. And then the mob begins.

Someone somewhere through open the gates of bizarro world and I am the center of the universe. Camera phones, too many to count, at least 20 or 30, are thrust in my face. People are pushing their way to me. I don’t know which way to look. My smile fatigues and droops to a this-is-freaky grimace.

I’m sucked into a Bangladeshi mosh pit. If you haven’t seen this there is a lot of hand-holding, gyrating, hugging, basically everything that you would do at a rock concert in the States if you wanted to get your ass kicked real bad, real fast, real hard, and thoroughly. People get sucked into these things and never heard from again. Those that do survive tend to be a little off the remainder of their slobber-filled years.

A crazed Bangladeshi is holding both of my hands and is thrashing me about. I manage to do some dance move jujitsu and break his grasp and make it back to my posse.

We leave. I’m too famous to stay.

I’m Tom Cruise.

PS -For $5 dollars you can get your picture taken with me.

Add a comment
Kent says:

Ok Tom… Try being the only black guy on Huangshan mountain during a week long Chinese national holiday… then we’ll talk about camera phones!

Kelsey says:

Yo! Denzel. I feel your pain.

But I match your world’s most populated nation (China) with the world’s most densely populated nation (Bangladesh). And I’ll raise your Chinese Holiday with a Bangladeshi mosh pit on the most partying day of the year.

The way I see it your blackness and my whiteness cancel out in this situation.

I think we can both agree on two things: 1. These situations are very uncomfortable 2.We should do a movie together sometime.


Tom Cruise

Mike says:

Similar experience in China, although I imagine it’s far worse in Bangladesh because of the (obvious) trend I spotted in China — the more poor/disconnected-from-the-west a village/city, the more I was a celebrity. In the city where I was working, a city of 4 million, I was 1 of 15 foreigners, and 1 of 10 Americans.

And now that I’m back in NY, I honestly miss that type of celebrity.

A strange anecdote: I visited a man in a village who did not understand that not all foreigners (wai guo ren) are from America.

Kelsey says:


I’ll be heading to China (that’s where my flip flops were made) on this trip so I’ll be able to compare.

It’s strange how some see the world. I had a lady ask me the other day if I was Muslim or Hindu, as if those were the only options.

Kent says:

Alright Tom, you got me this round! But this isn’t over!

I would have been great in Collateral, but Noooo. Let me tell you something TOM, Jamie Fox ain’t got NOTHING on Me!

Let your voice be heard!