This plant is called Touch-Me-Not. Alex from TheTribeGoa told us about it. How the English spread it around in the colonial times because they thought a plant that reacts to touch is funny. The scientific name is even funnier, Mimosa Pudica (modest, bashful). Despite the name, it soon became highly invasive. No herbivorous mammal really eats it because of the thorny branches and it reacts much better than native plants to the common clearing practice - fire.
To me, it made me think about myself. About the fact that here in India I also react like a touch-me-not sometimes. When I get smashed in and later pushed out an overcrowded bus, when me queueing at a counter becomes quickly a compact crowding, I tend to retract and get nervous. Bashful. The sense of personal space here is way different from mine and even more so for Anna, used to Polish standard. Interpersonal distance is different in every culture and tend to get smaller in warm climate countries, which is something you get quite soon when travelling and it was even nailed down by proxemic researchers.
The other side of the coin of such a contact culture is that intimate touch between friends is supercommon and it is not labelled “gayish”. Here two male friends can walk hand in hand, or touch in a way Anna would sometime hardly grant me, without rising bewilderment or sneering. It is nothing more than a way to express your feelings, your being connected. I think in our (Central European) society intimate touch got somehow too flattened toward the sexual sphere, making it acceptable only between a mother and her kid, and till a certain age. The 3 wise monkeys ("see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is a Japanese maxim, another country not really regarded as touchy-feely) miss their brother, as if there was not even need to mention "don't touch". Yet touch is extremely important. It's the most sophisticated sense and the first a fetus develops in the womb. Way before seeing or hearing, we establish our contact through touch.
But to my disappointment body contact in central Europe is underrated. I am a touchy person. Even in Gary Chapman's test it came out touch is my main language of love. I do use this sense intensely. And I miss it when I have to refrain from using it. I'd love to live in a society were haptic communication is highly regarded, a hug is warmly welcome and a caress is not straight away read as a courtship strategy but simply a way to say I'm here and I care.
Much to learn from people like Indians.