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More different…………..

February 13, 2009

This list is endless – so I will just continue it in bits and pieces…

If you are new to this blog –You might want to read this first.

The guards call me madam and salute us when we walk in the gate to our house. Completely unnecessary. And, frankly, a little funny. Especially since I don’t usually wear a military uniform or a tiara.

I do not answer the door. The very nice man who works here does. That’s nice. It’s usually not for me anyway.

They collect the cable bill by coming to your door and asking for payment. Cable is $12 per month.

The floors are made of marble. They are certainly pretty but not too cozy.

The phone in the house is not cordless. In fact, there are two phones and they both have different phone numbers.

The tv station we most often watch is in English and it has subtitles for all the shows – yes, in English.

Turning on the oven – okay, this is not an easy task. First you turn on the outlet. Yes, the outlet. Then you turn on the oven. Then you set the timer (it will not come on without the timer on.) Then you set the temperature. The temperature is in Celsius – I was not a math major. I was an English major and it is hard enough to spell Celsius much less convert Fahrenheit to it.

To turn off the oven – I have learned to just unplug it.

The microwave does not have a light inside of it or a popcorn preset button. What? That’s not weird or different – it’s pure insanity.

Each bathroom has its own water heater – and so does the kitchen. Put that green eyed monster away – they are (very) smallish.

There are not many people here who are overweight. In fact, most of them are pretty thin. A lot of them ride bikes – so it really makes perfect sense. I need to get a bike – but I would not ride it in the middle of the street. No one wears a bike helmet.

Electricity is not a given. The other day half of the house was without power. Some of the lights worked but not all – the same was true for the outlets. Okay. I asked Raju if we should call someone – nope, it will probably come back on. Probably? Yes, the freezer is connected to the line without power. Probably might not be good enough. It came back on.

There is always traffic. Cars, rickshaws, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, cows, and pedestrians all share the same roads. You can never really drive very fast.

There is a group of young men who play cricket in the park in front of our house. I still do not understand cricket.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2009 4:22 pm

    Hi Lola (I saw that in the signature of your comments),

    It is very heartening to see you write about Indian, from India, of your experiences as an American. It is like a breath of fresh air.

    I am an Indian in the USA and having spent more than half my life in India, having been born an Indian, in India, having experienced the USA (and other western countries), reading you is like WOW. “I know exactly how she feels and why”, I kept saying to myself as I was reading.

    I can understand you being surprised at how things work (or not work) in India because I know the USA lifestyle. I also chuckle at you being surprised because for me, it is home and everyday matter (though even I get surprised at the traffic and number of people when I visit once in a couple of years).

    The best part is that you have gone there with such an open mind even though you know there are so many issues with India, but there are, as you would see, many many good things about it too.

    Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.
    Cheers and all the best.

  2. Tottsmom permalink
    February 16, 2009 11:57 am

    OK, So I take you Deep and your sister too. Who’s the cook in the family, I would LOVE to learn how to make all that wonderful Indian food. (Although at this point we will not be coming to India, The economy has zapped that job too.)

  3. February 16, 2009 1:33 am

    I completely agree with you about what is happening on the roads – madness! That’s why I haven’t started driving in Mumbai yet…

  4. February 16, 2009 12:46 am

    Ha ha ha. The mystique isn’t in how it all works. It’s just a different system, that’s all. The mystique is somewhere else entirely.

    @ Lola & Tottsmom – I am only good with some stuff. Somehow I never inherited my mom’s incredible talent for bargaining. My little sister is a champion at that. They can make a man asking for Rs.750 for a bag, sell it for Rs.110!!! And at the end of it all, he still smiles and asks them to come back again. Now THAT’S talent!!!

  5. February 15, 2009 11:08 pm

    Badass – it is strange in fun way (well, at least most of the time)

    Jurate – they are mostly on the sidewalk but many of them find their way into the streets – traffic just rolls around them

    Tottsmom – I understand that we are very lucky to have had the electricity flicker only once

    Deep – wow – you spent a lot of time on that – you are going to spoil the mystique of India – most of my readers are friends from the US – you are going to make my adventure not seem as mysterious 😎

    Deep and Tottsmom – have no fear – I will not be getting a bike – I am too old for that

    Lola – 😎

  6. February 15, 2009 8:59 pm

    Aren’t you lucky to have Deep to tell you how it all works!

  7. Tottsmom permalink
    February 14, 2009 3:23 pm

    Wow, I want Deep on my side if I ever get to India! Except that I have no idea how much a pack of cigarettes cost in the States so I cannot say if that is a good price or not, but I get the point. We think Wow, ONLY $12 for cable (we won’t discuss how much my cable/internet bill is every month) and you say, OUCH that is 3 times to much.

  8. February 14, 2009 12:49 pm

    OK, my friends in Delhi tell me that $12, that’s approximately Rs.600 (Rupees), for cable is a total rip-off. Please look at Tata Sky, or Airtel Digital, or Big TV, or Dish TV, or some other DTH service, which will be cheaper and will have better picture quality. Here is a tough lesson for you. In India, they see foreign face, they try to rip you off. And you don’t mind because it’s just a few dollars to you. Consider this, the most expensive brand of cigarettes here is probably Indian, called India Kings. It costs more than Marlboros or other imported ciagrettes like Camel. You can get a packet of India Kings for an MRP (Maximum Retail Price, fixed and marked on all packs, above which you CANNOT charge) of Rs.100, which is the princely sum of $2, or less, depending on the exchange rate, for a 20s pack. So unless you are fantastically rich, and don’t mind helping the cause of some unscrupulous rascal, ask a normal Indian about prices before you commit. It will always sound cheap to you, but only an Indian will be able to give you a realistic idea. In short…Dorothy…you’re not in Kansas anymore!!!

  9. Tottsmom permalink
    February 14, 2009 11:27 am

    Deep, very enlightening. I love getting an Indian’s perspective on things that we find different. I think I have to agree with you on the bike. Does not sound like a good idea for a novice.

  10. February 14, 2009 7:17 am

    @ Tottsmom, you pay for the “on again” part of it.

  11. February 14, 2009 7:14 am

    As someone born in India and having lived ONLY in India for all the 27 years of my life, let me give you an Indian perspective on all this…

    The guards call me madam and salute us – common politeness. Sorta like raising your hat to a lady.

    I do not answer the door. The very nice man who works here does. – you’re the “maalkin” (female gender for owner, the male is “maalik”). You are not going to get off your …err…behind…every time someone rings the bell! That’s ridiculous!

    They collect the cable bill by coming to your door and asking for payment – and they don’t do that in the U.S.? On a more serious note, cable television here is more like a small scale industry, and is probably just run by some dude in the neighborhood. So, it’s just cheaper and better this way.

    Cable is $12 per month – whoa! That’s expensive, I pay $4!!!

    The floors are made of marble – cool in summer, classy looking, easy to clean, expensive, they are THE thing to have. Every cool person either wants marble, or already has marble. I don’t, I care for the environment.

    The phone in the house is not cordless – ahem! Why not just buy a small little, not-so-expensive Sony or Panasonic cordless phone and plug it in? The same cable and plug usually work. Besides, cordless phones don’t work during power cuts, this one does, and there are a host of other advantages. Plus, it’s cheaper, both to use, and to provide (for your service provider).

    The tv station we most often watch is in English and it has subtitles for all the shows – yes, in English – for the hearing impaired.

    The temperature is in Celsius – we were a British colony, remember? Probably also why the car steering wheel is on the wrong side.

    it is hard enough to spell Celsius – you have got to be joking!

    convert Fahrenheit to it – err, don’t you have a converter on your mobile phone? We all do.

    The microwave does not have a popcorn preset button – the popcorn packet has detailed instructions on the reverse.

    Each bathroom has its own water heater – very common. Usually means the plumber got into the act later than the rest of the guys.

    and so does the kitchen – a kitchen with a water heater? Far out!

    There are not many people here who are overweight – yes, Mcdonald’s and KFC have’t penetrated far enough into India yet, but give us a few years, we’ll get there.

    I need to get a bike – very very very very bad idea. Car is better.

    No one wears a bike helmet – what on earth is a bike helmet?

    Electricity is not a given – third world country, coal shortage, blah blah blah!

    Some of the lights worked but not all – you have an inverter, which is like a battery which can run some stuff, but not things like freezers, which consume a lot of power, especially with our kind of ambient temperature. If you never want to face this ever again, get yourself a generator and a household UPS (Un-interrupted Power Supply)

    Probably? – yes, like a cockroach will probably not crawl into your nose if you sleep without a mosquito net.

    You can never really drive very fast – oh yes you can! And very often such rides end in a sudden, bone crushing, metal crunching stop.

    There is a group of young men who play cricket in the park in front of our house – there go your window panes!

    I still do not understand cricket – you can take consolation in the fact that no Indian understands baseball. I definitely don’t, even after trying very hard.

    There now…don’t you feel all better?

  12. Tottsmom permalink
    February 13, 2009 5:59 pm

    Ok, cable is only $12, but what do you have to pay for on again, off again and again electricity.

  13. February 13, 2009 11:11 am

    “There is always traffic. Cars, rickshaws, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, cows, and pedestrians all share the same roads. You can never really drive very fast.”

    I have to disagree with this part, cows actually use sidewalks and I have a picture to prove it! 🙂

    http://agirlfromforeign.blogspot.com/2009/01/exemplary-mumbai-resident.html

  14. February 13, 2009 11:05 am

    How strange the differences are…

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