Sunday, January 27, 2008

Amitabh Bachchan ...five five five

Before i moved to this country , i did some net surfing to read up a little bit , just to get an idea of how life is going to be for me , an Indian there. Out of the many things that i learnt prior to my coming here was that these people just looooove Bollywood.... and the first thing that leaves their lips , after they realise / are told that you are an Indian , is "Amitabh Bachchan" (but pronounced more as Amitaaa Bachchan)

After being here for a week , surprisingly enough i hadnt come across any local who uttered the name of this Bollywood legend after getting to know that I am an Indian. So just when i was about to discard this whole theory of "India = Amitaaa Bachchan" according to the localites here , I happened to hire this cab.

Ok, so heres what happened!

One day after work , after much difficulty , i finally managed to get a cab to go to my hotel after work. (usually its pretty easy to find a cab ...just my luck that day , i guess!). So usually it takes about 6 bucks for this commute from my office to the Hotel , however i generally give ten when I am in a hurry and dont wish to waste time in negotiating. That day i was tired of trying to get a cab ...I had stopped some 6 cabs , told them where i want to go (by showing them this paper slip which i carry with me , one side of which has my hotel address , another side my office address written in the local language!)... and finally had managed to get inside one. This cab driver couldnt understand that i would pay him ten bucks (which is much more than its actually worth) , so i had to gesture 5 twice with my hand , just so he could understand the figure ten.

I dont know whether he understood or not , but i got in the cab anyway . On the way , he asked me if i was an American. I said no and tried to explain that I am fom India. He didnt understand India , but intelligently enough linked it to Hind after thinking for some time (Hind is a more common word for Indians/ India here!) . Just as he made this discovery , his eyes twinkled in delight , and pat came the words - "Amitaaa Bachchan?" . Then as if something hit him , the expression on his face took a 360 degree turn . He told me - "No five five...Amitaa Bachchan....five five five". And after that he kept singing five five five , Amitaa Bachchan , five five five ..... (repeat).....(repeat)...... wasnt ready to listen to me when i tried to protest.

So i sat calmly and thought to myself that i shouldnt ruin his moment of joy with this discovery of me being a Hind , or the discovery of his vocal talent at that very moment , or just remembering to practice his vocal chords (in case he was alraedy aware of his talent OR in case his family didnt let him practice in teh house , hence he was seeking refuge in the workplace i.e. the cab). When we reached my hotel , i told him NO five five five , only five five. He looked at me , made a puppy face and then not so happily took the money . He asked my name meanwhile and after that said - Man name?? (Surprisingly suddenly he knew English!) I said no Man. He then gestured to ask - how come i didnt have a bindi on my forehead if i was a Hind? I said no Man (once again) , No Marriage.... Then he suggested through hand gestures that maybe we should get married....

Out of all the unexpected that i had expected , these sure werent on my list .

.....A cab driver proposing marriage to me!

.....Amitabh Bachchan adding an extra five bucks in my cab fare!

So moral of the story - However much you try to preampt the unexpected , more often than not you will be taken aback (And if you are lucky , maybe this unexpected would amuse you too!)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Surpise, Surprise!!

Few things that took me by surprise in the last few days.Never thought that I would...

...reach office everyday at 9 am (I have never been able to make it before 10.30 in my entire work life!)

...have more coffee than tea in a day (And i have always been a tea person!)

...reject a house just because of the fact that it has a flight of stairs in the living room (which go nowhere!) my Pakistani colleague the best in the office . After all , hes the most helpful of the lot here (and this lot by the way includes some Indian ex colleagues!)

...find the groceries & toiletries would be at the same price as India.

...find the malls being open till 2 am and crowded too (you would never feel its 2 already if you are inside the mall) .... and you could for vegetables at your local vendor till 4 in the morning.

And last but not the least - Food : Never thought i would... Pasta by choice ( me , this was the safest choice after the fiasco like lamb & lady fingers!...there is a typical dish here in which Mutton / lamb is cooked with lady fingers ....eeeeeeew!!)

...crave for Ice Cream ( I have always had ice cream when my friends wanted to , never by my own initiative!) so happy to spot Mcdonalds or a chinese restaurant (anything familiar in food choices would make my spirits soar these days!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weird Dream : Floating in the sea

Yesterday I had the most weird dream (I usually have a sound , dreamless sleep!)
So dreams are a rarity for me.

Anyway so there it was ...the dream....which i still remember , 12 hrs after i have woken up!

In the dream i was sleeping somewhere (this part was blurry) , then the next moment i was in the sea floating on the surface , making my way to the other side . Other side? of the sea? Yes i know its weird ...but in the dream that was how it was.

There was someone else too who was forced to be in the sea , the same floating situation for him or her (i cant remember!) too. So we were to reach the other side of the sea ,while making up for our sleep on the way, whatever we could.Also no swimming apparently cos 1. I don't know how to swim & 2. for some funny reason , i didn't want to wet my clothes (at least all the sides . By floating only one surface of my clothes touched water)

So i floated and flaoted and floated some more...avoiding some dead dog's body in the way whose date of birth was written on its arm and it was 5th of July. And it was as if i was compelled by a strange force to remember that.

I along with that other person reached the other side and had to go the bathroom , something like a Public utility run by govt , which was right there in front of us. So i tried to unlock the door . It was tightly shut and some govt official woman from the other side was guarding it and making sure that it doesn't open. I was outraged as it was meant to be a public utility which should have been accessible to all public all the time.So i peeped in from the window , besides the door and saw that the area was being used for some medical work some patient was there because the adjoining public hospital didn't have enough space for everything. So my fury vaporised .

But i still needed to go the bathroom.....

What happened next? well i don't know..........thats all i remember! Or maybe thats where the dream ended.

Weird , eh??????????

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New city, new country, new discoveries..

Ok ... I have been away for too long , I know...
Was shifting cities , to be more accurate... countries!

Here i am now , in a new country where only 1 in a million speaks my language , and 1 in about 100 speaks the universal language (English!) ... Now i might be wrong as far as these numbers go ...but thats what i have gathered till now.

This is the first time , I am staying out of my own country (and to think , i don't even know for how long!!!). Sure I have visited other countries in the past but this is the first time i have come to a country to work and stay on a NOT temporary basis. Clearly , the way of looking at things (different & similar to your country) changes when you are there to stay as against when you are only visiting for a few days. Everything that i notice now comes with the realisation , that i have to adapt myself to it ...and this discovery of something different is not just a "did you know" bit that i would narrate to my friends when i go back after my visit. (Sure i would tell my friends anyway ....but i would still have to be ok with all these things becoming a part of my life!)

Ok , so in the chapter of "Did you know" are the first few things that struck me...

City of the dead : There is this place in the city where there are houses built over graves. Of course no one stays in them . They are just there to stand as the houses of those who are buried there, in their honour ...or maybe its just to provide them shelter even after they are dead. And its not just houses , its a full fledged replica of any residential area ...with road crossings , direction signals , street lights etc . And this extends to the entire stretch of a very long road (am refraining from numbers here i don't know how many kms , but fairly long!). Spooky , eh?

NO red lights : I come from a city where you encounter a red light every two minutes , so imagine my surprise when i found no red light on a 50 minute drive in the city . And that was no highway!! It was city driving. No red lights.........woo hoo! But no crossings either :( One has to go a long distance to take a U turn and then come to the other side . To be accurate , there are some red lights as i was told but people believe that following them would only lead to accidents!

Excellent Roads - No rains hence fantastic roads. Pity i wouldn't be driving my own car here (I have decided against it as its too much effort trying to get a local driving license , paper work for the car , loan etc ,.,....and then the worry of reselling when i have to come back later sometime) .Maybe , i would change my mind later . But left hand driving? Hope its not too much of a confusion converting to this system if i do change my mind. But given that i have a very poor sense of "left-right"...wonder if i would be able to cope up with this additional left hand driving thing too. And add to that my boss' comment - Good drive but bad drivers.

Water anyone? : I was taken for dinner at an Indian restaurant by my boss along with 2 of my peers (Yes almost negligible % of Indians here , but then isn't Indian food loved across the globe? So inspite of almost no india population here, there are a few indian restaurants). During the meal, I told them that they had forgotten to serve us water. Thats when i discovered that no water is served by default (like in our good old India) and you have to order for it! Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Pretty girls everywhere - Sure most of them put a lot of makeup on ..but I am sure beneath all that they are naturally beautiful too.(I so wish that a partcular friend of mine should come and see what "a lot of makeup" is all about , who had once commented that i put a lot of make up. And for the record i just use an eye liner & lipstick) . Another point about these women - they aren't slim...and this doesn't take away anything from the fact that they are immensely attractive. So fat is not bad after all!! Thank you god for blessing me with millions of walking proofs for this around me :P

No Tubelights - No culture of having tubelights in homes . At least not in any of the ones i have been looking at for renting. Fancy lighting , all yellow , chandelier, the works...but absolutely no tubelights.I like the flouroscent white light from that long tube and am no big fan of yellow fancy (read decorative) lights. Guess i will have to make do with CFLs

to be continued.............