Thursday, June 25, 2009

Culture shock part 3

I initially started writing this out while leaving Gainesville, at the Charlotte airport, where free internet lies. So part me wanted to make it sad about leaving the town, while part of me wanted to make this post a little upbeat about coming home. I eventually did not write anything, except for the title, which I changed.

I had expected myself to be surprised, happy, sad and amused about being back in India. But the thing that I remember is that, on the way back, I did not feel anything. I miss the people and the place, but I know that I will be in touch with the people. The place is changing. Heck, I was surprised to see that new sports facility being built next to Philips Centre near SW Rec Centre! I totally did not see it coming.

So, after reaching India here's a few things that happened:

1: Say hello to that damp smell at the airport. Yes, Russell Peters made a good joke out of it but its sorta true. Its not as bad as he makes it to be, and I didn't notice it after 10 minutes.

2: Bribes! They operate at all levels. I was reminded that my bags could be opened for customs valuation. A little money could spare me all the trouble. Conversing in Marathi helps. Also, a sad fake story of how I decided to return from the US since I could not find a job also helps. They asked me for $200. My stories and the fact that I said I had no US currency but only Indian rupees helped me get off with only a bribe of Rs 1000 ($20).

3: Traffic is not that bad. OK ok... last year I had freaked out. It was 3 am and with that little traffic too I was scared. This time around, I was fine with everything. I guess I expected the madness and had mentally prepared for it. I felt comfortable in that mess. I already started riding the scooter we have at home and I haven't had troubles mingling with the crowd.

4: Crowded means a whole different thing. The number of vehicles and pedestrians I saw on the Sunday afternoon in Mumbai beat the Archer road traffic rush at 5 pm by a huge margin. And after about 30 mins of driving, my dad says: Its good we decided to travel on a Sunday, we missed all that traffic. !!

5: Change and technology are not all that popular. This probably is true everywhere. And also, I think I saw a shitty example of technology. I'd gone to this bank where they had implemented a new system. You have to use a machine to get a token slip with a number on it. No matter what work you have, you wait until your number is called out and then you go to the counter where you have been called from. The point was to prevent crowding near the counters, so that people can sit and relax until its their time. But bad planning means there isn't enough room to sit and the people who stand, stand near the counters any way. So, there is all that crowding and people just complain how it was simpler without any machines printing out tokens. All they had to do was go to the right counter and be out in a jiffy.

6: Food!! :D :D its great to be back to the land of tasty vegetarian foods. I do eat meat but there is little that beats tasty Indian vegetarian food.

7: Malls: They try to imitate the malls that are there in the US, but you still don't get everything under one roof. I like that, but its frustrating to spend 3 hours looking for S-video cable that I would find easily in a Walmart. But then again, if there weren't those small shops selling speciality items, things wouldn't be so cheap. I still don't know where I could find a dozen different things in Gainesville. Luckily, I did not need them. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

An evening...

Picture yourself at a great beach, with some of your closest friends. You know that you will not be here again for a long time. Even if you do end up there sometime later, it is almost impossible to have all of them in the same state as now.

Its evening, and the sand is warm from the heat of the day. It soothes your feet. Kinda like a warm foot massage. The sun is setting, but you don't see it. The beach looks out to the east. You remember that one time when you had camped somewhere close by, and had seen the sun rise over the ocean. All you want to do is lay down in the sand, look at the sky and talk.

And thats exactly what you do. The warm sand is one of the most comfortable things to lay on. You know that you are now closer to those around you. The details of the conversation will be forgotten soon. But it has got you back to the same terms with others as before. Maybe better.

As you walk back to your car, you start thinking of the things that you always promise to do. And the things that you did. You smile when you remember all the madness that went with it. You try to dismiss the things that you did not do as something that wasn't important anyway. You are in the car and on the road already. You notice fireworks. Perfect!

You notice the city skyline ahead in front of you. Its dark, and the buildings are lit. The bridges, piers, boats and signboards, all are lit for the night. It will be a long time before you go to this city again, at this time of the day. Its a great parting sight.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling