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. :)


  1. it sounds different than ur last one. u can tell ur a lil sad about leaving but at the same time you are looking at home without any kind of nostalgia. more of a "duh of course this will happen," instead of "wow coming bak home has so much drama." Like the bit about the traffic and the bribes. =)

  2. hey...nice post... i like ur 'Culture Shock' series a lot... :) there was a time when i used to think that if people who take bribes were put thru a better education system, maybe they'd learn not to... but now i'm thinking, if they were indeed put thru a better education system, they'd still take bribes anyway, n wud probably know enough NOT to take $20 instead of $200....