India, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways, One…

I am Canadian! I am proud, I bleed maple syrup, love hockey and three down football; I ski and skate, I apologize too much, my favorite pass time is teasing Americans; back bacon, poutine and Nanaimo bars are the greatest foods on earth…believe it. Minus ten is not cold and there is nothing wrong with a beer with your breakfast if you are at the cottage or camping. I am also a Brit. A pompous, stuck up, tight assed, stiff upper lipped British subject; and bloody fiercely proud of that too! Go on, insult the Monarchy…you’ll see. I’ll gut you gullet to gizzard. But it’s not over yet, recently I received my OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) in my adopted nation and new home. Now I’m Indian too. Well, time to celebrate I would say! By way of indoctrinating myself into the culture, I have compiled this tidy collection of mild Indian irritants. Just for a laugh of course. Easily offended Indians may now exit to the left in an orderly manner (good luck with that) and as for the rest of my new compatriots, I dare you to call foul! Ah India, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways, One…

Lining Up

Let’s start with the relatively simple task of forming a queue. As I alluded to in my opening, Indians can’t. They are physically unable to form a line. I think at heart they are a nomadic people. Freedom and exploration are ingrained deep within their psyche, along with the strong desire to get everywhere first. They may start out with good intentions, with barriers and ropes and such. But these will eventually be trampled, like your hopes of any orderly entrance to the movie theatre, getting on an airplane, boarding a bus or being served in order at any kiosk. I must admit, things have improved drastically since demonetization! All that lining up at the ATMs had some adverse effects apparently! Imagine, in a bold effort to wipe out black money in India, the BJP (the party in power at the moment) inadvertently launched the largest instructional etiquette class in human history! The tension has eased now and as a nation, Indians almost learned how to queue! Luckily, this behaviour is not limited to pedestrian traffic; it extends to vehicular traffic also!

Indians in a line

Driving

When I was a kid if I had been a good boy, my dad would take me to the Smash ‘Em Up Derby on warm summer Sunday afternoons. It was a delightful treat for me! Sitting with my dad and eating candy floss, watching all the brightly painted cars smash and crash into each other in a dirt track bullring! Now all I have to do is go for a drive to the market! My father is no longer with me unfortunately, but I can get some candy floss and head out onto any Indian highway, byway, street, road or avenue and catch all the excitement from a live instalment of “Look Ma, I Can Drive With My Eyes Closed!”. Seriously…I do it all the time, out of fear mostly, but sometimes it’s just the most effective way to enter a round-about. Close your eyes and step on the gas. Don’t worry if you get a scratch or two on the paint. Whoops, lost your wing mirror? No problem. In India, these are symbols of your driving prowess! The more dents, dings, scratches and missing body parts, the better driver you are! Don’t be shy, tell the world you should be in front; get out there and kick your quarter panel! And don’t forget to honk!!

Indian Driving

Cuisine

Ahhhh, Indian food. I do love it, truly. But what about those rare occasions when you feel like something other than Indian food? I can 100% guarantee all Indians reading this article have a look of extreme puzzlement on their faces this very moment. They will have absolutely no idea what I am on about! Other food?? What in God’s name does he mean other food?? Seriously, your average Indian tourist will be in Paris or Rome and still source out the closest Biryani Blues Restaurant for dinner. I am not suggesting there is no foreign cuisine in India; of course there is! Like Cardamom Chicken Cordon bleu, or Cumin Duck à l’orange and the ever popular Tender Pork Wiener Schnitzel with coriander. Am I hinting that all Indian food may taste the same? Don’t be silly! Now go eat your curried cookies and chili pepper ice cream!

Indian Buffet

Internet

I started writing this piece on July 2, 1996. It has only just posted. Internet services here make me long for the flashy speed of dial-up connections! Okay, I get it. Asia is lagging behind in technology availability a little bit. But I’m not living in a hut in the middle of a Gujarat Mangrove swamp! I’m in Delhi! The capitol! A city of over twenty-five million people! You would think maybe one of them would figure out why the internet speed nose dives every night at 9:00? I get scolded every time I pipe off about the internet. “Do you realize how lucky you are? Most of the country doesn’t even have internet!”…okay, okay, I’m lucky, but as a large portion of what I do on a daily basis is WWW Dot oriented…it raises concern that 50% of the time my connection is out or so slow that wifi can’t even find it! Each and every month I pay for 30 days of service! By my calculations, based on the down time accrued, I shouldn’t have to pay Nextraworld a single rupee until 2036.

wood dish

Television

English subtitles on English speaking programs. Wow…I just don’t understand. Switch the subtitles to Hindi maybe? Okay, that I can get my head around, but English on English freaks me out. I won’t comment on the gratuitous amount of censorship. Different cultures, different tolerances. Who am I to say? But it is funny as hell when they ****  out the word ‘shit’ in the subtitles and it’s spoken clear as day in the dialog. Seriously, the censorship is so extensive that on commercial Indian TV, a normal 60 minute episode of Game of Thrones is compiled of 40 minutes worth of commercials, 10 minutes of opening and closing credits and 9 1/2 minutes of John Snow standing on top of the Wall, staring out into space. There…that’s safe for the Indian populous! Not that you will really notice what’s happening during the show. There are far too many other things going on around your screen to pay attention to. The scrolling banner ad along the bottom reminding you who to vote for and that LIC doesn’t do phone solicitation. There is the weather updates and cricket scores flashing on and off. Now that I think of it, it was at least two months before I even realized there was subtitles! My personal favorite screen addition invariably comes at a every crucial plot twist, “ John, I am not the mother of your child, don’t hate me, this will explain everything, look… ‘00000000123B’ right across the middle of the screen covering every essential visual prop necessary to understand everything you have been watching! Ah well, I could check online to find out what happened…but the internet is out.

TV

Customer Service and Consumer Satisfaction

There isn’t any.

India Table

 

Wedding Bands, Construction and Other Sleep Deterrents

Everyone in India gets married between the hours of 11:00 pm and 4:15 am and hires a 102 piece Hindi/Mariachi band to follow them everywhere. Round and round the community, so everyone gets to participate in the marriage. Every night of the week, because in India, days have no significance. 8:00am Sunday morning is a reasonable time to start jack hammering is it not? After all, you have had plenty of sleep since the wedding band finally shut down at 4:36 am. Yes, India is a Hindu country, so Sunday doesn’t exactly hold the same significance as it does in Christian countries. However, Indians work through the week just like everyone else. The weekend, for most, is their two days off as well. So why is this acceptable? I literally have not had a full night’s sleep or a lay in, in over four years. Honk Honk, it’s s 6:00 am and your driver is here to pick you up.  My society (apartment complex) as do most, has a security man who patrols the grounds at night. Every hour on the hour they take a few steps,  blow a whistle and tap a stick on the ground. Normally, this procedure is carried out in a manner in which one can sleep through it. However, the society next to ours has apparently hired a New Orleans Marching Jazz Band to do their patrols. God strike me dead if I am lying. At 3:55am, they will slam a stick and then blow a rape whistle. Tap, Tweet. Then they begin patrol. Tap, Tweet, Tap, Tweet, Tap, Tweet. Then they get the groove… Tap Tap, Tweet, Tap Tap, Tweet Tweet Tweet, Tap Tap ta tapitty tapp tap tweet tweet!! I am up and dancing my way to the frikin’ bathroom by this point. Well, at least I’m safe. All the burglars and midnight murderers won’t be bothering me; they are too busy doing the Lambada…

security in India

 

Yes, I could go on. But I won’t, lest people begin to believe I have not a positive word to say about my beloved new home. And I do, I truly do. I love India and there is far more good than bad, same as every country. Read one of my other stories if you don’t believe me; I am constantly awed and inspired here. Written above are but simple facts of life a Canadian cum Brit has to deal with when taking the plunge into a massive relocation project such as this. Most days I shrug these discrepancies off; at worst, I blog about them and at best, I laugh. With the support and guidance of my princess bride, I endure these little speed bumps and make it through another day…just please, tonight, no curry on my cake…

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A Canadian born Brit with a bad case of wanderlust

8 thoughts on “India, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways, One…

  1. Fun to read your honest post. I am an Indian but like every other nation, we have our own good and bad habits. We have long way to go.

    1. Yes Upasna, like every nation. The important thing to remember is that it’s all in good fun, and I truly do love it here, that’s why I applied for citizenship. Please do share the story with your friends!

  2. Ok, I loved it. From the sheer failure to commit to standing in a queue, to the driving and unusual amount of traffic and honking of horns, to the food that most honestly will taste like Indian cuisine, even if it is suppose to be Italian. I definitely had a chuckle regarding the bands and the wedding, and most certainly the security guards. I have been here for 2.5 years now, and live very close to the local train station. We slowly became adjusted to the sound of the trains, and the night watchman, who would precisely start his shift at 10:30 with a whistle and a tap, yet just a few mornings ago, I was sure the train was going to be coming into our bedroom. The sounds, and smells and immense amount of people are sometimes overwhelming to the senses, but the people and their kindness and their willingness to help override all else.

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