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Livin it up in India

Written on: Thursday May 29th, 2008

A journal entry from: Bangalore Insanity

Hello All,

Bangalore is amazing. I am having the time of my life. The work I?ve been doing is really interesting and surprisingly I am actually getting to put law school to use as they have me drafting proposals for policy and legislation changes in India. 

I?ve been here since May 7th and the changes that have taken place in the last 3 weeks have been drastic.  As soon as I got off the plane and stepped onto Indian soil I was definitely a little lost. I hate to admit it because I like to be the ?don?t worry man I?m from India I know what?s going on? guy, but it didn?t exactly turn out that way. I went straight from the airport to a ?service apartment? which is pretty much like a hotel?but this place was in the middle of NOWHERE. There was nothing nearby, the rickshaw ride to work was completely out of the way and no diver knew where it was.  

Then there was the apartment search. Apartments need a huge deposit so the only real option is a PG (paying guest) which is usually a couple rooms that people have attached to their houses for some extra income. After looking at a few places that could easily be mistaken for prison cells, I found a gem. By ?gem? I mean it costs about $180 a month, is cleaned daily, and my laundry is done for me once a week. But it also doesn?t have hot water, or a shower, so I?m taking cold ?bucket showers? everyday, and the place is also not completely finished so I have guys sanding a wardrobe when I come home some nights! Oh and it also doesn?t have a mirror so I often come to work only to realize that I look disturbingly hideous?my first week involved a shaving incident with a sideburn that was only discovered hours later in the washroom mirror at work. Thank God I shaved my head, because there is no way that my metrosexual haircut would be able to withstand a mirrorless styling.

That all being said, I have gotten over the culture shock of different languages, no family/friends friends from home, the pollution, and all the other peculiarities of Bangalore.

I?ve definitely gotten into my groove and I have been meeting tons of new people and going to some crazy places (went to a local farm party last weekend with friends from work and it was out of control). I also eat EVERYTHING I see, especially street food. I?ve even started drinking water at all the restaurants (which my parents will kill me for). It?s hard not to eat non-stop and get fat around here because the food is so good and I pay about $1 for breakfast $2 for lunch and about $2.50 for dinner!!!  

Lately I?ve been feeling like a real local. I?ve given up sunglasses, a watch, my camera, and shorts so I can look more like I?m from here?and I think it?s working. Also, every rickshaw driver speaks a different language around here (Kannada, Telagu, Hindi etc...) so I just speak Gujrati and even though they have no idea what I?m saying, they know it?s not English and just assume I?m from around here.  

BUT the other York intern (Ana Babic) usually doesn?t allow me to fully display my skills, because no matter what you look like, when you walk up to a rickshaw driver next to a 6foot tall European girl, you are paying the ?tourist tax?. When we?re out together, somehow cab metres stop working and charge expensive flat rates, street food vendors stop having change, and bar tabs seem to imply that we drank more beer between us than a large town consumes in a week?.we are having a great time!!

Talk to you all soon!

Tariq

 

From Larissa on May 30th, 2008

Fun! I love how you describe how the experience can change on a dime depending on who you are standing next to. You are in an interesting position in that you can pass as a local even though you aren't-ish. Your techniques to mask your foreignness are clever. I also appreciate the fact that you are honest with yourself in recognizing how intense India can be and that game plans quickly go out the window. What is it with taxi cab drivers in India not knowing where they are going? That is the second time this week I have heard that.

From Lindsay on May 31st, 2008

Haha, your experience as a local reminds me of myself in Lithuania! When I am with my fellow intern - a girl of Guyanese descent named Alana - I am often mistaken for her interpeter! This has led to several mistaken conversations...but we're quickly becoming 'famous' for being the two non-Lithuanian speaking Canadian girls in this entire small town! I hope you continue to have fun exploring :)

From Denoja Kankesan on May 31st, 2008

Living in Malaysia I can completely relate to taxi drivers not knowing where they are going! and about looking local, I have also found that if I ask a taxi driver to take me somewhere in Tamil they are always more willing and charge much less. I guess there are advantages to "looking the part".

From mitra on Jun 2nd, 2008

that sounds fun!You must love those bucket showers in the morning. At least you have shaved your head. Im very tempted to do that since my situation here in Kampala isnt any better than yours when it comes to the lack of any water. all the best,

From Cindy on Jun 5th, 2008

hahaha hilarious! those bucket showers are probably better than any morning caffeine to wake up...enjoy India!

From beely on Jun 6th, 2008

your situation with ana is similar to mine and adnan's - i'm chinese, adnan is pakistani, and we are in HK! i'm not sure if we get ripped off because of him, but he sure attracts attention!

From megan ck on Jul 3rd, 2008

In Guatemala, I've decided that the bucket system...espcially the "warm up the bucket first system", is far superieror to the freezing cold-but-western-looking- shower system. Maybe if you heated the bucket water first you would be more comfortable. (although less environmentally sound).