Random thoughts, oddnesses, and observations
Motorcycles – I saw a family of four on one yesterday, no helmets. Check out this clip of a fellow riding a motorbike, no hands, talking on his cell phone, in Delhi.
Men holding hands in Priyadarshini Park (a huge family park and athletic facility on the Cumballa sea front) – I’ve seen this everywhere, and take it to be a straight-man phenomenon?
Mothballs as air fresheners – in the sinks of the high-end Globus washroom, in linen closets so the scent of camphor eases your journey into sleep
The head wiggle – Ask someone a question, and he or she may move their head side to side in a non-committal-looking way. I’m trying figure out the origins of this, and what it means, but I’m guessing it’s something like “maybe yes, maybe no”?
Watchmen – every residental building I’ve been to has one. Their job is to sit, and watch the comings and goings of a building, its tenants, and their visitors. What stories they could tell!
Store minders – here in Breach Candy, I walked to the local shack to buy tea and beer. The father offered to deliver a case to my uncle’s house. Which building are you in, he asked. Pushpa Milan, I said. Fifth floor, he asked. Er, yes, I said. Suite 55? he asked. Er, yes, I said. How did her know?! Like the watchman, everyone in the neighbourhood knows what’s going on.
Cow dung floors – not here, but uncle Aloysius. told me the story of a place in the country where the most hygenic way to prevent pests in the is to line the floor with dried cow dung. A good sleeping surface too, he pointed out.
W.I.T. jam – Women’s India Trust is a collective that makes pure, inexpensive products such as grapefruit marmalade. I’d like to learn more about them, but for now, here’s their web site.
Tower of Silence or cell phone tower? – I walked Mumbai’s Hanging Garden looking for the tower, but only caught side of a tall metal structure with guy wires. How do they get the deceased up there without a ladder, I asked myself in a moment of blondeness.
Goods Carrier, Horn OK Please – why do commercial vehicles have this message on their back? It’s tradition, says uncle
Cooking in mineral oil – uncle also tells me that some food outlets have maximized profits by adding mineral oil to their vats. I’d be interested to know how bad this is for you.
Cool yoga – it’s the new Hot! I saw a sign for this near Kemp’s Corners. How long before westerners catch onto this newest phenomenon out of steamy India?!
Hinglish – “Once perceived as the language of the downmarket, Hindi has become the language of the new cool,” reports Brunch, the Hindustan Times Sunday Magazine. This is a VERY big deal, as “there is no market a big as the Hindi heartland, and when a market is big, it demands its own language.” In other words, as mainstream advertising starts including Hindi language in its messages, it’s big business.
Blonde-free zone – Speaking of blondes, there ain’t none. This leads to a whole other aesthetic of beauty, and OMG the way women carry themselves in their silks and saris is stunning. I am awed by it, and wonder how North America could get so caught up in the appeal of tawdry, bimbo bleach-blondes.
Hercules bike – considered a “utility vehicle”, the archetypal Indian bicycle does not come in a ladies’ model because… ladies don’t ride them to deliver blocks of ice, flats of eggs or cans of milk. I want one.
Road builders – everyone works, and that includes elderly ladies who pat soft cement into place with their feet in roadworks, while their grandchildren play in the rubble metres away from Mumbai traffic.
Golden labs as status dogs – the gentle canine is the dog-of-choice for the upperclass. I frequently see their walkers lead them across six lanes of bustling Mumbai traffic.
Win-win situation – At the NGMA modern art gallery, Indians pay 10 rupees and foreigners pay 150 to enter. I put a Rs 50 note in front of the ticket taker and said, I’m Half Indian. He looked at me, took the note, and gave me an admission ticket. It’s only once I got inside that I looked at it and noticed he’d charged me the Indian rate. He gained Rs40, and I saved 140! I like that.
Hot laptop – I don’t know if it’s the local climate (30 degree Celsius), the current adaptor, or my aging laptop, but once I’ve had it on for an hour or so, you could fry an egg on its underside. To compensate, I take the wire grille from the toaster oven (it’s got little legs that raise it up), rest the Presario on it and voila – low-tech cooling system
My grandmother’s brother’s son – (aka “Uncle Aloysius”) who encouraged me to come to India in the first place and has been an absolute marvel. I feel like family, thank you.