Friday, January 30, 2009

A big change

I received a phone call yesterday that I was getting a roommate, a guy, from the United States, on SUNDAY!

I always knew this was a possibility, but I never really thought about it. Ugh. Talk about a curve ball. I mean I'm given 4 days notice, have to move my internet connection to my bedroom and buy a desk now. I haven't had a roommate since University, well, I guess you can count my ex-boyfriend whom I lived with 5 years. Sometimes it felt like he WAS a roommate.
I just hope this guy is nice, clean and somewhat cool.

Stay tuned...... Right now I'm busy moving my things around, cleaning and preparing for this guy to come. I don't even know his name!!!

On the bright side, it's never a bad thing to meet new people and expats. I'm keeping an open mind about this one. For now anyway.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Nampally exhibition

On Monday I went to this gigantic exhibition that is held only once a year with a few of my girlfriends. They include Shae, her cousin Rachel whom she brought back from the United States to spend 3 months with her, and Chunny, and American Indian who did her College over in India and decided to stay and work here.
The exhibition are vendors from all over India and other parts of the world. Many many of them from Kashmir, which mean gorgeous cashmere pashmina's, stoles and scarves for very cheap prices. But you have to know how to bargain!
There were food vendors, circus rides, and so many things to buy. I bought a pashmina scarf, a pair of sandals, some saffron honey, black bangles and some mango jelly all for under $13, and apparently i could have still gotten it cheaper. The exhibition will be around until mid-Feb so i hope to go back.

We had a fun day getting stared at (4 western girls, 2 of which are over 5 feet 8 inches tall and blond), but it doesn't really bother us much anymore. We also had some ice cream and chat (which is pronounced kind of like chart but with a silent r). This is Indian snack food or vendor food originating in Rajastan (the royal part of India) and it's really hard to describe. My favourite is Dahi Papri (dahi meaning yogurt), it's crumpled up crusts of samosas or dried roti (without the filling), then layered with chick pea curry,then a bunch of spices, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, then layered with sweetened yogurt, and tamarind sauce then topped with red onions and a kind of cracker. I love this stuff, and it's so cheap, like about 30 cents a plate.
I added a few links for you to see the many variations of chats. Another popular one is pani puri (which means water and a kind of Indian donut/pastry). At first I thought it was so weird to poke a hole in my food (a pastry kind of thing), put water in it with onions and eat it. But it's delicious! Here are some more pictures of Pani Puri. The flavoured water is put inside the puri which already hold some chick peas and onions, and you eat it like that. It's addicting and so cheap!! i think I'm going to get some chat tonight at work at the chat vendor and drink some freshly squeezed sweet lime juice from the fresh fruit vendor!

Rachel, just arrived 3 days earlier from the U.S

Chunny enjoying her chat

Me and my plate of dahi papri

A train ride through the exhibition

So many people

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm still alive

Just wanted to post an update to let everyone know I am indeed still alive and kicking, I haven't posted much lately because when I'm not working, the last thing i want to do is be typing on my computer, since I'm on it a lot at work.

I've been working 10-12 hour days, doing a lot of training, and just preparing for 2009 with the managers. With the recession 2009 is going to be an interesting year all over the world. I hope with Obama coming into office today will be the start of some positive change.

It's funny but last time Clinton took office after Bush senior there was a war (Desert Storm) and an economy crunch, and now with Obama taking over from Bush junior, there is a war (Iraq and Afghanistan) and a huge recession with comparisons of the Great Depression of the 1930's. Hmmm, coincidence???? No such thing as coincidences and as Muscles said, God doesn't play with dice. Hopefully there are no more Bush's to take over in 4 or 8 years, because I personally have enough of the Bush family to last a lifetime!

AS for weather, well you'd think that the very cold weather patterns in Canada and northern USA would not affect my life in India, but it does. We've been so busy at the auto club arranging jump starts for customers and I've been trying to get the agents to understand what it feels like to be a Popsicle. Most of the them have never seen snow (unless they live in the north in the hill stations), so trying to empathize with a customer stuck in -25 temperatures has been a challenge.
The weather here has been amazing, it's sunny with blue skies every day and gets to about 27-30 degrees and cols off to a comfortable 16-20 in the evening. Winter in Hyderabad is amazing, I never use my air conditioning (I haven't really since July-August) and I rarely even need a fan, except to sleep cause there are roosters and other noises. I've become so adjusted to the heat and it's nice. I mean at home in 30 degrees people have their AC full blast. I mean when I go out on Saturday afternoons, it's 30 degrees and I'm usually wearing jeans and a shirt with a light sweater over top. At home I'd be in shorts and a tank top.... funny how these things change.

And on that note, I have to go and get ready for another 10 hour day at the office, it sounds like I am complaining, but I do really like my job. I never wake thinking, oh God I have to work today (OK, maybe Mondays but everyone does that). In Canada i did that every single day, and even had insomnia because I disliked my job so much.
Thankfully, I sleep like a baby here!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Answers to some of the comments

I just thought I'd respond to some of the comments of the last post i wrote. There were a lot of them so I thought I should address them.

First, I love that things are different here, and just because they are different does not make it wrong. I totally know that. But i also know that many people , unless they travel to India, will never know these customs (bizarre, or interesting) and so I thought I'd shed some light on the subject. I was in no way being disrespectful of their customs.

Saying that, here is some answers to your questions:

  • The family of four on the scooter (yes I knew my picture was a scooter). I've seen families of 4 on both motorcycles and scooters. I own a scooter but I've only ever had one person at the back. Balancing is not easy!! Yes, it is because people can't afford cars. There are laws in India which say you can't have more than 2 people on a bike, but a 50 rupee note will get you out of that jam.
  • The black eyeliner on babies seems to be only a Hindu custom. My boyfriend is Muslim and he tells me they don't do that, and i have many christian friends and they tell me they don't put eyeliner on babies either. So it would seem to be a Hindu custom. Yes, the kohl, or kajal is made with different stuff than in the west. But I did find out that kohl is applied to Hindu newborn baby's eyes as a way to prevent being "cursed by an evil eye", and some believe it strengthens the baby's eyes.
  • The head shaving thing seems to be more of an aesthetic thing with Indians than a custom or prevention of lice. Although lice prevention would make sense too. People here believe that it will result in thick lustrous hair.
  • The arranged marriages here are a lot like, but i have also met many women who did not have a choice and met their husband on the day they got married. My friend Labels is in the process of choosing her spouse, and she has all the power in her hands to say yes or no. So women/men have more choices than others. It will all depend on the family.
  • It very well might be Hyderabad, but it is extremely hard to find a place here if you are single. I lived in a guesthouse and then with a friend before finally moving. My company had a rough time finding me housing. It took almost 2 months!!
I'll have a part 2 of the strange, and interesting facts about India coming up later this week!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some truly bizaare and interesting things I've encountered here

I'm not trying to put down the Indian culture or anything like that, but some things I have come across has either been interesting (in a good or huh? kind of way) or just downright bizarre. You be the judge. I've tried to attach pictures of each interesting and bizarre event, so just click the highlighted link.
  1. I've seen families of 4 on a motorcycle, using it like a mini-van or a luxury car. A small child in front, second child behind Dad and mom sitting sideways at the back. In Canada, a child has to be in a car seat until they are like 70 pounds. Quite the dichotomy I must say! Now this isn't even something I see some of the time. I see this everyday, it's a normal everyday occurrence, it makes you feel kind of petty for wanting to update your small sedan for a large SUV just to fit your 2 children, when here, they are riding like this, because this is what they can afford.
  2. It's only necessary for the driver to wear a helmet. See the link in the picture above to prove my point. I mean what's up with that? As long as the driver is safe, who cares about the passenger(s), right? India really needs to re-evaluate this law.
  3. In the Hindu religion mother's line their baby's eyes with kajal or kohl. I find it looks bizarre and wouldn't this be bad for a young child's eyes? So many times I go to coo at a small baby only to find their eyes lined with thick black kohl, it is actually looks freaky.
  4. It is believed and it is custom that before a child turns one their head is shaved. This is regardless of religion, because it is not a religious custom, it is because it is thought here that if you shave the child's head their hair will grow to be thick and beautiful. This is done to both male and female babies. I used to wonder why i saw lots of young children running around with bald heads. Now I know. I have very thick curly hair, and I wonder what it would look like if my Mom had decided to shave it. it's actually scary to think about it. HAHA.
  5. I see men holding hands all the time walking down the street. And sometimes they are actually holding pinky's. These men are not gay. They just don't have any issues with affection towards other men. Can you imagine two straight men holding hands just because they are friends in Canada? Strange isn't it? Any straight man would freak out if another man tried to hold his hand. Here it isn't looked at as anything besides being friendly (but a man and woman holding hands here gets a lot of looks) !!! Muscles does not hold his male friends hands, and is it wrong if I am actually happy with that? HAHA.
  6. Women have 2 ways they wear their hair here. Long and longer. And most of the time it is in a braid down their back. I think Indian women are gorgeous, but I also think their hair could use some style. Indian hair is some of the most gorgeous hair I've ever seen, long, thick, black, but when it has no style it just looks unhealthy. Women with short hair are considered less attractive and un-sexy or androgynous, case in point, my friend Paro wears her hair short, (check out my b-day pics to jog your memory) and she is always described to me by other friends as the boyish looking girl. She is beautiful and not boyish at all!!
  7. It is very difficult for bachelors (unmarried women or men) to find a place to live in India. There is a mis-conception here that if you are single you are, less responsible, a party animal, and promiscuous. My one friend (an Indian American) was looking for a place to live and she was told by the landlord, why are you single, why don't you just get married? She is 21 years old. She was like, what does that have to do with me wanting to rent this place?? I even had this discussion with Muscles, because in Islam it states that being married makes men more responsible. I'm sure to some extent that is true, you do have more responsibilities. But I have met many married men, who are not responsible, and married women as well, but we were speaking about men. I firmly believe if you are a responsible person in general then marriage shouldn't make you more or less that way, you'll do the right thing no matter what.
  8. The biggest thing I have a hard time wrapping my brain around is arranged marriage. I mean for the most part it works here, but i think that will change in 20 years as women become more educated and want to wait until later in life to get married. Also if you are over the age of 25 or 26 and not married you are considered an old maid. But my friend Labels wants an arranged marriage, all her siblings had love marriages but she, as the youngest of 4 children, wants to give her parents the gift of choosing her husband. So here is a conversation I had with her yesterday:
Labels: So I had 2 proposals today?
Me: Really, from where?
Labels:Well one is from an Indian, from the United States
Me: Wow, so tell me about him? What do you know?
Labels: Well, he makes 3 lakhs a month and works for Intel
Me: Ok, and...?
Labels: He has his green card.
Me: OK, but what about him? Have you seen a picture? What are his hobbies? Is he nice?
Labels: Nope, i haven't. Not sure. But what is 3 lakhs in dollars? Is that a good amount?
Me: well, yes, that's about $6000 USD give or take.
Labels: is that before or after taxes?
Me: I have no idea....but shouldn't you be wondering about how he'll treat you?
Labels: I mean, I'm sure I'll meet him and get a final say, but it's more important if he can take care of me and provide for our family.
Me: (telling myself to keep my mouth shut), Oh, OK, well don't jump into anything too soon. Do you think you're mom will let me have a crack at this guy before you decide? I worry about you.....

So yes, I respect the culture here, but that doesn't mean it isn't difficult, and if you know me, you'd know how opinionated I am. Before I left my mom gave me this advice, she said "Shelley, you keep your mouth shut over there, you never know what kind of trouble you'll get yourself into." HAHA. She knows me too well.

I want your thoughts on what I have just written? What do you think? Weird, bizarre or interesting? I love being in a different culture and learning new things, but admittedly some things are difficult to wrap your brain around. Just because I wouldn't do or follow most of these customs doesn't mean it doesn't work here. That's what makes the world so interesting, it would be a boring world if everyone looked the same and followed the same culture and traditions!