India Culture Review
Chapter 1 :: My Take
A few opinions I had about Indian people before I came here: Smart, ambitious, opinionated, hard working. All still seem true😊 I will add: nice and likes America.
The friends I have met in the states who were born in India are all successful… a lot of engineers😊 And a few visionary/authors – like Deepak Chopra. Wait, he’s not my friend… I just wish he was. Anyway, I’ve always thought so much of the people I know who have immigrated, being able to go to a new country, do University study in a secondary language, a lot do post-grad degrees, then get jobs and are successful at their work… I recognize how amazing that is. How many Americans can’t even do half of that, in their native country, in their first language… Amazing.
It’s the same for all immigrants, but I guess I just have more personal experience with people from India. They seem to be the most ambitious people in the world. A few years ago, when I had a job as a manager at a manufacturing company, my friend who worked there as an engineer BERATED me because I chose an Art, Philosophy & Literature major in college. As he said, “You need to be engineer, doctor, or something good where you make the most money!” It’s funny, of course not true, and comparison isn’t a good thing… but I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to want to be the best and expect others to want to be the best.
And that leads into being opinionated.
Lesson 1 : Expect to be given advice without eliciting it.
I’ve had some very forward people give me advice when I wasn’t at all seeking it. I had noticed this before (see example above), and with total complete strangers, it has happened here a handful of times. Grin and bear it.
And, people are really nice. So many have randomly helped me, especially with bus logistics. Super nice😍
Chapter 2 :: Cultural Show
Because you can’t talk about culture without a cultural show. The one I went to was in Munnar. The first part was a Kathakali show… elaborate costumes, music, some strange dramatic acting, a little dance…
The second show was Kalaripayattu, which is a martial artform that was founded a gazillion years ago in Kerala, and might have been the basis of what we all recognize today as Chinese martial arts. To me it looked like part fighting + part weaponry + part yoga + part gymnastics + part fire dancer + and part NFL combine…
Lesson 2 : If you watch a Kalaripayattu show, you will be scared for the performers, and you will also love it. This shit was awesome.
Chapter 3 :: Wildlife
Lesson 3 : Never trust a monkey. It’s like having a distant cousin that you think you might have to be friends with just because way, wayyy back somewhere, your people were related. It don’t matter. Distant cousins are not to be trusted (or married, btw). Neither are monkeys.
Why do I say this? A monkey mugged me. I guess bad things happen in India when you’re on a local bus, traveling through Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, and you get stopped at a checkpoint.
I was reaching into my backpack that was on the floor in front of me to get something, and I heard the little girl next to me yell, “Mama!!” So I looked over and she was leaning away from me with terror in her eyes. When I looked ahead, Mr. Monkey was on the seatback in front of me, staring at the newspaper I was holding in my hand. The newspaper was wrapped around two oranges. I leaned away because I was scared, and at the same time, he grabbed the newspaper out of my hand! Then I yelled, “Take it!” And he dropped the oranges on accident (what a lousy thief to drop the goods).
Then the park ranger guy came over and was trying to hit the assailant with a stick, but he hissed and tried to bite at him! He’s still right in front of my face on the back of the seat! HUGE, sharp TEETH.
So then the wanna-be-bandit went out the window to the top of the bus and came back a minute later and was right behind me, on my seatback! At this point, the girl next to me started crying. Have you ever been in an unfamiliar place, and you’re not sure if something is ‘normal’ or not, so you look to the local people to decide whether to freak-out or to play it cool? Well that’s what happened with me during this, and when the little girl started crying, I wanted to start crying too!
Then two more park rangers got on the bus with sticks, and he jumped down, and they let the bus go through the checkpoint.
But today I saw a dead monkey on the road, roadkill… looked about the same size… maybe Mr. Monkey Cat Burglar got his comeuppance.
Chapter 4 :: Food
Lesson 4 : When an Indian person says, “Not spicy”, it means it is the spiciest I can stand it without choking to death. Every. Time.
But, ahhhh, the food here is sooooo good…
Chapter 5 :: Hereto, A Menagerie
Lesson 5 : Mustache game be strong in India.
What do you think this is? Hairclub for men ad? Mustache-enhancer product billboard? No. Members of the Indian National Trade Union Congress. And what do they all have in common? Fat. (Wrong, because one of them isn’t fat.) THEY ALL HAVE A MUSTACHE. If you live in India, you better bring a strong mustache game if you want to fit in or, especially, be a man politician.
Lesson 6 : Expect India customs / security in airports to ask for weird stuff.
Mustache Security Guy: “What country were you in before India?”
Me: “Sri Lanka.”
MSG: “Let me see the boarding pass you used when you flew INTO Sri Lanka.”
Me: “Whaaaat?! That was three weeks ago. I don’t have it.”
MSG: “Okay, proceed on through.”
Are they just messing with me, or do they really need this stuff? I may never know. But I might have to rent a storage unit in Mumbai to file away all of the documents the Mustache Security Guy wants me to produce.
Lesson 7 : Bollywood is awesome.
The people here are huge fans, they follow the actors/celebrities, they get excited about new movies coming out… I don’t doubt that the movies are better than a lot of what is produced in LA these days. I want to meet Salman Khan. Here is an ad I’m seeing everywhere – must be the next big movie coming out…
Lesson 8 : You might love the accent.
Tied with Trinidad, it’s my favorite accent. Sounds lovely.
Lesson 9 : Hotel doormen are not called “Lobby Boy” just because you saw it in a Wes Anderson movie.
Lesson 10: The head bobble is really cute AND addictive.
I might, unknowingly, be doing it regularly by the time I leave here.
Next up: Ooty and a Toy Train