My Hindustani Experience 1.1

Should I go by days or moments?


First, transport! For the complete Indian experience, one should take the taxi:

Didn’t share one with a dog, though. Must say that the stray/street dogs I saw all looked quite happy. Even the one half- stained a disturbing dark grey by a ditch.

One should also take the bus:

Didn’t share one with SRK either …! (Oh boy, the day we arrived was the day his Kaun Banega Crorepati hit the tube, woohoo! Didn’t understand what he was saying exactly, but was roundly entertained nonetheless.) Getting on was okay, but going back in the evening was quite an adventure! There were so many people on the bus that alighting was akin to being squeezed out like toothpaste. Splouich! First time that happened, we spilled right onto an expressway, which we then proceeded to jaywalk across. I got to be quite jaded about jaywalking, let’s just say.

One should definitely take a domestic flight:

Here are some of the lovely folks who made the trip wonderful and gave me and MV a family away from the familiar. V Uncle, P Aunty and one of their delightful progeny, hee hee. We’re taking a break while the plane’s stopping over in Rajpur (I think!) en route to Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa.

The cap’n on this flight was rather loquacious, giving all sorts of info like the wind speed velocity of sparrows in the region … or something along those lines. Quite enlightening, really! On both domestic flights I took, the landing was hair-raising — thought the plane was gonna flip over already.

Domestic flight security could not have been more thorough — layers of checks and cross-checks, and even handbags were tagged to ascertain their origins and destinations. And guess what — I’d unwittingly brought along a utility knife that Changi security didn’t (bother to?) pick up, but Mumbai security did!

The pav bhaji on Indian Airlines was great! Though I went veg for two weeks, didn’t feel deprivation of any sort, and am only adding seafood to the palate now. Am challenging myself at this point, maybe. Family’s been supportive too. But the tum’s not been feeling 100% of late — could be that the sudden switch to South Indian from North was too drastic for me. Heck, I even went for full-on Onion Dosa treatment. Think it was overloading at that waystation in Chennai that did me in … Overeating can be a killer.

Last but certainly not least (I didn’t take the train, that’s the only thing!), when in India, one should go for a spin in an Ambassador:

These iconic cars are built like brick houses, I’m told, though age and lack of airbags can be a real drag. Top officials tend to travel in them, though, with a wee red strobe light on top to distinguish ’em. Here I am whizzing (as fast as one can ‘whiz’) through the streets of Cuttack while MN, VV, V Uncle and a pretty old coz of MN try to get the marriage certified. I’m not allowed to post any wedding pics till MN does the honours! Till then, you can amuse yourself with the interior of an Ambassador:

Mmm, Cuttack. Was told that “it simply refuses to change”. In many ways, I’m reminded of Sitiawan, my mom’s hometown — which has changed somewhat, but inherently remains the same somehow. Not the place for youngsters with bigger dreams, but certainly a place for them to cool their toes in and just be with family. Try as one might to argue for or against change, I guess the question of habitat really does boil down to where you could envision yourself spending a year in. MN has smart cozzes.

Speaking of change, watched Half Nelson today, which can be pretty mindboggling if one expects another Dead Poets’ Society. It’s an emphatic not! Think of it in terms of the dialectics of history that the teacher expounds on — him and his student are the opposing forces that culminate in a turning point leading to a spiral of change — a new day, a second chance to be grabbed. I wouldn’t have thought of this, though, if I hadn’t been asked what the heck the movie meant. I guess trying to instruct leads to learning at some level!

Anyway, here’s a snapshot of another change, quite possibly due to global warming:

To my untutored eyes, it looked as though a once mighty river had receded to a moderate one. Cattle, people and machinery trudged across the relative vastness of its sandy banks towards all that was left. Hope this is just pessimism induced by a season.

And that’s all I have for you today.


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