Some cultural snippets:
For any of you who have ever spent time in a large Asian city, you know how congested and polluted they are. I hereby nominate Hyderabad for first prize in traffic congestion (my comparison cities are New Delhi, Bombay, Agra, Port-au-prince). Imagine Boston at its very worst rush hour. that is what the NON-RUSH hour times are like. now imagine four rush hours each day (yes, morning, noon, school release, and evening) where the congestion doubles and you cannot breathe from the pollution. that is Hyderabad!
On crossing the street:
Truly the most dangerous endeavor here is crossing a street. no streetlights, no crosswalks, and no right of way of the pedestrian. the pedestrian is forced to wander out in the traffic and dodge and weave until arriving on the other side. I do not have the stomach for this, so the solution I’ve developed is to look for a competent looking Indian human who is preparing to cross. I rush over and sidle right up next to him or her and stick like a burdock until safely across.
In the news lately:
The big flap in the Indian papers just now is that there was a huge confidence/no confidence vote in parliament on monday, the left leaning towards no confidence, spurred on by the looming Indo-American nuclear deal. The right won handily with a vote of confidence, so the pm is victorious amidst howls of rage all around about foul and corruption. many mp’s were bribed to vote against the whip, and a number of these were caught and thrown out of their party. the indians I have spoken with said politics like this are very common, so this is business as usual here, but indians are disgusted with the corruption.
I tried pan – ladies’ pan is sweet – I wanted to like it, truly I did, but the jolt of rose perfume was so unexpected it caught me by surprise, and you have to bundle the whole leaf around the whole wad and stuff it all in your mouth at once, and really, all opinions to the contrary notwithstanding, I don’t really have a big enough mouth to accomplish this!
Here is a custom I have really warmed up to: drinking hot tea when it is 90+ degrees outside. The tea is milky and sweet, and curiously refreshing, even when you are standing outside in the sweltering heat.
I am reading a biography of Gandhi (actually not badly written, by Louis Fischer in 1951) and thought this an interesting fact:
Gandhi went to South Africa to practice law and said to his wife ‘I am just coming,’ meaning to return to India in one year’s time. after his year was up, he bought his ticket home and the day before he was supposed to leave he read in the newspaper that the South African government was proposing to take away many rights of indians in s.a. gandhi said to his friends, you have to fight against this, and they said, we’re not as forceful as you are, we need you, so Gandhi stayed 20 years. Wonder what his wife thought…
I have had two Indians in the last two days tell me that I am too polite. Indians see it as a weakness and take advantage of it. come to think of it, so have americans, on many occasions.
In the spirit of self-improvement, I have resolved to start being rude every chance I get. It’s very refreshing – y’all who have my same problem should try it out some time. I barked at a bunch of people today, and it was not only miraculously effective, it really cleared my sinuses. I highly recommend it.