Saturday, July 31, 2010

Namaste Hindustan

Ok ; don’t sigh at the completely unimaginative title – after Zaijian Zhongguo, it's inevitable that it has to be Namaste Hindustan. The title means Hello India, in Hindi.

Just as leaving a place is a cauldron of emotions, arriving at another, is equally so. Even if, and probably especially if, it's your home. Things are familiar. You know people. And yet it is an unsettling feeling. Things have changed. Some of your favourite places are gone. Some of the people you know have moved on. You are suddenly an outsider coming in, rather than an insider giving a knowing smile at the new arrivals.

As always, in such moves, it’s the small things that catch the eye. In the first few days back in Bangalore, these are what have really struck me
  • Top of the list has to be reading a newspaper with the morning cuppa. A real newspaper. I almost lovingly caressed it on the first day ! I am in the camp which is firmly of the opinion that “The Hindu” (a longstanding newspaper in India) with filter coffee is the only civilized way to start the day.
  • Switching on the TV ! Hooray. Only somebody who has been subject to CCTV (China’s television) for three years can understand this. Having said that, it really struck me how appalling the Indian news channels have become. Shrill and pathetic dredging of controversies all in the name of chasing eyeballs. Ugh !
  • Walking into a place to eat and not worrying about vegetarianism. Not having to explain that you don’t eat meat and getting blank looks.
  • Forgetting to tip. In China you don’t tip anywhere. In India you tip before you open your mouth. Having been spoiled in China, I have merrily been forgetting to tip and I am sure I have been subject to the finest collection of curses behind my back.
  • Surprisingly, the confusion between right hand drive and left hand drive. I am still walking around to the wrong side of the car !
  • Feeling scared of prices, because the Indian rupee is valued lower and hence you pay hundreds of it for anything. Used to paying tens of RMB, it's all feeling “expensive”. Illogical, I know. My irrational solving of the irrational thought is to pay by credit card, so I don’t feel the notes slipping by !!
  • The phone goes tring tring. I get a Hello instead of a WAI !!
  • Writing a cheque ! There are no cheques in China. Somehow the old world cheque seems comfortingly familiar.
  • Getting junk SMSs which I can actually read !! China does not have a “Do not Call” policy, so on an average you get one junk SMS every 5 minutes. I couldn’t read it, of course, so I must have deleted a zillion messages without reading (tip to mobile phone makers – one touch deleting of SMSs would be a great functionality). Here I get junk SMSs every 5 minutes all right, but I can read the blessed thing.
But above all, there is the feeling of opening Blogger without hunting through interminable proxies. The feeling of actually writing the post on the Blogger editor itself. The feeling of playing around with the Blogger features, limited as they are. I never thought I would extol the virtues of Blogger, which is just an average blogging platform, but ......

Is good to be back home.