Things I was really worried about when I decided to take Yaya to India was our safety and falling ill. When I left India in 1994, even walking on MG road in Bangalore, men bumped in to me deliberately and copped a feel. Yaya has a personal bubble around her and hates anyone encroaching her private space and I was worried how she would cope in India. It was surprising that no one bumped in to us, no one stared at our boobs or attempted to strip our clothes with their eyes. I felt pretty safe walking in the streets.

What bothered me the most was a lack of proper phone connection. Before leaving Australia, I had asked a friend a to get me a phone number.  Somehow, with the Indian number, I couldn’t send any txt to my children in Australia and then the number suddenly stopped working on day 2. I couldn’t get it fixed. Then on the third day, it started working, but this time, it started sending me a message every nano second informing me ” you have used ‘x’ mb of your data” or ” you have this much of credit” It reached a stage, I switched off the phone.

I was going on a date to Hard Rock café in Bangalore. At 5 pm, I asked the hotel reception to book me a cab for 7.30 pm. At 6, they called me to say, I have to do it by myself and they connected me to ‘for sure cab’. They said they will send a cab FOR SURE at 7.30 pm. About 7:20, the cab driver calls me up for direction to my hotel. I have been in Bangalore for a day by then and there is no way I could give the direction. ( those who know me would say, even if I stayed in Bangalore for a decade, they will still not ask me directions, my friends here are still looking for a restaurant in Oxley where I organized a get together and the actual place is in Graceville, two different suburbs 20 km apart)  Besides, isn’t the driver supposed to know where he is going? I gave the driver the hotel number and asked him to get the direction from them. 7;30, he calls again asking for direction. I had a friend with me at that time and she tried to give him the direction. Whatever landmark she said, the cabbie had no idea. By 8 pm my date has already been waiting for me at Hard rock café for 30 minutes. I am pedantic when it comes to keeping time and I was going crazy. At 8:40, the cab finally arrives. I asked him to take me to Hard rock café, near LIC building on St. Marks road and he asked ” route gothakitha?” I contemplated strangling the driver before I got out of the cab. I was in no mood to chodichu chodichu povam 🙂 I called the cab company and gave them an earful, they promised to send me a replacement cab within 10 minutes. After 20 minutes of waiting, they let me know that the cab they were meant to send had a breakdown. I had no choice, but to take an Auto, who charged me 120 RS for a 6 km ride and my date waited more than 2 hours for me. Fortunately he is a great guy and I had an awesome time. 🙂

I also took plenty of cold showers. I kept forgetting to turn on the water heater and even when I remembered, most places had the hot water tap on the right. ( any plumber will tell you cold on the right and hot on the left ) so I could never get it to work and ended up taking a cold showers.

So what worked? India is incredible. There is so much that works. I  met a lovely family in the train who upon noticing that I didn’t order dinner ( I was scared of getting food poisoning, so was planning to eat biscuits for dinner) insisted that Yaya and I share their dinner. A stranger found a hotel for me to stay because my phone wasn’t working. A hotel security guard walked with me to the auto stand early morning because he didn’t want Yaya and I to walk alone. A blog reader helped me get a train ticket and paid for it, even though she has never seen me and only knew me through the blog.

And for the first time, I was sad to leave India. I came home and told my children, I think I want to visit India more often. They were stunned.

11 thoughts on “India

  1. 🙂 Nice experiences. Next time try getting a phone on your own!! That is some experience. When I went to get one, they told me the requirement one at a time and I had to make many trips. But strangers did lend me their phones when mine was not working. I also realized that a SIM purchased from Pune, would not be recharged in Calicut. Rickshaws are also way reliable than cabs :), but you need a good cleanser on hand to take the soot off. There were times when i felt that I could run faster than the rick!
    Any pics from the trip?

    • MS: No Pics. I rarely take Photos and the ones Yaya took, she can’t publish till her project is submitted and evaluated.

  2. New phone connections are subject to DOT approval. Thus, it is common for the phone to work for the initial 1-2 days and then stop. In theory, the service provider is supposed to do an address verification before providing the service. Makes it difficult for foreigners on short visits.
    Internet services are even worse, as it is mostly 2G and erratic/slow. 3G services , though available, are under some court decision; and service providers have been instructed to NOT provide new connections.
    Glad that you found India a little more palatable; a lot of youngsters are more aware of things and more civil. There are problems everywhere and caution is always sensible.

  3. The cabbie in the dark sounds familiar. When my husband was in Chennai, the same exact thing happened. He said the guy was totally lost and didn’t know a thing about how to get to a place.
    He also gave an earful to the company, but sab chalta hai, there.
    Very interesting read.
    Yes, there is always help, and very nice to know that you didn’t get your boobs pinched or or butt fondled in B’lore. Always happened to me always.
    Hated that and still have a fear of Majestic circle.
    take care,

    • Mona: I carried our sleeping bags with us because I was so worried that Yaya will get fondled in the train.. It was really surprising that no one did anything inappropriate.

  4. I’m just back from India. I was in Kerala all the time (3 weeks). Granted, I was irritated by many of the ‘inconveniences,’ especially the personal invasion of body space. Of course, being a man I guess, I haven’t been groped but I find that people get extremely close to you wherever you are, in line ups, in stores, everywhere. In the sweltering heat this can be intolerable. Inequalities exist in all aspects of life – and it is so obvious. The well-heeled or connected run roughshod over everyone and everything else. It can be a little grubby too. Its fascinating that I was part of this milieu, admittedly quite a few years ago, and I didn’t think much of it. Now experiencing it as a tourist/ non-resident, I look at it from a totally new perspective.

    In spite of all this, there is an affinity, a pull at the heartstrings that this country has for me. It is my homeland. I have had the opportunity to meet people in India who think like me, who have similar desires and feelings, who share this weird juxtaposition of humour and language. In parts, I feel that I am perceived as an outsider but I also see so many things in common. India/ Indians do welcome you. But at the same time they can be as bigoted as anyone else. Diversity? Sure. More than it can be experienced in a lifetime. And of course, there is the tremendous growth that the country is experiencing. People spending lavishly, eating out, shopping…. I couldn’t keep up 🙂

    I don’t know whether I could live there!

    • Shibu: I think what I missed the most when I was in India was my independence. Here, everything is systematic and I can do everything by myself. As Yaya and I were backpacking, we didn’t carry a lot of clothes and needed to do laundry. Outside India, you look for the nearest Laundromat, spend 2 hours and your clothes are clean and dry. It was such a hassle to get clothes washed in Bangalore.
      And No, there is no way I will give up the life that I have here and move to India. ( Malaysia, yes, but not India)

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