Category Archives: hindi

The Flower Walla………….

I know I have talked about flowers on this blog. And I know I have shared lots of pictures of flowers with you. But I don’t think I have given you the skinny on the flower walla. The word walla means vendor. The flower walla sells flowers. The broom walla sells brooms. The sweeper walla sweeps the street. So now you speak a little bit of Hindi. You are very welcome. 😉

Every neighborhood seems to have at least one flower walla. This guy is in Vasant Vihar.

And these are some of his flowers.

and some more…

and some more…..

and then some more……

I don’t know why I was surprised to find so many “American” flowers in India – and by that I mean flowers that I know and love in the U.S. I am not sure what I expected – maybe tumble weeds or cactus – I have no idea. But just so you know, they have palm trees and coconut trees here too. Shocking? I know. Next thing you know they’ll have roses…….uh-oh….. it is a small world after all.

But seriously, I know I am just a country mouse on this grand big city adventure – but I did not know that flowers were universal. 😉 These flowers were not from the vendor in Vasant Vihar but I just bet he knows a guy who could easily get you these tomorrow.

And this bunch of flowers from these guys was…….wait for it…

a whopping 200 rupees or about $4 U.S. dollars.

And yep, I probably overpaid.
Of course, they don’t last long and you
simply must change the water everyday
or your house will smell like really, really old man teeth.
And you might get a few gnats if you aren’t careful –
I always shake the flowers a little to make sure nothing flies out.
But these are certainly worth (more than) the asking price!
As we like to say at A Reason To Write – they are sufficient. 😉

Hin-du-stan v. Pak-i-stan…………

Every night right outside of Amritsar in India and Lahore in Pakistan, there is a border closing ceremony between the two countries – India and Pakistan. It is called the Wagah Border Retreat Ceremony. The point of the ceremony  is to lower the flags of the two nations and officially close the border for the night.

In 1947, the village that existed at this point where the Radcliffe Line was drawn became split between India and Pakistan and it remains the only place to cross the border by road between the two countries.

The best way to describe the ceremony is kind of, sort of like a U.S. college football game. Kind of. Sort of. There are dancers instead of cheerleaders and there are soldiers instead of players. And, instead of a ball, they have guns and each soldier gets his own gun – so no balls, but lots of guns. See what I mean – kind of, sort of but not exactly? There are also crowds and they cheer their ever-lovin heads off. There are even bands that play really loudly in the background. But eat before you go, because there are no hot dog or beer vendors. Not even cotton candy – but you can get popcorn and balloons on the way out. (Just don’t buy them on the way in because they won’t let you take them in the stadium.)

The entire program is announced in Hindi and I guess Urdu. I don’t understand a lick of either language – so please don’t ask me for exact translations. Basically they are saying:
Go team
We are better than you
Are not
Are too
Says who
Says me, that’s who

But remember, that is a loose translation.

I did, however, understand when the Indian side yelled HINNN-DOO-STAHN  and the Pakistani side answered with PAHK-EEE-STAHN.

It is quite the occasion and if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. Let me be sure to say that I would not plan an entire vacation around this, but if you are a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e. near it, don’t miss it.

The stadium…

The security – these guys sat right behind us – fully loaded – I am not sure if that made me feel better or not.

The cheerleaders dancers………

The gates………….

The gates had to be opened before they were closed………

Team Pakistan……………

The flags……….

The flags coming down……they are brought down together so that neither country has the “advantage”….

The gates closing again………

Team India…..

A few good things to know.

If you can get VIP seating – do it. Really – don’t hesitate – just say thank you and move on to a very uncrowded spot with a fantabulous view. Otherwise it is open seating and that means about 8,000 of your new best friends enter the gates at the same exact time as you do and rush for a seat. VIP seating is way better. And the security lines are much shorter.

Speaking of security – you will be screened at least twice.

I have been told that you are not allowed to take a bag in. I have also heard no cameras. We did not take in bags but we did take cameras in our hand. During the ceremony people sitting near us were asked to not take pictures. I was standing on my seat snapping away and no one said anything to me. So this is something you will definitely want to clarify before you go.

You should plan on walking a fair distance from the parking area to the stadium and back (you can actually take a rickshaw up to it but you must walk back). Comfy shoes are a good idea.It’s really not that far – but I would hate for you to be surprised by it.

And remember, you are not allowed to take your cell phone so clarify with your driver exactly where he will meet you before you head to the stadium. Have him point to it and say right here. You won’t be able to call him when you leave the stadium because you won’t have your phone.

We did not have to use the restrooms while we were there but I always feel it is a good idea not to need to use them when there are that many people who might need to do the same thing.

The whole ceremony lasts about 30 minutes max.

The Hatfields and McCoys……….

There are so many things about our neighborhood here in India that are different from what we are used to. The houses are (much) closer together. Staff live behind the houses and are not exactly always quiet. I often wake up in the middle of the night to the tune of someone blowing his nose. (Nope, not kidding.) Firecrackers frequently go off in the middle of the night. Cars honk their horns. Dogs bark all. the. flippin. time. Every house has a gate. Guards stand at nearly every gate. Electricity comes and goes. And many (of the luckier) houses have generators.

According to our neighbor, our generator is extremely loud when the “garage” door is open. According to the company who maintains our generator, we must leave the “garage” door open so that the generator does not overheat (and then break). You might remember a couple sentences ago when I said that electricity comes and goes. It goes out pretty much at least once a day. The generator kicks in and we hardly miss a beat.

this is the "garage" - it took me a while to even know what he was talking about

Well, Mr. Hatfield next door is not happy about the noise pollution we are creating.

Okay.

A. Reread paragraph number 1 – dogs bark, cars honk, firecrakers crack, noses blow, and blah blah blah. It is already v.e.r.y. noisy here.

B. I never realized you could hear our generator until Mr. Hatfield pointed that out to me. And yes, it is louder with the door open than closed but that is how it continues to work. And it is really a steady hum – after about 5 minutes it really just becomes white noise. It has never bothered us. I did not wake up yesterday with a sinister plot to noise him out of the neighborhood.

C. Mr. Hatfield plays his tv v.e.r.y. l.o.u.d.l.y. every. night. I go to bed around 10ish. Guess what time he decides to start watching tv. yep- that would be 10:01ish.

Yes, I did feel it was my McCoyly neighborly duty to point that out to him. Because he delays my bedtime by at least 45 minutes every night.

Neighbor: Oh, I didn’t know.
Me: No, you wouldn’t – you couldn’t hear me complaining because your tv is loud enough for the astronauts to hear. Besides, I haven’t said anything because it’s a noisy neighborhood anyway and our houses are not even 10 feet from each other. You have to expect to hear some noises when our houses are this close.
Neighbor: Well we will change that, we just didn’t know  – but you have to understand that no one has lived in your house for two years and it’s been very quiet until now.
Me: (completely dumbfounded and starring at him with my best WTH look) and are you suggesting that we not use electricity?
Neighbor: to himself – as a matter of fact that is not what I am suggesting – I am actually suggesting you all move out so the house can be empty and quiet again – But what I am willing to say out loud is: Yes, when we want to sit outside, you should not have the generator on – it’s too noisy
Me: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm – yeah – what????????

So Mr. Hatfield and his wife decide to sit outside in the driveway because yesterday was quite a lovely day. They have a beautiful terrace in the front of their house (away from the “garage”) but they did not want to sit there. He decides we should turn off our generator because it is too loud. Actually, to be fair, he decided we should shut the door. But when the guard explained that was not possible, he decided the only other solution was to turn off the generator (aka our electricity). Well, also to be fair, he did go on to offer another solution – we could simply replace our current generator with a quieter one. Yes, that was very kind of him to offer solutions not just complaints.

However.

He came over to ask the guard to ring my doorbell. This is new to me too. The guard must have sensed that this was not going to be pleasant and told him I was asleep. Excuse me? Okay then. Now I am not even deciding who comes in my gate and who doesn’t. I don’t fault the guard on this one – he was right on. It was not pleasant.

Mr. Hatfield then proceeds to yell at the top of his lungs (what was that about noise pollution Mr. Hatfield?) for about 10 minutes. Hubby was not home – my gate is wide open – there are about 5 men standing in front of the gate – someone is screaming in Hindi – and I don’t know what the heck is going on. I called hubby, he called the security company, they called his office, they called him back, he called me back. Holy indirect communication batman. It is insane. And yes, I could have simply walked outside and asked “what is going on” but really it did not feel safe and I had my three kids at home. So I put my head in the sand and peeked out the curtain.

He wants me to turn off the generator because he and his bride want to sit outside. Again, me turning off the generator means turning off the electricity in the whole house. That means no blog writing – see how this affects you. Ahhhhh. Now you get it. 😉 This is further complicated by the fact that his power had actually already come back on. So now he thinks I am just being obnoxious. Possibly. But not this time. Just because his power is on does not mean squat for our power. It doesn’t work like that here – we have lost power in half the house before.

Long story short. Mr. Hatfield informs me that 75% of the time he and his wife are not even home. So it is a simple request really. I should be able to anticipate when he and his wife will actually be home and then take it a step further to know when they will want to go outside. If I am really concerned about his well being, I will just ensure that the electricity is always working and we never have to use the generator. But if I choose to only use my powers for evil, then the least I can do is be ready to sacrifice our electrical needs for his quiet time outside – because apparently our generator is more annoying then the dogs barking and horns honking and him yelling at the top of his lungs with his tv blaring in the background.

He also informed me that the Indian Government has greatly improved its noise pollution regulations and if I do not comply by getting a new generator, he will have to take further action. Let the games begin. I am sure I am not done with this issue and that I will bore you to tears with an update in the very near future.

the irony in all of this is that we are apparently the very loud owners of a "silent generator"

Is it May yet? 😎

Alphabet soup…………..

Just in case you don’t remember every single post I write – here is a link to how numbers are “said” in India. It was called double oh seven.

Basically, for the number 911 – you would say nine double one. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe not so much.

Well, today I learned that the alphabet can be equally confusing.

My name has a couple of “double” letter sets and one “w”. Which apparently can be easily confused with double “u” – although I have never seen a double “u” actually used anywhere.  (Well maybe in the word vacuum – but I was not calling a vacuum shop – I was calling a lab for blood work. Not exactly the same same. And, yep, I will fill you in on how I have become a science experiment very soon.) Just to make it more fun, my name only has one type of letter of the vowel persuasion – there are 5 of them – and they are all the same vowel. So in the 11 letters in my name, there are lots of repeats. In fact, in those 11 spaces, there are actually only 5 different letters. Yep, lots of repeats.

Does that make it hard to spell your name on the telephone to someone whose native language is Hindi? Of course it does. (Honestly, it wasn’t that easy in the U.S. either because my street name has all the same problems as my name.) But throw in accents – mine and theirs – and it gets a wee bit harder.

My big challenge today was to explain that it is “w” not double “u”. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard – does it?

Oh, my friend, I blog to differ……………..  😎

Dueling Drivers……….

I know many of you roll your eyes when I talk about my “staff” woes. I completely realize that it really is hard to understand how “un”helpful help can be. You lose a lot of your independence and that’s not always fun. But sometimes it is funny. Sometimes in India I have to remember that as long as it ends up as a funny story later, I should laugh about it now.

Let me ‘splain…

As you might recall, our driver is a good driver. We are happy enough with him. He is reliable and kind. Sometimes communication with him is not easy, but most of the time he gets it pretty well. I have learned that whenever we are going in a caravan that I must get the other drivers phone numbers – just in case. That has proven to be very helpful and wise.

Things have been good enough. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I called him and told him I was on my way out of the school. He said, “Yes, ma’am, I am coming.” That’s what he always says and he always comes.

Until yesterday. I sat for about 10 minutes – yes, in the 110 degree heat – and then I called him back. No answer.

Houston, we have a problem.

I called again at 15 minutes. You got it. Still no answer. Now I am worried. It’s really not like him.

I want to worry about my driver like I want a root canal. Really, it’s just not on my list of priorities.

So, I call hubby. Who calls our driver. No answer.

Hubby calls his assistant. Hubby’s assistant calls our driver. No answer.

Yes, it was like beating our head against the wall – a wall with very long nails that have been waiting  in the 110 degree heat. Yes, that would hurt.  I know someone brilliant once said that repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting a different result is foolish.

Call us foolish. It’s like a bad joke – how many expats does it take to call a driver?

I called our driver again. What do you think the odds are that there was NO ANSWER?

Hubby sends another car. It’s going to take 45 minutes to get to me. Yeah, that’s a long time. Yes, it was super duper hot outside. Yes, I had to pee. Yes, I should have taken a cab. Something about being dependent on others makes you forget temporarily how to think in a straight line. Plus I am now really worried about our driver. I want to be sure he is okay.

AUGH.

As I sit waiting for driver number 2, driver number 1 shows up in a rickshaw. WTH?

It seems he locked his keys in the car – and his phone. WTH?

I wondered the same thing – yes, he answered the phone and told me he was coming. AND THEN he locked his keys in the car AND his phone. Seriously, WTH?

Upon further investigation interrogation, we learned that he was sleeping on the passenger side. I called and woke him up. He answered the phone. He got out of the car to get in the drivers seat and WALAHHHHHHHHH. Okay then.

Then he tried for 25 minutes to get into the car – while he knew I was waiting. He was literally around the corner trying for 25 minutes to open the door. When he ultimately accepted that he was not going to be able to get the door open without a key or call me without a phone, he caught a rickshaw to come give me an update. Yes, I suppose that was very kind of him.

Do you see how having a driver is like having a teenager? Did you see why it’s not all butterflies and unicorns dancing on rainbows?

Oh, and yes, it gets better. You knew it would.

Now our driver and I are waiting together outside in the heat. He feels terrible. I am not happy – glad that he is okay – but not really happy – but trying not to act like a biotch, because really  these things can happen. I cannot make small talk with him because (A) I don’t want to and (B) I don’t speak Hindi. It was like two divorced parents waiting to congratulate their kid for getting the Nobel Prize. All smiles on the outside – but not exactly happy, happy to be standing next to each other waiting.

So, driver number 2 (finally) comes. Driver number 1 gets in the front seat. I get in the back seat. We are going to my house to wait for a second set of keys to be delivered. It’s going to take about 2 hours. Fine.

All the way home I hear blah, blah, blah Ma’am (that’s me) – blah blah blah Saab (that’s hubby) – blah blah blah mobile (that’s how you say cell phone here).

That’s how it went the whole way home – ma’am – saab – mobile – ma’am – saab – mobile – ma’am – saab – mobile. AUGH!

Hey dudes, can you use that little device right in front of you? It’s called a rear view mirror and it lets you see what is behind you. That would be me. I don’t speak Hindi but I know what Saab and Ma’am mean. I know you are talking about me. STOP IT.

I remembered that I needed to get some cash. So, I asked driver 2 to stop at the ATM machine.

We stop at the ATM and now, ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a ballgame. Driver number 1 and driver number 2 are trying to see who is going to get to my door first to open it for me. They are like two kindergartners trying to be first in line for free ice cream and lizards.

While they are busy trying to out open each other, I turn slightly to the left and open my own friggin’ door. I have not completely forgotten how to take care of that for myself. And alas, I will need this simple skill in just a few weeks when I am left to my own devices in the U.S.

I went to the ATM and get money. Then back to the car. They’re at it again. Me first. No me first.

Seriously – I got it. It’s just a door – I can handle it. (get it?  “handle” it? door handle. hee hee)

And although, waiting in the 110 degree heat wasn’t that funny – and worrying about our driver is not what I would have picked to do – I can now see the humor in this. It has become a funny story.

Global Adjustments and At a Glance………

I mentioned the other day that I went to a presentation given by Ranjini Manian the CEO and founder of Global Adjustments.

It was very interesting on a number of levels. First of all, I won a prize! Yeah for me. It was this wash cloth. This washcloth was made by handicapped people and it is adorable. They may be handicapped but they sure are talented.

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I also won a cd that has the Indian National Anthem on it. Yeah for me again. 😎 Here is a link to it if you want to hear it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZi3fwP09zw. This one is by AR Rahman – that’s right movie buffs – THE AR Rahman of Slumdog Million. Jai Ho indeed. It is a beautiful song.

And just because I am bi-partisan like that, here is a link to the U.S. National Anthem by Whitney Houston. And yes, I LOVE this song.

Now, back to the meeting. Global Adjustments is a group that helps expats get more comfortable in their new surroundings. As such, the presentation was focused on helping us survive our transitions. Now, this is a monumental task because there were probably 125 people at the meeting – about 10 were Americans, one was an Indian who left and has returned to live in India, and then there were people from everywhere else. So forget about a level playing field – there isn’t a lot of common ground – except for the fact that we were all willing to take on the adventure of moving far from home in hopes of growing as global citizens.

So there are some universal truths. You do not have to agree/like with them – but just knowing that they exist will help with your transition.

Here goes……..

Language

English by any other name is not necessarily the English you know. Communicating can be frustrating here. Many people hire staff who claim to speak English then get extremely frustrated when they have a hard time talking with them in English. As you know, this has NEVER happened to ME personally, but some poor other frustrated souls. 😉 So, what Ranjini recommended is to use fewer words. My hubby actually recommends this too. He is wicked smart like that.

The ever polite English woman might ask her cook for a cup of tea in this way …

It would be so lovely if you could possibly make me a little cup of tea, if you wouldn’t mind, please. Thank you so much.

Apparently, “a cup of tea, please” is much less muddled and easier to understand. Translation – less frustrating and it means you get that bloody cup of tea much faster.

Namaste

This is the word you use to greet someone in India. It means much more than just hello or nice to meet/see you. It literally means “I bow to the divine in you”. Now that is some kick arse kind of lovely – don’t you think? It is accompanied by holding your palms together at your chest and bending a little towards the person you are greeting.

Time

Time does not exactly stand still here – but it is a relative term. I have learned an important word – lugbug (I am not sure how to spell it – but that is how you I say it.) Lugbug means “about”. That is how time is measured here – about. It is not precise.

Ranjini gave the example of ASAP. To A-type Americans this means yesterday or at least right now. As SOON as possible. To Indians this means as soon as “p.a.u.s.i.b.l.e.” – whenever you get it done – pauses are possible.  See there is a big difference.

Dress

Indians dress much more conservatively than most Westerners. Knees and shoulders covered. Yes, even when it is 110+ degrees outside. Not everyone visiting/living here follows those guidelines – but really it is respectful to do so. It will save you stares and maybe even some jeers.

Ranjini also mentioned that if possible take an Indian woman with you shopping for clothes. Apparently, Indians can be critical of each others dress (women being critical must be universal hee hee) and there are some fabric/styles that are more acceptable than others. I don’t really follow this one too closely. I have never been too overly aware of what other people think about the way I dress – I am a pretty boring dresser – solids with solids – so I wear what I like. If I get laughed at, it won’t be the first time. But this good to know if you are at all self -conscious or if you are going to a business meeting or traditional Indian event. There I would seek out some guidance.

Yes/No/Silence

Apparently, most Indians consider it rude to say no to a request. So, many times, they will agree to do something that is simply not possible. Enter frustrated expat full of expectations that yes actually means yes. There’s that damn language barrier again. So, if you get silence or a not exactly a resounding yes response – it is important to ask follow-up questions. How are you going to do this? When are you going to do this? Are you absolutely sure you can do this?

Ranjini also suggested that it might be helpful to give people an “out” when you ask them something. Tell them that you want an honest answer and it is okay to say that it might be hard to accomplish or even that it cannot be done. Explain that it is better to be upfront with expectations than to disappoint you later.

This is not just in an office my friends, remember this for electricians, carpenters, cooks, drivers, EVERYBODY!

Heirarchy

It is important to remember that this is a hierarchical society – whether you agree with it or not. Bigger cities are getting away from this somewhat – but not entirely. Your driver will likely outrank your cook – who will outrank your housekeeper. You outrank them all. 😎

Family

Indians are hugely attached and involved with their families. It is important to remember how significant their families and extended families are to them. Respect those bonds.

Domestic Help

I had several questions about this and sadly there was not enough time to open up a real discussion on this issue. But Ranjini said that most expats need to let go of the guilt of having staff. It is part of life here and in many ways it is (almost) a necessity. I still cannot bring myself to say it is required – but believe me it is extremely helpful and my life would stink without any help. So, I count my blessings on this one.

Double Oh Seven…..

There are a lot of things that are different here in India. Most of them are pretty easy to adapt to. Some of them are causing me to stumble – not trip and fall – just stumble a tad.

Telephone numbers here are written differently. Not a big deal. But the way you say them makes me pause everytime. Talk about slowing down my ears.

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How would you say that number?

If you are American, you would probably say

Nine – Seven – Four – Four – Four – Zero – Eight – Seven – Seven

If you are in India, you would say

Nine – Seven – One – Triple Four – Zero – Eight – Double Seven

If you have been here a while and stayed with your Hindi lessons, you would say

Nau – Sat – Triple Car – Sunya – Ath – Double Sat

Be careful before you going around impressing all the ladies with your Hindi skills – the words aren’t pronounced like they are spelled – another stumbling block – for example, ath is “ought” – at least I think it is. AUGH.

Now, I know why James Bond is Double Oh Seven – it sounds a little better than Zero-Zero-Seven.

Not Exactly Driving Miss Daisy………

You might remember the 1989 film in which Morgan Freeman plays a driver for an old stubborn Jewish woman in Atlanta. It takes a long time for the woman to be convinced that having a driver is a good thing and there are several scenes where they are shown slowly driving down unattended roads with few distractions. Ha. My riding in the car experience is not exactly “Driving Miss Daisy”.

Driving (or in my case “riding”) in Delhi is a unique experience. There is always a lot to see. It is never, ever boring. The first thing I noticed was the noise. It is VERY noisy. People honk their horns constantly. It means “move over, I am behind you and want to pass” or “hey, I was here first” or “it’s been too quiet for the last 5 seconds, I think I will honk my horn.” Some of the trucks even have signs on the back that say “honk, please”. This lets them know you are there. Even though it is a pretty good bet that someone is there – apparently, it’s good for them to know it’s you. There are some billboard signs that say “if you love Peace, don’t honk.”

The one thing I have not seen yet is road rage. People just seem to accept that it is crowded. Right of way is earned by the car that inches the furthest ahead. There are lines in the road – but I am not sure why. We have counted up to 7 vehicles across on a two-lane road. No, that is not really a great idea. Bikes, scooters, motorcycles, carts, tractors, pedestrians, cars, trucks, and buses all share the same roads. Sometimes there are beggars and animals in the middle of the road too – just to keep it interesting.

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This is an auto rickshaw. It has a motor and three wheels. They have horns and certainly are not afraid to use them. They are smaller than a car but slightly more substantial than a motorcycle – so they are more nimble than the cars. They weave and bob through traffic with the best of them. I have counted up to 10 people in one of these – it’s not uncommon and no, I am not kidding.

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More than one person can ride on a bike.

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This is a rickshaw powered the old-fashioned way – with hard work. My Dad would say that it builds character. But, I do not hope to grow up to be a rickshaw driver. Many of them are barefoot.

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Usually more than one person is riding in them. And it’s not necessarily that I am a horrible photographer – but it is often very hazy here. Okay, maybe the slightly blurry part was operator error.

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Delhi is expanding its metro transportation system – so there is a lot of construction.

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Your car will be side-swiped at some point. At least once. So far, we have had three traffic incidents. I consider it preparation for having teenaged drivers.

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There are animals everywhere. Some of them are working – some are just wandering. This guy needs a hug.

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This guy is delivering eggs somewhere. Did you know that eggs do not have to be refrigerated? Don’t worry – we still keep ours in the fridge. But they don’t have to be. I am just not willing to risk it. Hmmm.

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Motorcycles can transport entire families.

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Just maybe a scarf should not be worn on a motorcycle. But that is the way it is done here. Yes, this always makes me nervous.

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Besides the poverty – this is one of the things that is the hardest for Western women to understand. Yes, you are seeing that right – she does not have a helmet on, her scarf is draping, and she is sitting side-saddled. And no, she is not holding on to him.

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Indians seem to make the most of everything. A lot of people can fit in one car. I am always surprised when I see these cars so full of people and I always have to peek in. I never see children fighting over who is touching whom or parents drawing imaginary lines in the seat. I would love to know how they make that work.

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Sometimes  people will drive the wrong way down the road.

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Sometimes trucks are overloaded. Would you like to buy a sweater?

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Sometimes people just hitch a ride. Going my way?

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Sometimes people walk down the side of the road with bundles of sticks on their heads.

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Sometimes it’s baskets.

This is just a little teaser of all the things you can see while driving in India. I will share more later – but right now, I think your boss, wife, and/or kids might be calling. 😎 I know mine are!

Could you spell that please?

I am no stranger to people not understanding me. I was born in South Carolina and lived in the somewhat deep south until 4th grade. We moved to Germany for 5th grade and sometimes people did not understand what I was saying – I had me a twang. For 7th grade we moved to Georgia – minus some of the twang – I had lost most of it – and some of my words seemed odd and, strangely, less accented.

Six years in Georgia fixed that quite nicely. Pass me a mint julep. Pretty please. And then off to college I went. Up North.  Well (just barely) south of the Mason Dixon line. But North is in the eye of the beholder.  It was in a very diverse area but an area with no real accent of its own. Enter my southern drawl. Could you spell that please – I heard that more than once and it seemed so insulting. Doesn’t everyone say PEEEEEEnuhhhhts, puh leeeeees?

Then there was the time I went to visit my cousin in Wyoming. Play me some mountain music, Hillbilly. The friends of my cousin laughed so hard at my accent that their sody pop came right out of them their noses. I cried for over an hour. They were not tears of joy.

So moving to India and hearing the different accents hasn’t been too hard for me. I can sympathize. I just slow down my ears and listen up real good. It is really amazing, even the Americans here are from all over the world. It is the United Nations of Accents.

Last week, I started taking Hindi lessons. Okay, I have had one (ek) lesson. But I have been trying out some of my new words.

It turns out I still have me a funny little accent. The three Indian men in my daily life, Raju, Ravi, and Kahn all have a hard time understanding just exactly what it is I am trying to say. When they slow down their ears – they can understand most of it. It is a lesson in slow for all of us.

I was leaving to go to the market the other day and Raju and Ravi taught me how to say goodbye – ta ta. Sounds like Tigger – hey, I can remember that. I can even spell it.

Then they tried to teach me how to say “take me to” Defence (this is not misspelled – remember the British influence here) Colony market. I don’t even remember the words they tried to teach me because I am blocking this from recent memory. They told me – I practiced – they laughed – I made them pinky swear they weren’t teaching me to call our driver a jerk – and I practiced again.

Then I got in the car

Me: Kahn and then “what (I thought) they taught me to say”
Kahn: Ma’am?
Me: Doesn’t that mean “I want to go to Defence Colony Market”?
Kahn: Ma’am?
Me: What did I just say?
Kahn: Defence Colony Ma’am?
Me: Okay. Defence Colony Market it is. Can we go there?
Kahn: Yes Ma’am.

Then our driver explains the market to me. He’ll park here and wait for me here. There are two sides. You go down the right and then come back up the right. He’ll wait here. Here is where he will be. Waiting for me. Ma’am.

Okay, it is not lost on me that he could not understand “I want to go to the market” but he could completely explain the market to me. Maybe I am just language retarded. Maybe falling out of a swing when I was little and hitting my head on cement really was something to be a wee bit more concerned about.

My teacher is coming back on Monday and you can be sure, my first lesson will be – I want to go to…….

Ta Ta.