February 27th, 2013
Bikes Fixed: 45
Bikes/Day Avg: 2.05
Best name for a fire extinguisher company ever.
Assuming you speak English.
Before I begin, a side note: Due to monstrous amounts of spam (about 20 posts a day), I have added a few phrases to a “hotlist;” that is, posts with those phrases are automatically marked as spam and disposed of. So if your post doesn’t appear, just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll go in and approve it. Or just don’t post a link to a website for Air Jordans at half off.
Where were we? Ah, yes. Dehradun.
So we woke up in the morning and had a long breakfast while waiting for Rishabh to be freed from boarding school (they can only leave campus on Sundays from 11 AM – 6:45 PM). At around 9:30 or 10 Prabhat had a meeting with someone from the school to sponsor a student from a lower income bracket (yay Prabhat!). After getting a small tour of campus…
What? There’s no roman architecture here!
…we hopped into the van and asked Rishabh and his friend where they’d like to go. Before I tell you what they said know that this boarding school doesn’t allow outside food. Everything you eat is cafeteria-style. Except on Sundays. So when Prabhat said “Where to?” it’s no surprise they both said, simultaneously,
I should mention that in Dehradun, for whatever reason, I had my first run-in with American-style beggars. In Gurgaon there were a few people who walked around and were “working” for their money in a more conventional sense, or at least one that a religious person might give money to (as a Hindu you are supposed to give 5% of your income to charity. A surprising amount of people do. A surprising amount don’t). Street performers, religious servants, the blind, etc. In Dehradun I got more of what I was expecting — people who didn’t do anything to warrant you giving them money except just asking for it.
(okay, what do I know. Begging culture is complicated here. I could do an entire post on it, but I’d probably be out of my league. Take this post with a grain of salt)
A kid came up to our car and tapped on the window. When we got out of our car at KFC there were some folks following us around putting their hand up to their mouth (“Money for food”). Unfortunately most of the money in these cases goes up… so you just have to ignore them.
Anyways. Perhaps I’ll do more on that later. But first… KFC.
Did you know such small portions even existed?
This is not your typical KFC. Okay, it did feel very American, especially in contrast to the Indian-style restaurants I’d been to thus far. It was spacious. There was advertising. There were some obvious nods to American-style fast food. But they also used more Indian spices — I definitely tasted some turmeric in the chicken. Your food comes on a plate, not in a bag (look at that chicken just sitting there, all out in the open! Preposterous!). And the prices — oh, the prices.
Definitely not American.
Okay, the TVs were American, but I see… (1 Rs = $0.02 if you want to do it yourself) a “chicken snacker” (small burger) for Rs. 35, $0.70; a “veggie snacker” (for religious reasons all the restuarants here (yes, EVEN KFC!!!) have veggie options) for Rs. 25, $0.50; a frappe(cino) for Rs. 39, $0.78… etc. To be fair, these items aren’t very big, but it sure beats the concept of a “dollar menu.”
For the record, the cashier did try and get me to “upgrade” my snack box to… something involving a drink. So, good for them.
Anyways, after KFC we went to see Die Hard.
– – –
Some notes on movies.
All the theater movies have at least two no-smoking ads, and each ad is played once in English, and once in Hindi. On that note, all the cigarette boxes and tobacco pouches have pictures of very dead lungs on them. The whole “don’t kill yourself with tobacco” campaign is in a different league than the one in the States. I can’t remember the last time I saw a “no smoking” ad at home.
Despite all the effort, everybody here smokes and chews. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been offered a cigarette or chewing tobacco. I think the tobacco industry has won just because of sheer number… there’s no peer pressure here… everyone is pressuring you. Sort of. By doing it themselves (side note: the US is 40th in life expectancy at 78 years old, India is 147th at 64. The highest and lowest are Japan, 83, and the Central African Republic, 45, respectively). You know, the old fashioned kind of peer pressure.
The English movies have subtitles. It makes the acting seem very… mundane (if you’ve ever read a transcript you know what I meant). I think it didn’t help that some of the lines in Die Hard died hard a few movies ago… and Bruce Willis mentioned he was on vacation quite a bit (funny the first few times). But I understand why; I’m French-as-a-Second-Language and French subtitles help me quite a bit.
– – –
Aaaaanyways. After the movie we bummed around a bit and went to another restaurant for dinner. Prabhat and I talked a lot and our guests (whose names I won’t mention for reasons you’ll understand in a second here) went shopping for food items. At 6:15 we got in the car to head back to the boarding school, and the next half hour was sounds of,
“They won’t check the jacket.”
“No, you take that.”
“I thought your backpack had a secret compartment…?”
“Will that fit in here?”
“Tang is OK, don’t bother.”
“Will you take the pop-tarts?”
“No, we should fit as much in the jacket as possible.”
Oh, boarding school. Anyways, from what I hear nothing got confiscated, so they did a good job of it.
We had a bit to kill so headed out of town to try and find some quiet (if you haven’t picked it out yet, that’s hard to come by — sitting in my room right now I can hear honking, dogs barking, some monkeys, dinner being made, two TVs… “quiet” isn’t part of the culture). We found a roadside restaurant with minimal honking and a nice breeze.
Prabhat spent a lot of time on the phone doing business, so I got some time to read, play cards, and practice my Hindi with the waiter. And by “practice my Hindi” I mean I learned the word “baya” (“sir”), and successfully ordered only one (“ek”) of many things. Go me!
After dinner we got to the train an hour early. Much to my surprise, Prabhat had booked us beds in a sleeper car. I’d never had one before so that was new for me. It may or may not have been on my to-do list, but maybe if there’s a next time, I’ll try it without a stuffy nose.
That’s right. Time to sleep on a train.
Anyways, the ride was from 11:30 PM to 5:30 AM. If you’re going to sleep, you may as well do it right.
Took the metro to Gurgaon from the train station, took an auto rickshaw home from the metro station…
This picture’s fuzziness brought to you by the fact that it was 6 AM.
…got home at 6:30, slept for two hours, then got up and went to work.
What a weekend.