Little Surprises

I knew that India would be a totally different culture. I did some research, I taught myself a handful of words in the local language of Kannada and attempted to learn the alphabet. Mostly though, I just planned to figure it out when I got here. New cultures add a totally new dynamic to my favorite pastime – people watching. They’re great. Here is a list of the top ten things that I was totally thrown off by, in no particular order. Nothing major, but little tidbits that left me scratching my head and having to ask myself (or someone else) what in the world was going on – or sometimes instead they left me pleasantly surprised.

  1. The Bobble Head I know I said that these were in no particular order, but this one is at the top of the list for a reason. In Western culture, we have two main head movements to communicate nonverbally: up and down for yes and left to right for no. Immediately upon entering customs in the airport, I was confronted by the bobble head. It is a cross between a bobble head doll movement and attempting to move your head smoothly in a figure 8 fairly quickly. It means ok, maybe, I’m not sure, I didn’t hear you, I didn’t understand or I don’t really want to, but I don’t want to say no. I love watching people do this. It throws me off every time and I generally don’t know what the person is trying to convey.
  2. No Avocados This little one was quite sad. One of the main benefits of living in a tropical climate is avocados (and the other is mangos). Luckily, there is no shortage of other good food to be found, and you can get guavas from a bike!IMG_1589
  3. Security Deposit While apartments are super cheap (A 2 bed 2 bath in the center of the city is on average $300 TOTAL – $150/person) the security deposit is pretty high. Generally, landlords ask for 10-12 months rent up front for a security deposit. Crazy, right?!? I mean, some of these apartments could probably be purchased for not too much more. This is negotiable, and most of the time you can bump it down to a much more reasonable amount, but it did provide a shock when I first started searching. In typical Cindy fashion, I obviously assumed the website was just wrong and missing a decimal in the rupee amount. Nope.
  4. No Rain in Monsoon Season This is the peak of rainy season when it is supposed to rain every single evening and the weather should be in the 70’s. Thanks to global warming and a particularly strong El Nino, it has rained for a total of 2 hours one evening over the past week and been in the 90s every day. While a strong El Nino will likely bring lots of rain to California (woo!!!!) who desperately needs it, South Asia will likely have severe droughts. I guess time shall tell.
  5. Six Day School/Work Week In India, kids have a half day of school every Saturday, and most people work, including me. I thought my working Saturdays was over after my TPIN era, but no such luck. It is only a half day (until 2:30) so it’s not that bad. To counteract the extra hours, there are 25 national (or some state) holidays which we get off. This compares to 6 in the US, so I guess it all evens out.
  6. Finger Food No forks or spoons needed here. Rice? Fingers. Curry? Fingers. Lentils? Fingers. I made my first attempt at using my fingers in public today. Not too public, just lunch at work, but outside of the house. No major embarrassments, so I was pretty proud. You basically pick up a clump with all five fingers and then swiftly propel it into your mouth with your thumb. Also, most of the time when you go out to a local restaurant you eat standing up. All of the tables are standing height. I’m sure there is a reason for this, but I haven’t really figured it out yet.
  7. Uber! I mentioned in my last post, but there is Uber in Bangalore! Pretty awesome. There is also another service called OlaCar which is similar. India also has their own version of Yelp (Zomato) and Grub Hub (Food Panda). It’s the little conveniences that make such a big difference.
  8. Vineyards and Breweries I haven’t visited them yet, but there are both vineyards and breweries nearby. There are a handful of breweries in Bangalore such as Arbor and Mysor. Sula Vineyard is a little further away, but they have a pretty great music festival called Sulafest in February which I plan to be at.
  9. Such Bad Drivers I talked about this earlier this week. Nothing can prepare you for the drivers. End rant.
  10. Everything is Green! Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City for a reason. Everywhere you turn, there is a park, a tree-lined street, or beautiful flowers planted in pots on the median. When I was riding home today, there was a traffic jam because a tractor pulling a small tanker filled with water was watering flowers which were in the process of being planted on the median. If I have to be stuck in traffic, I’d rather it be so flowers could be planted instead of most other scenarios.

All in all, traffic jams and lack of avocados aside, it’s a pretty great place to live. Below are some pictures from Lal Bagh Park, a beautiful botanical garden in the center of the city.IMG_1480IMG_1467IMG_1469


2 thoughts on “Little Surprises

  1. Hi there… Welcome to India.. Specially Bangalore or Namma Bengaluru as we call it.. 😀 It’s nice that you have liked the place and observed soo many things in sucha short time.. Hope you have a wonderful time.. 😊


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