Say What?

I love India…a lot…but sometimes I am left shaking my head. It has definitely taken some time to acclimate myself so that my immediate reaction is not are you kidding me?!? and is instead ha…only in India. I have written before about my sometimes frustration for the lack of logic, but I’ve grown slightly fond of it. Slightly. Depending on the day.

Last weekend I went to the grocery store to buy a few things. My total came to 458 rupees, so I handed over a 500 rupee note. The cashier, of course, had no change, so he scurried around to the other tellers to see what he could gather. When he came back he handed me 2-ten rupee notes. When I stood and waited, he apologized and and handed over another ten rupee note and two pieces of hard candy. When I inquired about the other two rupees…he pointed to the hard candies. I asked again, and he replied “No change madam, candy”.  Now, two rupees is about three US cents, so it’s pretty insignificant, even here. But the manner of the cashier, his attitude of why on earth are you still worried about two rupees? Didn’t you see the candy in your hand? left me laughing to myself as I walked away. Oh India.

Later that day I met up with a colleague for dinner. She is from Australia (along with most of my office), so everyone has been quite excited to check out the brand new Australian restaurant that had just opened up nearby. Mostly…we were quite intrigued as to what it would be. The menu looked great online, so off we went. Though it was 7pm on a Saturday night, we were only people on the outdoor, rooftop section. Well…only customers. There were 18 waiters and waitresses (yes, I counted) who hung out, stared at the white girls and hurried to get the EDM speakers and disco lights set up for our entertainment.

We were excited for the large beer list, something that can usually be a little hard to find here. There was a whole “foreign beer” section, which we both quickly reviewed and then placed our order. “Sorry,” the waiter replied, “we don’t have those”. We each picked a second choice, both of which were out of stock. When we asked what beer they did have, he pointed to Kingfisher, India’s home brew. So…out of the 20+ options, they had one. We settled on gin and tonics instead.

Next came the food. We both immediately saw calamari and said ohhh. But…it wasn’t meant to be. No calamari, either. We munched on our replacement wedges while perusing the remainder of the menu. We both decided on wraps – seemed simple enough. I ordered the mutton. After about fifteen minutes, the waiter brought out two plates, each with four sausages stacked, pyramid-style, next to a little salad and some dipping sauce. Hmm…wasn’t quite what we were expecting. The waiter first tried to tell us that the actual wrap wasn’t included and we would need to pay extra (though it was listed on the menu). Again…logic doesn’t get very far here. We started to argue, but then just said whatever, bring two.

After lots of discussions among the 18 waiters, we got free roomalis (aka tortillas) and complementary pink, sugary pina colada. Oh well…it was an adventure.

As my time in India is winding down I’ve started appreciating these little quirks a little more. Then, a colleague in Alaska sent me a picture of the town where I’ll be living. Oh man…I CANNOT WAIT.

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Compare the top picture to the one below, which was a street festival this weekend on Bangalore. Also beautiful, but the contrast couldn’t be greater 🙂

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