Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notes from an overgrown island - Part II

Part 1 here.
Ok this time I am not going to ramble. Hoping to note my observations in some quick points:
  • Until I landed in this country, English spoken with the 'r's mauled beyond recognition was all "Foreign accent" to me. But now I think I have started distinguishing English accent from American. For starters, watch the "Byeeeeee" comedy scene in Baasha. That's the kind of bye everyone sings here. Every single time. Had NSYNC been an English boy-band, 'Bye Bye Bye' may have been set to Maya Malava Goula or Kaambodhi, for all you know. (To think of it, it's not just with 'Bye'. These people sing all courtesy phrases the same way - good morning / good evening / bye bye / etc)
  • In most places here, everything closes at 5 PM in the evening (except the pubs/bars/supermarkets). The whole place becomes very quiet after 6. Which indicates the amount of research that has gone into the making of this.
  • If you own a car, you would always worry about finding 1) a car park, and 2) a parking spot in the car park. It is an overwhelming worry that overwhelms you. Every time we plan a visit to some place, much of my intensive online research (which involves checking Google's first page results) revolves around locating convenient (and free) car parks. And finding a parking spot at office every morning is quite a worry for me. Whatever time I reach office, everyone seems to have gotten there before me. It's almost like they all have sync-ed their alarms to mine minus a few minutes. I remember reading an anecdote somewhere: about early-arrivers parking far from the building so that latecomers could find a nearer space and get to office quicker. That's effing bullshit. துண்டு போட்டு எடம் புடிக்காத கொறை. (The missus often suggests leaving the stepney behind to hold the space for the next day)
  • Graffiti seems commonplace along the rail routes here. But I haven't found any posters of SRMU Kannayyan yet. (Or maybe I haven't seen well enough yet)
  • The other day I looked out from home to find someone cleaning the bushes outside patiently over a few hours. I had almost offered him பழைய சோறு and சொம்புல தண்ணி when I realized it was my landlord. Do-It-Yourself is such a popular concept here. Primarily because labour is very expensive. We once had to get a locksmith over. He charged 45 pounds for a 10-min job, ending up making me question my career choices. Imagine - 45 pounds! For a 10-min job! In Indian Rupees that's, well, 45 x 70 (sorry, am lazy). So it's not surprising to find people here doing everything by themselves - washing, ironing, cleaning, gardening, growing fat etc.
  • Indian food is very common here. And 'parcel' shops are called Takeaways. Most takeaways here are Authentic Indian Takeaways run by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. So you get more types of Indian food that you get in India. I hadn't heard of Rogan Josh back at home - but it's possible that it may be popular outside of the South. But am bleddy sure there is no such thing as Madras Curry even in Madras. And the natives here perform anthar-baltis for the Chicken Balti - it's too popular here.
  • On a serious note - one stunning feature of this country is the independence with which disabled and the elderly lead their lives. A colleague at office is blind - and he is able to do everything by himself! He uses his mobile phone, comes by bus and whatnot! His guide dog is the only being whom we takes support from. Another colleague is wheelchair-ridden, but comes by a special car which she can wheel into and start driving! And the elderly here have to be seen to be believed - the way they live on their own, carry out all their travelling / weekly shopping / etc without any support whatsoever. Once when I offered to help carry bags for a very frail old lady, she smiled in response over her pain, and took time and effort to say: "I am fine, thanks all the same", when it was utterly clear that she was not fine at all. Phew.
  • And while on the topic of disabled-friendliness - even movie halls are so! Special shows are run with subtitles for the deaf; and there are "Audio Described" performances for the blind - a voice overlay would narrate the visual scenes of the movie as things happen. Check this sample from 00:18. (Now let your imagination run wild and let me know in the comments section, how you would audio-describe this video! You may want to start with a note on grizzly bears, maybe?)
So well, that's that!! Bye byeeeeeee...