Category: Learned in the City

What I learned In The City Part 6

Melbourne – Updated!

Theme Song: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by an Ozzie Cali Band – Green Day (Don’t you think Men-At-Work would have been just a bit TOO predictable?)

Okay continuing on with tradition:

1) (Most Important) – Cellphones cost the same in Australia as they do in India, and cheap prepaid means genuinely cheap prepaid. I even have 20 free international minutes, which I’m NOT going to use to call any of you suckaz. Can you handle that America? Ozzies know that there are other countries in the world, and that people might actually want to call people in those countries…they might even COME from other countries…

2) People in Australia are FRIENDLY. (but not friendly…at least I haven’t tried that out yet…). They’re also down-to-Earth. They know there is place called India out there – and that it consists of people who are good at Cricket. They’re even #1 in Cricket. They even believe that the world is round, that humans descended from Apes, and don’t need a label on the textbooks that tell them so, and that 0 degrees Longitude lies at the centre of a world map.

3) As mentioned in a previous post, the women are hot, and the men are not, so ignoring something a certain freelance Delhi Journalist said, I have a chance – with the WOMEN.

4) Melbourne is a Beautiful, with a capital B, city. Why? Because it is the first time I have EVER seen a drive-thru LIQUOR STORE ANYWHERE in my life. The cars drive in, they place their orders, and they drive out. Oh. My. God. (but one of my fellow MBA scohorts says that this exists in the Southern part of USA too). Oh did I mention there’s a Casino (Called the Crown) in Downtown Melbun? Haven’t been there yet, but how else is a broke student supposed to earn some money? Oh did I mention it has a nice skyline and great countryside by the suburbs too?

5) All the veggies and the Meat here looks and tastes Fresh, whereas in another continent across the Pacific, that shall remain nameless, the veggies and the chicken tastes like shit.

6) Melbourne is home to flies. Yes, you heard me correctly. Flies, in the summer. Not just any f-ing flies but fucking stick-to-you-until-you-contemplate-suicide type flies. At first I thought I’d brought them over from India, because Oz has a very fragile ecosystem (read Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond), and so they don’t allow anything organic into Australia. And I mean ANYTHING organic. It’s a wonder they let me in!But no, flies are native to Australia, and they come out when the temp goes over 27 degrees.

7)Apparently, out in the suburbs, you have to watch for Kangaroos crossing the roads in the
middle of the night. (I hope they hold hands and look both ways).

8)You just get a positive vibe from everybody here. You can sense that here lie people who are at peace with themselves, whereas in another continent-across-the-Pacific-that-shall-remain-nameless, you could sense the unrest of their souls. On the other hand, I could be talking Shit.

9)For some reason, Ozzies don’t like bathroom privacy. All the urinals were open, with no divisions between ‘em. I ended up suffering from a lot of stagefright. My poor kidneys. Following on from this, there are NO LOCKs on any internal house doors, including bathroom doors! Of course, all the Indians I met had kundis installed on their bathroom doors.

10) The Indians. They’re not Confused Desis here. I wondered why for while, and then I realized that they all migrated here in the late ’90s and early ’00s. So they don’t have any “I came here with 8 rupees in my pocket” type stories or “we didn’t do that back home in my village-called-New-Delhi in India when I was your age” type stories. They’re very chill, just like the Ozzies. I swear I saw a Tomato tell me to “have a gidday, mate” at the local Safeway. Further, even though we are very far away from India (it’s a 12 hour flight between Bombay and Sydney), I’ve never felt cut off from India like I did in America. (This could be because my cellphone works here, and people from India have been freely SMS-ing me and vice versa). I think it’s also because Ozzies haven’t cut themselves off from the rest of the world either like some other nameless continent across the Pacific.

11) Victoria Bitter is Australian for Beer, not Fosters. But to me, it tasted just like Fosters, only it was served in a bottle that looked like it should have been used to serve Phenyl or Cough Syrup, not Beer. Will try and upload pictures.

12) Australia’s Labour Laws are awful, much worse than India’s. I can just see the Typist Cartel jumping for joy and using Australia as an example of how strict labour laws can work, even in a free-market economy. They’re wrong, of course, and I have a post which will explain why coming up, once I move into my apartment. Oh I have a Parsi flatmate who looks JUST like Freddy Mercury. I swear it. I also have a flatmate from Bombay, but we all know what Bombay people are like. They’re not worth mentioing. Ouch.

13) Since we are so far south here, it’s possible even for Brown people to get sunburnt here. Weird. More UV rays, and less of the other stuff! My nose is PINK!

Hmmm, did I mention I’m only 10 minutes away from the MCG. That’s rights folks, stop wishing me a painful death!

Saket it is not called CatBlogging when Men do it, it’s called any one of the following:

KuttaBlogging, ChickenLit, DesiChickenLit, ButterChickenLit.

And guys there will most likely be a drop in post frequency (as may already have been witnessed). What with MBA studying, and chasing after hot Peruvian, Singaporean and Australian women, I just won’t have the time – unless I find something to piss me off (which seems unlikely in this country). Feel free to keep yourself occupied by sending me abuses in Hindi, or reading my older posts, or reminiscing to your Grandkids about how there once used to be this elite blogger called TTG who shook the establishment by its very foundations..”Lekin ab to woh sirf dil hi dil mein rehta hai”…or not. I might post something, but it’ll most likely be purely for me, and my small band of masochistsloyal followers….which is er… what I always did, so what’s changed really?

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What I learned in MY City

It was gonna happen eventually.

Delhi, OH Delhi, I will miss you so.

From the Fashion-Ramp that is M-Block Market, G.K. 1 to the 21st Century Metro train running over Rohini and Dwarka.

From the Tihar Jail in Janak Puri, to the Shipra Mall in Ghaziabad.

From the HCL office in Gurgaon, to the Times of India office in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.

From the the dead Muslims lying in our parks, to the burnt Hindus floating in the Yamuna.

From the wide roads of a British-Built capital, to the narrow roads of an old Mughal City.

From the Snobbery of South Delhi, to the Punjabiyat of Karol Bagh (formerly Carol Gardens, I shit you not).

From the Embassy Restaurant in Connaught Place, to the McDonald’s opening up in subterranean Train Stations.

From the murder death and devastation that is New Delhi Railway Station to the murder death and devastation that is the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

From the gazillion cycles clogging up Kapas Heda, to the 8 Porsche Cayennes, 35 S Class Mercedes and the Bentley Showroom in the Government-owned Ashoka Hotel.

From the pucca Army sahibs to the nouveau-rich Buntys and Montys.

From Rajinder da Dhaba to The Great Kebab Factory.

From National Highway 8 to the Grand Trunk Road.

From the borehole to the Delhi Jal Board

From the invertor to the BSES Rajdhani Power Company.

From Connaught Place to Nehru Place

From the cycle rickshaw to the “World’s Largest CNG-Powered Bus Fleet”.

From TTG to Sheila Dixit

From Vikas Marg to the NOIDA toll bridge

From Mall Road to Shopping Mall (MG) Road

From the Delhi Golf Club to the Classic Golf Resort

From the corpses of the Archana and Savitri movie theatres to the PVR Europa Lounges

From sting operators to attractive blog-journalists

From A Saket Resident, to a Resident Saket

From 47 degrees to 5-Metre-only visibility.

From Delhi Bitches to Honest Policemen

From Car Pool Partners to a Lack of Partners (1, 2)

From The Rules of Delhi to Delhi RULZ!

(From reading more, to ignoring the read more)

What I Learned In The City pt 5

A Weekend in The City of The Lion
2005, so far has turned out be a great year for travel for me. I haven’t travelled to so many places in such a short time ever, in the history of my short/long life. The odd thing is that I simply seem to be treading paths already trodden. I’ve been to HongKong/Singapore/USA before at different periods in my life.

I began this year with New York and London.
Then spent a little bit of time in Bombay.
Then Hong Kong.
Then Agra (of course New Delhi comes in the middle of all this).
Finally, I spent the last 4 days in Singapore.

Singapore is an Anglicisation of the words Singha-Pura….which is Sanskrit for Lion City (thus the famous MerLion as Singapore’s emblem).

So here’s what I learned (with an inevitable HongKong-Singapore comparison, as many people refer to these city-states in the same breath). Can’t wait for the day that those cities get happy at their “de-hyphenation”, LOL.

1) (The Most important point, again). Cellphones are cheaper in India than in Singapore. In fact, Singapore in general seemed to be expensive – US$1 = S$1.65

2) There aren’t half as many tall buildings in Singapore than in HongKong. The population is also around half.

3) Singapore is very close to the Equator. This means that in June, it ALWAYS rains around 4 pm… (Hong Kong, on the other hand, has a cold winter). In July, you should also be sure to take your umbrella with you.

4)Despite all the alleged strictness and caning, I saw a drunken brawl go on for about 20 minutes in an area called Boat Quay, among some really happening clubs and pubs.

5) Singapore is the one place I’ve been to in the world that Indians are actually liked and respected. When people talk of Indians in Singapore, it’s not as a bunch of usurpers, but as locals. In Hong Kong & India, Indians are just plain hated. In USA, we’re tolerated, with polite comments about how tasty Chicken Tikka is. In the UK, we may be jumped on by plainclothes policemen and shot 5 times before they realize we ain’t terrorists( OK, that’s below the belt, but whatever). The local paper (The Straits Times) even has a whole section devoted to India alone. Wow. The current prime minster is also talking about how he wants Singapore to be to India what Hong Kong was/is to China. (A sort of conduit/middleman, which is mutually benficial)

6) Diwali is a public holiday in Singapore (I think Fiji and Trinidad also have Diwali as a public holiday.)

7) Despite the drunken brawl mentioned, Singapore (like Hong Kong) is amongst the safest cities in the world. You can be walking down a dark alley here at 4 am in the morning, and not worry about a thing. I think this leads to the women over here being generally friendlier and more approachable. And considering that most people here are mixed-race (inter-mingling of Indian, Chinese, Malay, European), they are tongue-hanging-out-and-salivating attractive….or maybe I just went on a good day.

8) There isn’t as much public transport as I expected. In Hong Kong, double-decker buses are basically piling on to each other, and climbing steep hillsides and the like. In Singapore, not so much. There is an underground train system, but it seemed more in the mould of the New Delhi Metro – most stations were a bit of a walk.

9) Following on from point 8, I think this is why the most common type of car in Hong Kong is a Mercedes (as everyone from poor to upper-upper-middle class doesn’t own a car, they just use public transport. Whereas in S’pore, the most common car I saw was the Toyota Corolla. Of course this is just anecdotal. I also saw quite a few Honda Citys (Cities?) on the streets of S’pore. This car is only made (and sold) in India, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia/Singapore. I like it (because I own it).

10) The (Jurong) Bird Park is a great place to go sightseeing. Lots of rare birds and a great bird show. The Night Safari on the other hand was not so impressive. I’ve seen Elephants up close, and South Asian Buffalo are NOT something to be included in a “Safari”. But to be fair, to the urban Singaporean, the Night Safari would be a cool experience.

11) You need a visa for Singapore, (which is easy to get, but still annoying). S’pore, Hong Kong beats you on this count.

The bottom line is that Singapore is Hong Kong in the Twilight Zone. The Same, but Different.
Well that’s that. I don’t have any pictures of S’pore, and am still deciding between posting a Flikr badge or using Google Images to get the Hong Kong pictures up.

What I Learned in The City Pt 4

The reason for my blogging absence

Once upon a long time ago (in the 1840s), England and China fought a war, over Opium. England sort of won, and got a piece of rock off the coast of China for its troubles. This rock was called “Fragrant Harbour” in Cantonese…or Hong Kong, if you prefer. It started off as a malaria-infested fishing village. And ended up being a 21st Century City (but it managed to do this all in the 20th Century). Spending my formative years in Hong Kong (from the ages of 3 to 12) was a boon and a bane.

Boon for many reasons:
because I got to see tall, shiny buildings,
efficient people, efficient public transport,
exposure to the West while still firmly grounded in the East,
the ability to visit a beach and go trekking on a hillside all in the space of 6 hours, while watching the world’s shipping barrelling in and out of the harbour.

Bane, because it left me jaded, and with high expectations from people and countries forever more. When I was studying in Philadelphia for my bachelors, on the first day my RA was waxing on how big Philadelphia is, what a multicultural city it is, and what lovely public transport it has…. While it left many people impressed, I greeted it with a head shake. For somebody who had grown up in Hong Kong, you could not call 12 skyscrapers a city. A rattling subway car (in which the lights would go out for 2/3 seconds as it raced under the ground, is NOT efficient public transport). And most important of all, I saw 3 guys on three separate occasions peeing on the side of the street, with nobody saying anything to them (whereas in Hong Kong, they’d be fined HK$12,000 (US$1538). These scenes are reminiscent of a 2.5-world country… Then on my first visit to Manhattan (at night) – everybody else was wowed by the awe and wonder of the tall buildings and glittering lights and the beauty of it all. Whereas yours truly sat there with a “Been there, done that” kind of look. To be fair, New York is much bigger than Hong Kong, and far older. But I’ve still seen better :-p “Octopus” Smart Card, and put $100 into it. Then you just have to flash the card in any bus, subway, 7-11, McDonalds or any other place that has a reader
5) Hong Kong is now home to a Soho, like London and New York, with restaurants, bars, pubs and art galleries (hey, Soho is a better name than the old one – Lan Kwai Fong )
6) Hong Kong Chinese people are still blatantly racist against Indians – if you are sitting in a bus, for example, they will simply REFUSE to sit next to you until they are forced to to.
7) Hong Kong shopkeepers are less rude than they used to be (There used to be government sponsored campaigns encouraging shopkeepers to be nicer to tourists). But this also means that ever time you enter and leave a shop your are hit by blasts of “Haa-lowwww” and “Buh-bayyyyyyyyyy”

Pictures in the next post….

What I learned in The City pt 3

Different continent, but still called “The City”

1. The London Underground is spotless, compared to the New York Subway
2. Didn’t see half as many brown people there
3. London has lonely feel to it too…I guess being away from home…
4. Busaba ethai has the most delicious Thai food
5. People in London know how to speak English, and they walk slowly – In New York, that would be considered suspicious, terrorist activity…
6. London’s Daylight Savings Time takes place before New York’s – This caused two people to wake up an hour late and miss their bus to Brighton for a day-trip
7. There are only 5 skyscrapers in London, all bunched together in a place called Canary Wharf
8. I miss my home town, and am waiting to be sent back
9. In London, you can buy a single-use ticket for a bus and keep using it for three days before a bus driver actually notices it’s old (and then proceeds to stop the bus and kicks you out…)
10. Most important of all however is to never say never. 6 Months ago, the fact that would be able to go to London to visit a special someone seemed impossible. And here I am.

Ignore the read more… and in the meantime it’s a nice and pleasant 8 degrees Celcius in New York City. I think I will go for a walk…

What I learned in City pt 2

ohh oh, I’m an Indian, I’m a legal Indian, I’m a Delhi-Punjabi in New York….

Ok so here are more revelations

I’m an excuse.
For Indian food. Everytime I attempt to re-establish contact with long lost friends, alumni and other people, the first thing they suggest as a meeting place is some Indian restaurant or the other. They all figure this Indian misses his local food, and it give them an excuse to eat out. Result – I’ve had more Indian food in new York than I have in Delhi, where the occasional Pizza or Subway sandwich was consumed more frequently. (ok so this is a slight exaggeration, but my blog was always a little sensationlist).

Bank of America sux.
So I have a bank account in Seattle. But now I live in New York. So I would like to transfer my money from Seattle to New York. Can’t do it. Why? Because BOA has only just opened up in NYC (i.e. taken over FleetBoston branches) and their ‘integration’ isn’t complete yet, so they can’t shift the money, for free. If I’m willing to pay $40 in transfer fees then they’ll do it. Yea, right. Also, it means I have to request my cheque books from the Seattle office, and it’s been a week since I did that and they still haven’t showed up. This also means I have no blank cheque to give my company, which means my direct deposit and payroll forms haven’t been processed which means I’m not getting paid.

Mobile phone services, and all of the people I’m in contact with in America suck – here’s why
1) None of you American residents told me that YOU CAN bring your tri-band phone from India and use it here. After much debate with my flat mate we called up customer service, and sure enough the answer was that you can bring your phones here, despite the contrary info given on their websites….

2) I will never be able to get mobile phone service in America. Because I am here for only six months. That cancels out all the plans (1 year), and means I have to buy a phone at the full retail price and use very expensive prepaid. Will somebody like to explain to me why even the add on lines to family plan are with one year commitments?

If any mobile phone company employees are reading this blog, let me give them a suggestion for boosting their service:

1) REMOVE THOSE STUPID INCOMING CHARGES
2) Get rid of those even stupider one-year commitments or at least frikkin’ lower the fees for breaking your commitment. Some of us LEAVE the country (yes believe it or not, people actually do leave America), and are thus FORCED to break 1-year commitments. This is no reason fuck a person’s credit history and ban them from ever getting a phone again.
3) Do yourself a favour, and switch to the GSM bands used by the rest of the world. That might just make the quality and availability of the mobiles in the country improve drastically, along with reception.
4) Open up your prepaid service for use with ANY mobile phone which can work on your network frequencies.

These four things somehow allow mobile phone companies to get rich in savage barbarian countries like India, where people have no money. I wonder what effect they would have on countries where people do have money…

Ok, end of bitch

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What I Learned in the City (Part 1)

TTG in The Big Apple

Well it’s -15 Degrees C outside. It’s cold. But I’m here and made it in one piece. I was always a little unsure if I even wanted to come back, and was sad to leave Delhi. But as everybody else put it, I should go as it would be a “Learning Experience”. Well they were all right, it was a learning experience.

Here’s what I learned:

1) That my decision to move back to India 3 years ago was a good one.
I don’t miss America, and especially don’t miss New York

2) That New York runs on iPods.
White headphones, and units abound everywhere, all over the subway

3) That the immigration laws are still too free.
I walk into work on my first day, sit at my desk. In the distance somewhere, somebody goes “Ramesh?” So I’m like, ok so there’s a ramesh, big deal. Then Ramesh responds: “Ya Seema?”. So ok, Ramesh and Seema…Then Seema goes: “Yaar, call Ashok and Anu over and we’ll go have lunch with Venky”…and then they break out into a stream of Hindi and Tamil…for a few jet-lag induced split-seconds, I thought I was back in Gurgaon!!!!@!@!

4) That all the crap about how Indian software companies suck, and that the real ‘Quality’ software companies are American is absolute BULLSHIT!
As a consultant working for HCL, I’ve been privy to code written by people in a big software company, which we are now responsible for, and it’s actually quite shocking to see the level of the code. I would like to mention the name of our client and the software company that wrote this code before me to lend some credibility to my statement, but I have a feeling I might fired for it, so I won’t.

5) That New Jersey Transit, New York’s Subway and Indian Railways all fail with only one day of bad weather.

6) That I’m happier being an employee of HCL India who gets to travel to different parts of the world than a regular 9-to-5-er commuting to Queens everyday.

7) That the cellphone services available in America are absolutely barbaric – who the f- still charges people for incoming calls. RIDICULOUS! Not to mention the fact that I can’t bring my Indian phone and just buy a plan here. A-holes.

8) That Indians are truly cynical, or that there are more cynical Indians on the web than non-cynical ones – why? Because Deeshaa.org wins best Indiblog award. Deeshaa.org is total crap.

9) That when people say that Indians are backstabbers and small-minded with no work ethics, and Americans are intelligent professionals who don’t fear their inferiors stealing their jobs, to not believe them. What a crock of shit.

10) Following on from point 7, I ‘ve learned that I can’t live without a cellphone. I’m an addict. Gosh. And since I’m surrounded by iPods, I guess I’ll turn into one of those addicts too…but I guess I’ll try and save money and buy the cheapest one – the iPod Shuffle.

Anyway, that’s just some of the things I’ve learned. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more.
My next post will be about the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read – it’s my company’s guide to acclimatising its staff to America. Excerpt:
Do not touch people (of the same gender) in America. It may be construed as a homosexual act.
Please ensure that you use deodorant, and breath freshener, as Americans consider these odours offensive (Gee I guess we Indians love smelling each other!)

And the funniest thing was a drawing of what an ATM and ATM receipt looked like. Before somebody says there are no ATMs in India, I would like to ask them to go to almost ANY petrol pump/gas station and see for themselves (not to mention the fact that our own building in Delhi has an ATM)….

Till Next Time…

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