31 January 2018

Royters News: Catching up on today’s news

Finished up my day and sitting in my bed, tried to catch up on the highlights of the day. The first piece of news that caught my attention was that an Amtrak train full of politicians hit a truck today.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/01/31/gop-retreat-train-collides-with-truck-no-serious-injuries-reported/?utm_term=.033783ea5d50

Apparently, one of them was carrying garbage. Decided to dig further to find out which one.

🙂

5 January 2018

Sometimes, I wish I stuck to my core competencies…

One of the things I have made a habit out of after landing in a new country is learn the basics in the local language – you know – “Hello”, “Thank You”, “How are you” etc. If I am there for more than a day, I usually grab a local and learn a little more – like one thru ten, education system, political system and all that.

Bali is a place you always negotiate and haggle. And I like it. This is one of those “predictably irrational” things. I absolute delight in saving 30 cents in a haggle (the full price would be a dollar) but am too lazy to walk out of the hotel for half a kilometer and get my wine for five dollars less. Go figure.

In any case, after one of those temple visits today, the girls decided to buy some local sarongs. Once they had chosen what they wanted, they went away to sit under a tree as I commenced my bargaining.

The problem with my bargaining was that I was trying to beard the lion in its own den. So, I started with my knowledge in Indonesian numerals that I had just learnt the previous day – mpat.. noll.. noll… I started. For the Indonesiany-challenged, let me tell you – a problem with Indonesian currency is that everything is in thousands and millions. The lowest denomination in one thousand. No idea why. But basically, I was “nolling” all the time. (noll being a zero).

The lady was trying her best in her language. Which I did not know. But I knew the numbers. So, I even threatened to go down… “triga, lima, noll, noll…..”.

After a couple of minutes of exasperation, she gave up. Gave me a straight, stern look and said “Four dollars, sir?”.

I was stunned. I was not sure how to react once she had taken the fight to my home turf. Four dollars? Sure? By the way, that was for three sarongs.

The deal was done.

I was very satisfied.

Till now.

I have my calculator with me in my hand. Looks like I paid her more than what she had asked me to begin with!!

Arrgh!!

🙂 🙂

31 December 2017

Hilarious moment with my mother in law…

Here I am sitting at the breakfast table early in the morning trying to get a few of the blogposts away. Sharmila and the kids are sleeping. The in-laws are awake. I just finished serving the first cup of tea and sat down with them…

My mother in law, who has been keenly observing my laptop that I was using to post my blogs suddenly asked…

“Apple-er eto naam aachhey to apple-ta ordhek khaoa keno?
Oboshyo ordhek noy – ekta kamor deoa”

Basically, after watching the logo of Apple, she wants to know if Apple is such a big company, why is their logo half eaten?

🙂

25 December 2017

This happened on Christmas Day a couple of years back. It is still very funny!!

Excerpt from 2015 Dec 25th blog entry:

Awww!! It broke her heart to learn that Santa Claus is not real 🙁

I am not talking about my daughters. I am not talking of any of my nieces either. This is my seventy year old mom in India. During our early morning ritual – a phone call – today, she started arguing with me about Santa Claus. Much as I tried to explain to her that he is an imaginary character that parents tell their kids to deflect who got all the gifts, she steadfastly stood her ground that I had no idea what I was talking about. She felt I was getting confused because I forgot his real name – Nicholas!

“Ami bortoman-e porechhi onar asol naam Nikolas”. Apparently, a local Bengali newspaper is a lot more reliable source of information than her son of fifty summers. Not to mention half the stuff those local newspapers publish clearly have been picked from books found in the local library section visibly marked “Fiction”.

What absolutely took the cake – I mean literally – is when I had to tell her that cakes are not that big a thing during Christmas here. As an aside, anybody who has grown up around the parts of the country I did in India, exchanging Christmas cards and eating cake were the big highlights of any Christmas day. I come from a state where 30% of the population are Muslims and most of the rest Hindus. I grew up in a Christian school till tenth grade. Unlike the deep division in thoughts that I get exposed to today along the religious lines, life then, was all about celebrating all the religious festivals – regardless of which religion. Visiting the festively lit up parts of the neighborhood where Christians lived, buying Christmas cards and sending them to everybody and eating a whole lot of Christmas cakes was what Christmas always meant to us. Sometimes we would visit the well decorated local churches too.

But eating cake was a must. Against that backdrop, you can imagine the jaw dropping revelation that my mom was trying to process when I told her that cake is not that big a deal here. That was sacrilege to her. She finally but slowly gave her verdict which was basically suggesting that Christmas is really a British thing. Americans have not learnt about authentic Christmas yet 🙂

But for the mute button on the phone, I could have been in big trouble today. 🙂

She did agree on one thing before we parted – “Oi debdarur moto gachhta – ki jeno?” (referring to an indigenous coniferous looking tree). “Christmas tree”, I replied.

“Yes, Yes, Christmas tree… Christmas tree… I forgot”, she mused.
Score one for her fifty year old son!!! Take that “Bortoman”

22 December 2017

Existential question

As difficult as it might be to believe that I went to a party and stayed till midnight, it pales in comparison to the following jaw dropping realization I had on my drive back… Not a single selfie was taken during the whole party!!!

The well-conversed in Bengali parties in Atlanta area surely will sympathize with my confusion around an essential existential question …

If, during a party, not a single selfie was taken and posted in Facebook, did the party really happen?

🙂