Sunday, 1 August 2010

Namaste Hindustan

Ok ; don’t sigh at the completely unimaginative title – after Zaijian Zhongguo, it's inevitable that it has to be Namaste Hindustan. The title means Hello India, in Hindi.

Just as leaving a place is a cauldron of emotions, arriving at another, is equally so. Even if, and probably especially if, it's your home. Things are familiar. You know people. And yet it is an unsettling feeling. Things have changed. Some of your favourite places are gone. Some of the people you know have moved on. You are suddenly an outsider coming in, rather than an insider giving a knowing smile at the new arrivals.

As always, in such moves, it’s the small things that catch the eye. In the first few days back in Bangalore, these are what have really struck me
  • Top of the list has to be reading a newspaper with the morning cuppa. A real newspaper. I almost lovingly caressed it on the first day ! I am in the camp which is firmly of the opinion that “The Hindu” (a longstanding newspaper in India) with filter coffee is the only civilized way to start the day.
  • Switching on the TV ! Hooray. Only somebody who has been subject to CCTV (China’s television) for three years can understand this. Having said that, it really struck me how appalling the Indian news channels have become. Shrill and pathetic dredging of controversies all in the name of chasing eyeballs. Ugh !
  • Walking into a place to eat and not worrying about vegetarianism. Not having to explain that you don’t eat meat and getting blank looks.
  • Forgetting to tip. In China you don’t tip anywhere. In India you tip before you open your mouth. Having been spoiled in China, I have merrily been forgetting to tip and I am sure I have been subject to the finest collection of curses behind my back.
  • Surprisingly, the confusion between right hand drive and left hand drive. I am still walking around to the wrong side of the car !
  • Feeling scared of prices, because the Indian rupee is valued lower and hence you pay hundreds of it for anything. Used to paying tens of RMB, it's all feeling “expensive”. Illogical, I know. My irrational solving of the irrational thought is to pay by credit card, so I don’t feel the notes slipping by !!
  • The phone goes tring tring. I get a Hello instead of a WAI !!
  • Writing a cheque ! There are no cheques in China. Somehow the old world cheque seems comfortingly familiar.
  • Getting junk SMSs which I can actually read !! China does not have a “Do not Call” policy, so on an average you get one junk SMS every 5 minutes. I couldn’t read it, of course, so I must have deleted a zillion messages without reading (tip to mobile phone makers – one touch deleting of SMSs would be a great functionality). Here I get junk SMSs every 5 minutes all right, but I can read the blessed thing.
But above all, there is the feeling of opening Blogger without hunting through interminable proxies. The feeling of actually writing the post on the Blogger editor itself. The feeling of playing around with the Blogger features, limited as they are. I never thought I would extol the virtues of Blogger, which is just an average blogging platform, but ......

Is good to be back home.


A journey called Life said...

Welcome back!!

Totally with you on point 1,2,4 and 6..
Can understand your joy about the last point as well, something, a whole lot of us take for granted..

Wishing you happy times at home..

RS said...

Aaaah, the joys of reading the Hindu early in the morning, esp. the Magazine on every lazy sunday....

Here's wishing many trips for vegetarian meals, and a strong memory for tipping :)

zeno said...

Forget the SMS,you are yet to experience the calls! You are the first person to say those junk SMS as the blessed ones!
You should especially watch out for Arnab Goswami and Sagarika Ghose! [I havent seen them in action, yet i hear a lot about them]

Anonymous said...

singara chennai ungalai anbodu expect pannugirathu :-)

Sandhya Sriram said...

first time in my life, and this should be the last time, i actually guessed what your sunday post will be. i have been expecting and guessing the whole week on what are those 5 things which you are gonna write about your home coming. i was definitely expecting you would write about the new channels (given that you have been pampered by BBC radio to high quality no nonsense news so far). i was also expecting you would write about being out of the Great Firewall of china. but the other ones were amazing. how small things make a big difference - really!!

i was wondering whether your title would be English or tamil or maybe kannada. but Hindi is nice. you have embraced all of us waiting back here for you with just the title

Welcome home !!

exkalibur666 said...

Hi Ramesh..welcome home.. :)

Ramesh said...

@AJCL - Thanks so much. Yes, the value of commonplace things becomes apparent only when you don't have them.

@RS - Funny thing is , as a child I hated Hindu. Staid old newspaper. Now that I am staid and old myself, I can relate to it !!

@Zeno - No No, I have no love for junk SMSs. Its just that there is a small pleasure being able to at least read them !

@Gils - Varukiren thalaivare! Ticket vaangi readiya irunga (Devikalakku !)

@Sandhya - Oh you are so kind actually looking forward to the drivel I dish out. Kannada gothilla. In Tamil, and I would be shot by mannine maga. So Hindi only choice !!

@exkalibur - Thanks. Where, by the way are you ??

kiwibloke said...

welcome back. I guess you will miss the net nanny!! Have you started driving - some advise, get yourself an automatic car, I burnt two clutch plates in the first seven months back here.

Deepa said...

No matter how crazy India is, its a different thing to get back home! In namma bengaluroo, you only must be getting on to the wrong side of the car, but should not be a problem once you are behind the wheels, any empty lane should be yours!

The news channels well, you'll have more material on the lines of your previous blog- The pampered attention seeking child one! Don't miss out on Ms. Sagarika Ghosh (like zeno said), her news is her opinion and her guests aren't allowed to carry any of theirs inside her studio!

But yeah, everything said and done, home is home! Sometimes I even miss the canteen food in Bangalore, even though I have once moved the cooks aside and cooked my breakfast myself in that little fast food corner upstairs, out of disgust!

Have a good time! :)

Ramesh said...

@Ravi - Oh yes, preferably a car that drives itself !

@Deepa - You did that ?? - evicted the cook and did it yourself ??? Phew. I thought girls couldn't cook :):):).

Btw, I know its a dumb question, but who is Sagarika Ghosh ??

Chennai Vibes said...

Welcome Back Ramesh. Incidentally one of the important thing you have missed in your blog is that you are no longer in good old Bangalore but in our won "namma bengaluru". I can understand the food aspect as first thing I do when I come back from a trip is to gorge on rice and sambar.. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

BTW: Sagarika is a news anchor from CNN IBN. A pretty looking bongi lady at that....:)

Anonymous said...

avvvvvvvvvv....thala...sagarika gosh teriatha!!! vanathathulenthu neenga news channelay paakalaiya!!!! esp cnn ibn :) tho their news are crap..mute poatu paarunga :D

Durga said...

Ah! The joys of being back home! There are some pleasures you can derive only while in India. No matter how class the lifestyle outside India maybe, these small things like you mentioned really make your heart swell with happiness. It's the feeling of complacence that you get in India that is irreplaceable. Welcome back home Ramesh! :-)

Vishal said...

Indeed Namaste Hindustan! Absolutely apt title for someone returning back to the homeland after a long hiatus.

Reading a newspaper with the morning cuppa. Awwww... almost indispenable thing to do! Very nice to be back doing few basic things that characterize our country. Very special!

Welcome back home!!! Will try to bridge the gap of few thousand miles very soon so that I could meet you!

@ Sandhya - you echoed my thoughts. Amazingly amazing! :-)

Vinod said...

"Bengalooru shehar mein aapka haardhik swaagath hai"(For the benifit of non Hinglish readers, it means - you are most welcome to the city of Bangalore). Its must have been sweet music to your ears when the flight attendant must have said those words this time around :-)

Welcome back Ramesh. Happy to have met you today and to have been able to share a few lovely moments with you.Hope to catch up again soon.

Deepa said...

At that point in time I wouldn't have called myself a cook either, but that guy gave me some egg bhurji in the name of Fried Egg. So I thought I should just go in and teach him. That indeed fixed my breakfast straight for the rest of the days! :D

exkalibur666 said...

hi ramesh I am based in chennai but keep travelling.

Ramesh said...

@Chennai Vibes - Stop gorging on sambar and rice !!

@gilsu - This lady seeems to be having some sort of a cult following. I never thought news readers were worthy of any adulation .....

@Durga - Thanks Durga. Very true.

@Vishal - Thanks. Yes, the coffee (or tea) tastes infinitely better with a newspaper in hand !!

@Vinod - Lovely to catch up with you too.

Priya Ganesh said...

Welcome back!! We know you miss China, but we are glad to have you back.
It just takes these coming back home to make us realis what we miss in the first place. How was the joy ride around Blore traffic? did you ever see a traffic policeman at all??

zeno said...

cult following yes, adulation i doubt it! Even vijay has cult following ;) No problem you can ask who is vijay and shall mail you some awesome youtube links :P :D
and BTW sagarika is a stephenian, oxonian and a rhodes scholar. yeah you all read it right!

emma said...

Hi Ramesh, welcome back. :-)

It is indeed good to be back home.

Ramesh said...

@Priya - Actualy the Bangalore traffic seems better than what it was three years ago. Certainly there's some improvement to be seen. And some "mamas" are visible these days.

@zeno - Now, you are a walking treasure trove of information. How on earth did you know all that ??

@Emma - Thanks. Will catch up with you one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to India Ramesh. Though I send this message from hundreds of miles away from the homeland. You know what you are doing. You are creating havoc inside me.With this post. Ahhh the smell of the fresh newspaper.LOL @ CCTV. It is like having to watch C-Span here. Though sometimes C-SPAN is not bad. SMS in India can be funny. You get songs too. Did you have a Chinese song as your ringtone ?? Good Luck Ramesh and soak it all in. Even the curse words from behind your back.

Ramesh said...

@blogueur - Thanks. When its your turn to make a similar post, you will make a masterpiece out of it, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Haha, mingzhi, huanying hui jia! It's so interesting to read your blog about the return back to India and I start to think what will I feel when going back to China next year. I hope the sweet memories of China will always be with you. --xiao zhang from Bangor

Ramesh said...

Ni hao xiao Zhang. wo hen gaoxing to see your comment. ni mang ma ?
Too early for you to start thinking of going back. Become a good Brit (learn to say Pip Pip, Toodleoo and such other words !!)

No doubt at all, the memories of China will never go away. Especially because of the wonderful friends I made like you.

Connecter said...

Welcome back to the place you belong to... Its always an inspiration for people like us to see you and happy to spot you while you were walking down on whitefield main road..

Ramesh said...

@Connecter - I've been scratching my head as to the face behind this intriguing identity !!!

Thanks very much. Did you really see me in Whitefield ??

patricia said...

Hello Ramesh,

A Very Warm Welcome back to Bangalore and India ... by chance came across your blog. Trust all is well with you and family. I am still on my own (private practice) and currently undergoing training to become IFRS Certified (in a way, back to school too).

Ramesh said...

@Patricia - Thanks Patricia and wonderful to see you here. All, well, you are becoming a domain expert - IFRS and all !! Mail me your contacts on the email I have on my profile - not mentioning here just to avoid spam. It would be great to catch up.

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