Monday, July 31, 2006

Through the Westerner's eye

I have been reading up on three different westerners' (Two Australian and one British) experiences in India. Three very different people, one works for ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) the other two I am not really sure of.

Three different perspectives, just one view. India is dirty, India amazes them.

The first one is a book titled 'a billion voices' by Phillip Adams who hosts a program on ABC Radio. Writes Phillip in his first chapter about India where he is describing his travel from Mumbai to Delhi by train, "Indians describe India as a land of a billion anarchists. Yet there seems to be an equal number of bureaucrats. The entire nation is locked in an endless conflict between spontaneity and rigidity, between creative chaos and the claustrophobic of regulation. But perhaps the anarchists are winning.", how apt.

Jamie (I hope I got the name right) decided to retire at 35 and travel in India, in his decision to live in India he says: "I’ve never been to any other place that has affected me so deeply. It’s beautiful and horrific, funny and appalling, fragrant and rotten to the core, virtuous in spirit and sick to it’s very soul, sublimely pure and utterly, utterly corrupt. Simultaneously. I love it and hate it. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place." I hope he finds more wonders, unfortunately he does not like Hyderabad(My home town) much.

Tim of the flashpackers blog (at writes this about why travellers get sick so often when in India, "Well in a word, its because India is filthy, and understand me here, I don't mean just your run of the mill filthy, I mean FILTHY. There is more concentrated filth here than in New Scotland Yard. I honestly think it is the most filthy place in the world, if not the entire universe." I am not sure about this though, a billion people don't get sick everyday or every other day even. May be it is just the food that doesn't go well with them.

Good reads all, I would recommend these to any one who, like me, is trying to discover his real identity while outside India.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Melting Pot called Melbourne - Part II

My friend and I hit upon a Japanese restaurant yesterday. Japanese food would not appeal to Indians simply because it is not too much spicy. That is not a reason to ignore the subtle tastes that the Japanese and mostly Oriental food presents.

Tomodachi (Japanese for friend) was the name of the place. Japanese restaurants usually have Sushi trains where Sushi dishes keep going round on a conveyor belt on a large table. Colour coded plates means they know how much to charge on each picked up plate. Sushi is usually raw fish wrapped in sea-weed with rice. Some sushis have chicken, beef or pork but these are usually cooked.

Takoyaki are fried balls of Octopus meat. I first tasted Octopus in a Chinese dish, being overcooked and hence becoming rubbery in that case. But didn't know that Octopus meat is this tasty. In this instance it was cooked in the right way and was too irresistible to stop at just one plate.


It's deep fried pork served with rice. Like Indians Japanese food(and for the most part, Chinese food)is served with rice. But unlike us, they do not have curries to go with it.

I do not usually like to eat Pork, but tried this nonetheless and I thought it was chicken, because it was cooked so nicely that there was no smell of pork, nor it was too hard. It was crisp and made just right.

This is a Korean rice dish served with our choice of Chicken or Beef. I ordered the Chicken version. Under the egg, there a variety of veggies, including carrots and also sprouted beans along with Mushrooms.

For the desi hot taste the red sauce that was served was some kind of chilli sauce, which when tasted by itself would be like playing with fire, but when taken in small quantities with the rice was really tasty. Miso soup (on the top) is served with most Japanese food, or so my fried said.

While real good Japanese food is hard to find, Tomodachi was a good place to enjoy Oriental food. It may burn a hole in your pocket, but it certainly is good for your stomach and for your taste buds.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Waiting for Spring

Morning: When already late leaving for work, I discovered that there is frost on the windshield. Wipers with water did not do the trick, nor did using hands (gave me frostbite). I thought hot water would do the job, but decided against it, my knowledge of simple physics gave me the momentary flash of a fright that the glass might expand and break. Bottled water washed the frost away, but brought fresh frost on the window. Water with a cloth to wipe it off took care of the business.

Afternoon: The sky was clear with warm sunshine, it wasn't even cold in the shade. If one landed in Melbourne at that time, he would be forgiven for thinking it is spring.

Evening: Mild fog with chilly winds, no sign of warmth. About to get colder.

That is a perfect example of the weather in Melbourne, always unpredictable, so full of pleasant surprises. No wonder they keep saying it is like living with a woman and dealing with her moods. I am still waiting for spring though. I am a sunny-weather man.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 blocked in India

I interrupt my general blogging of Australia and how my life here is such a song to point out that in India our fellow netizens are being denied access to a few blogger websites.

While this type of reaction to the recent attacks in India are unique in a way that no other country came up with this brilliant idea of bringing the terrorists down to their knees. No increase in security, no concrete steps taken to bring the culprits to court, no strategic steps against the neighbour who perpetrates this. One swift step of information blockage and the terrorists are seriously affected now.

Thanks to the Indian Government. You have begun the cyber war against terrorism. Citizens of India, do not expect any more innocent blood to flow.

Rediff News article
Bloggers Collective
Protests by Bloggers

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sad Day for India

Another sad day for India. Such cowards who will not think twice before killing the innocent. Hopefully Indian government works on this and prevent future attacks, may it not just remain a hope.

See - and for comments and help. Thanks to Alfred J Prufrock.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Coming home

We NRIs have a huge problem. Coming home to India to visit. Now, coming back to India on a permanent basis is a different problem altogether, one that I haven't got the luck to experience yet. But visiting itself is a project in itself. It is an obstacle course. Preparation is mandatory.

One question all and sundry pose, "When are you visiting?". The phone calls are replete with this question, not once, everytime. The answer: well, if it only is that easy. Old friends and acquaintances ask the same question here as well. "When are you going to India?", nice topic starter that.

Firstly, there is the timing. When does one come? Summer in India: too hot there, Summer here: tickets too costly. Does one have enough leave to make the visit a longish one? Does one have enough money to get along?

Then there are the relatives and more relatives. They mean well, the relatives. But I am not really sure when they expect some gifts from Phoren (desi slang for foreign). Most gift material is available in India anyway, one can find anything that is sold here, except for the 'Made in India' tag paid in dollars. If only they could understand.

It takes a bit of showing off in India for us NRIs, huge expectations of it. So, when we speak without the accent or don't go clubbing when in India, we haven't learnt much. It is readily taken care of by wearing open-toed shoes, 3/4th pants and following traffic rules when driving. Atleast we get noticed. One has to remind oneself that the food in the restaurants in a bit too hot than what one is used to. When ordering Biryani one has to roll the 'r' to make sure they understand.

The most worrying prospect of visiting India are the hosts at the airport, they have to be kept happy. But no one is not really sure how. They seem to be doing their job well, when all at once they corner you with one of the bylaws in page 563 clause (ii) b. Then the machinery stops. It has to be oiled now; Dollars need to be spent; Cursing is optional with more dollars lost, will not get you through sooner though. The process is reversed when these very hosts are seeing you off.

One of the most shameful times is when one has to oil such machinery, principles need to be broken and one has to be business like in these dealings, how much is enough to get through? Once one gets through, you meet family and dispose your gifts, worry that the traffic has gotten worse since your last visit, show off as an NRI and then wonder if it was better to wait a bit longer to get some more leave. And try not to miss your home in the process.