20 October, 2011

USPS Mail & 5280 Feet

Yay!!! A couple of truly wonderful friends from the US of A sent me my first piece of mail in India which I received tonight via the US Postal Service. I can't even believe it. It was so great to have a few pieces of home sent to me, a few items and letters. Just grand, it really was a wonderful end of my day, and came at just the right time in my week.

My sketch from last weekend

I was told by many Indian friends to listen to Bryan Adams because he's "SO good!" and he seems pretty famous in India because he toured here. So, I looked him up, and I actually have heard his music before just didn't remember his name. The closest I can compare him to is either Celine Dion or Michael Bolton, in the genre of cheesy romantic 90s music. But, to each his own.

Also, this is totally random unrelated to India, but in researching the Bryan Adams bit, I came across this image of Michael Bolton, in his 90s hair glory. Then I thought, that reminds me of that self portrait of Albrecht Durer, a North Renaissance artist in the early 16th c. Just me or is there a resemblance?

Moving on. Now that I've gotten used to using the auto rickshaw system (called autos or ricks), I know what I need to say to be able to fetch my own auto. Basically, I need to communicate 3 things: sharing/metered auto, location, and price. I've also found that by speaking at least a minimal amount of Hindi the auto drivers are more reasonable, and realize I'm not completely ignorant about how autos work and pricing. Since I obviously look like a foreigner, they're very likely to try to jack up the price of a ride if I don't know how much it should cost. For example, a ride home from the office should be about 40-50 rupees if it's a personal ride, but often I'll be quoted 80-100 rupees, which I can try to negotiate for half or 2/3 the cost but is still more than what I should be paying. Now that I know how to take the sharing auto home, that is about 10 rupees on the part of the route I take. I get autos stopping by me when I am walking on the street all the time because I stand out, and they probably think that I'll pay more for a ride.

My line of questions to get an auto:
1) "Sharing?" (With sharing autos you pay per seat and ride with others, they have certain routes they follow so you need to know which one you're getting on. With metered autos they can take you anywhere but are more expensive)
2) Give location I want to reach. They will respond with a form of verbal or nonverbal yes or no to this if they're going there or willing to go there.
3) "Kitnaa?" ("How much" in Hindi. I have also learned to count up to 10 in Hindi in case they don't speak English, as well as various other small phrases to help me out). Once they answer this I decide if the price is right. If it is I get on if not I walk away and try another auto.

So, on to another topic: the Metric System. Pretty logical system right? And so easy to convert units, I mean, it really couldn't get any easier. 10 millimeters in a centimeter, 100 centimeters in a meter, 1000 meters in a kilometer, etc... In India, this is the measurement system that is used. Commonly distances are given in kilometers, speeds in kilometers/hour, weights in kilograms, and it is what everyone refers to. Although, I kept hearing the term "lakh" which I had never heard before, and apparently it is a unit of 100,000 that is used commonly in India.

So, why doesn't America use the Metric System? Excellent question. I was trying to explain the Imperial System's units to someone here (now basically the "American" System), and I'll do my best to give my readers the basics for those unfamiliar with it. As for common lengths and distances, there are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile. Usually for driving, distances are in miles, speeds in miles/hour, car fuel efficiency miles/gallon. A person's height is in feet and inches, weight is in pounds. As for common liquid measures and weights, there are 8 ounces in a cup, 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon. Seriously, I even have a hard time remembering it at times, because it is the least intuitive system that could possibly be devised. The only time I've ever used the metric system on a regular basis is in Science classes, and Track and Cross Country running.

Also, as readers may have seen me post both F and C temperatures, because the US is one of the few countries to still use F, as most have switched to C. Kind of interesting.

Fun little map I found online of countries that don't use the metric system, shown in red (the only 3 are USA, Liberia, and Myanmar), go USA!

Theek hai, Chalo Bye.

"On the other hand, you have different fingers." ~Steven Wright

1 comment:

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