06 November, 2011


"There are two great days in a person's life - the day we were born and the day we discover why."
~William Barclay

Sometimes I feel like it is difficult for me to write, because I want whatever I write to be extremely good (even if it's not I try). I can compare this feeling to a quote from Elizabeth Bennet speaking about Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, that I am "unwilling to speak, unless [I] expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb." Haha, alright, so an exaggeration, but still a good comparison. Has anyone noticed I will bring up Jane Austen at every possible opportunity? 

Friday night I went out for a double birthday celebration with work colleagues at a place called F9. Another nice spot, with great outdoor seating and good food and drinks. Somehow at every out of office gathering with my coworkers singing seems to usually commence at some point, and hookah is brought out. I was even entreated to sing a bit, and for that I apologize that I'm really not a very good singer. Although, it would be fun to play a tune on my guitar if I had it here. It's nice to see people more relaxed out of the office. 

A few dessert places I have had food from are Naturals (my favorite ice cream here), Cream Stone, and The Chocolate Room. I've also had food from more American places, like Quiznos, Subway, and Pizza Hut. Although the food options at these places have much better vegetarian options than in the US I must say! There is more than one sub at Subway and Quiznos that is vegetarian (the rest in the US always have meat), which I have to say is nice for a change, and they use really good spices in them.

It's a real task trying to keep living quarters relatively bug-free here. It still grosses me out when I find bugs I've never seen before. Since I grew up in a colder climate, I would say Minnesota's bug situation is very mild compared to many places around the world. Here there are more bugs, larger bugs, grosser bugs, and then there's the lizards, too. Did I mention bugs are everywhere? 

I've had some very interesting conversations with people here about marriage. And it almost blows my mind how different the concept of marriage is in India. It's not the norm to have a love marriage, and arranged marriage is by far most typical. This is gradually starting to shift, I think love marriages are becoming more acceptable by families, but the current social norm is an arranged marriage within your own caste. The urban cities are more liberal minded in this, but I've heard situations can turn violent in rural areas if a woman marries a man below her caste without her family's permission. It is expected that by the time a girl is about 26 and a guy about 30, that their families should look for a someone for them to marry (it used to be that couples would get married much younger I've heard). It is not expected that a couple "fall in love" before they get married, but they will be able to meet several people that their parent's find and approve of, and then if they talk and like each other, then they might get married. I've heard a few stories of people who have wanted to get married to someone that their parents don't approve of, and it kind of breaks my heart that that means they can't get married, or if they do risk being cast away by their family. I think that the status of women has really become much better in India now, as it is very common for females to go on to higher education and work, and in my office there are a lot of women working. I've also heard that Hyderabad is one of the safer cities to be in India, people have told me Delhi is unfortunately not very safe. But it is also fairly common, although becoming less so, that women will not work after they are married, or not be permitted to work by their marriage contract. Here's my opinion on all this marriage business from Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter by JK Rowling: "It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!"

But I have also tried to explain that there is almost the opposite pressure in America on marriage, although I would say it's more accepted not to get married at all in the US than India. There is an expectation that people will find a perfect love marriage, and then live happily ever after. This "fairy tale" fantasy is exactly how many Americans want marriage to be. And there is still pressure from families to get married and raise a family with an acceptable partner, with similar beliefs, values, education, etc, except that it is up to you to find your own partner. But there are also fewer demands and expectations from the couple's families on the marriage. Still, I'm not sure if the US has it exactly figured out if you look at the 50 percent divorce rate or so. Everywhere you go, there are societal pressures to live a certain way, it's just that those societal pressures are different depending on the culture, although I would say the US has a little more leniency on this issue.

I also learned this weekend that up until about 15 years ago it wasn't very common for people to have a landline phone unless they were rich (remember this was before the mobile phone sprung into popularity). I was talking to someone who had never used a phone until about 8th grade (or 8th class as they say here). I really can't imagine that, as having a phone has been commonplace for everyone in America for decades. But now, basically everyone in India has a cell phone, and minutes are extremely cheap, so having a mobile is very affordable. 

Last week I visited a coworker's house that was pretty amazing, encompassing white marble, glass,  spectacular chandeliers, custom artwork, and a lift. This was one of the most amazing houses I've been in in the US or India. It was a fun girls night with a couple coworkers. First we got fed with home cooking until we were stuffed, then watched a Hindi movie called "Kaminey" (in English "The Scoundrels", I watched with the subtitles so I could understand it) which actually surprised me how good it was. I was expecting what I conceive of as a Bollywood movie with singing and dancing. This was more of an action movie with a great plot, which also had some singing and music in it. I also learned from this movie that a "crore" is 10 million. In India, the numbering system is different than in the US, and makes more sense to me once I looked up how the commas work in India's numbering. 

10,000,000 = 10 million = 1 crore
100,000 = 100 thousand = 1 lakh 


1,00,00,000 = 1 crore (100 lakhs in a crore)
1,00,000 = 1 lakh

Someone asked me if people have heard of India in the US, and really, I hope expectations about the US's global knowledge aren't that low. Yes, I believe nearly everyone in America has at least heard of India, even if they don't know much about it, I mean, the country does have the second largest population in the entire world!

Cheers for now.

"Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."
~Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

1 comment:

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