Okay, so I hear there's some interest in these pages. Apologies for not regularly updating them. Been travelling for work and had other stuff to sort out.
I've had to answer a lot of questions recently, while covering games in Delhi, Bangalore and Cochin, as to where I'm actually from, how I came to India, how I learnt Hindi, yadda yadda yadda ... but the most interesting one I got was 'whats the funniest incident you've had in India?'
Now there have been many, too many to recall even at the ripe old age of 26, but I'll try and sort out a few classics. Today on the way to work I caught an auto inside the Manipal Hospital compound as always (you never know what sort of autowala youre going to have to deal with each day here in Bangalore) and the chap who acknowledged my wish to go to MG Road with some sort of grunt looked normal enough. Except his auto chugged along at about 15 kilometres an hour down Airport Road as the rest of the world, cyclists included, whizzed past. Now I had actually left the house earlier than I needed to, so at first I just cranked up the iPod and said chalo, lets not let this bother you.
After about five minutes though I said boss, can we please step on it a bit, to which he turns his head slightly and mumbles something about having just put in new "borings" and that he'd had trouble last evening at 7pm when the auto gave him trouble, and that he had to drive slowly to test the "borings" out and that he couldnt have more than two passengers at one time. I didnt really get all of it but just said okay, thats fine.
Two minutes later the inevitable, but with a twist. Not how or when did you learn to speak Hindi, but why do you speak Hindi?
Now I've answered this question in a few ways in the past - and I've had more fun answering where I'm from, because based on the person's intellectual level and probability of running into them you can really have go wild - but today I said I'd been in Bombay and picked it up there.
No reaction. "You speak Kannada as well?"
"No, I dont."
"You do one thing. You get this book, from the shop, which teaches you Hindi and Kannada. Get this book. It costs thirty rupees. Buy it from the shop. You will learn in one year. Excellent Kannada and Hindi."
"You buy this book today."
"Okay, I'll will."
A brief moment of silence. I'm itching to hit play on the iPod.
"What are your office hours?"
Again, I just keep it simple, not going into the different shifts we have. "I go at around 9.30."
"When do you come home?"
"Thats good. You read that book for two hours a day, every evening, and in six months you will speak very good Kanndada."
And now, another common question asked by autowalas, I've learnt.
"Are you married?"
"Too early. There's time."
"How much time?"
A grunt. "And your brothers and sisters are married?"
"No." I dont bother to say my sister is just 21 and still in college.
"I've seen this with your type. Get someone, have fun, leave them and go to someone else. Why is this?"
"I have no idea." Whats my type anyways?
"No tell me, I've seen this plenty. Taking someone, having timepass, leaving them."
"I really dont know. Does it happen that much?"
"Yes, I've seen. Plenty. You should get married, have one person. Wife is life."
I start to chuckle but think better of it.
"You see .. whats your name by the way?"
"Jimmy? Okay okay."
"So you see, Im married, I have one wife."
"Well, thats just great."
"I dont need to go running around anywhere. Im set. If you go elsewhere you can get AIDS and then life is screwed."
Another pause as we come to a traffic light. "Where are you from?"
"Whats your jaat?"
Now he turns around and faces me. "Are you Muslim?"
Now I cant hold back a laugh. I collect myself. I just say the first thing that comes to mind. "Christian."
I'm glad he approves. The light turns green and we purr along towards my office.
"You get that book, okay? Buy it today."
"Yes, I'll do that."
Another pause, for a few moments.
"Theres more of your type out in Yellahanka."
"Yes, some 500 houses have been built out there. There's plenty of your type."
I nod and tell him to stop just ahead near the office gate. I pay him. He takes the money and puts it in his shirt pocket. Then he looks up.
"What did I tell you? Get that book."
And with that, he putters up the street.