My Opinion of India that I have come back to.

We returned back to India ( it had been three months ago) after staying in US for 14 years. The move is for work reasons and also to spend some time in India, get the kids exposed to what India is , what grandparents and family means etc. In this move we actually had to give away lots too, a fantastic pet ( GIGI I hope you are doing well), wife had to give up a career. So far things are going well. Bangalore is a city where things are happening all the time.

You get everything that you get in India. But some days can get frustrating. Like the last evening, we drove to this crazy part of the city called Brigade road to see if we can get some decent burgers. A seemingly easy task in the US, it look us a good 30 minutes or so to find the parking, walk through the so called clean streets of the city only to reach this restaurant that was supposed to serve burgers to find they do have a fantastic buffet but no burgers. Our patience was running our by now , so we settled for a lavish buffet instead of what we really set out to eat.

Jobs are in plenty, people do have money, there is better connectivity that US and so materialistically, we are even better than US. And the biggest gift of all the
Press wala”

Presswala

whose courtesy I get to wear everything clean and for a small fee.

You know that Indian Population is exploding when

  • You go into a elevator and there is a person waiting to take you up the elevator ( called Lift here)
  • When you go to a parking lot and there is a guy waiting at the automated machine where you take the parking ticket. All he does is take the ticket and give it to you.
  • You are eating in the restaurant and the waiter is always waiting to make sure he can serve you as soon as you finish.
  • People in general are very helpful, even more so than you want them to be. Driving is more like a big boy game. If you have the guts, keep moving on . Round abouts are my favorite. People block one another completely, and then take the time to roll the window down to shout at each other. But once i knew how to stop worrying about being in the traffic, it has been smooth. We have a small car ( one that looks like its back has been cut) but it can get through any bangalore traffic in seconds.

    The missed call Syndrome

    This can truly only happen here. There are no voice mails in India on cell phones. The only way you let someone know that you called is to SMS them. Buying a cell phone here is more important that brushing teeth. So when you meet someone and ask thier number the immediate answer is ” Swalpa missed call kotbide” meaning can you give me a missed call. Missed call is the act of calling someone on the phone so that they can store them in the contact.

    Swalpa Adjust madkole ( Please adjust a bit ) Syndrome

    Bangloreans are notorious at this. Example You ask for a coffee in a restaurant, the waiter forgets you needed coffee and brings tea. Instead of saying “Sorry let me get you the cofee” , the answer is “Swalpa Adjsut Madkole”

    Idli Vada – Oh no

    In the morning all the hotels serve, the standard combination of Idli, Vada Sambar, Vada Sambar, Idli Sambar. etc.

    IVL
    Whatever happened to my bagels, fruit cups. Yogurt etc. I think the Bangaloreans gobble up more idlis just in this city compared to the entire world – bangalore put together.

    But what bothered me the most is

    1) The big gap between the middle class and the poor. The rich are a class of thier own. The average Banglorean Driver still makes 6000 Rs a month ie 133 dollars a month. While the guy who the driver drives around makes 100 times more. Labor comes cheap. A carpenter in US would cost me an arm and a leg, not here. I can get one person to help me get up, one to brush my teeth, one to give me bath( well may be not), one to feed me, one to drive me, one to work for me , one to sleep for me.Heck what the hell am I supposed to do. But these folks work damn hard and yet get paid peanuts.

    2) The Cruelty and coldness to animals.

    Not one day goes my when my family shouts at me for going near a stray dog whose feet is injured, feet may not be there. These dogs are all over and so are cows . But since people don’t know what to do with them they start throwing things at them. Often they get hit due to a careless driver.

    3) People lack civic sense.

    Trash all over except inside their homes. No soap anywhere in any bathrooms. Not even in the so called International schools. People just don’t care. Where is the time to care. When in doubt mess up , is the attitude. This is not just the uneducated, event he so called Educated class does the same.
    Fortunately there is reasonably well done trash pick up service. But the people in those trucks handle trash with their bare hands. Oh enough of cribbing , Vibhu you may say:)

    4) There are a lot of freak accidents that need not happen.

    Every day there is some of the weirdest accidents happening. Today was a guy getting killed as he was thrown from the bike after dropping kid as the car in front of him abruptly stopped and the guy in front of him opened the door. The girl who died a few weeks back as a wall collapsed on her due to bad construction etc.

    At the same time the health care system if you can pay is fantastic. Cheaper and at PAR with USA.

    I think every Indian living abroad / otherwise has a moral responsibility to do something about these four things. I am still trying to figure out where i should help.

    When I think back of the issues I saw when I went to US many years ago those were more like

    1) I dont know how to use the phone, or the coffee machine or to take the freeway etc.

    The other way round coming back the issues are a lot deeper and something worth thinking about.

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