Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unity in the diversity vol.2

Although so diverse, Indians are also among most proud and patriotic nations I have ever interacted with. They keep talking about how great India is, how wonderful their nature and cuisine are, how the most entrepreneurial and smartest people in the world are from India. And they truly manifest it, people have small flags in each car and house, they play national anthem before a movie starts in the cinema… and my favorite: they write “India is great on everything”. The picture you can see is an authentic picture of a truck I have taken. Apart from a typical: “Horn OK please” and “Stop Signal” you will also see Indian flag and “India is great” sign. Seriously, think about it - isn’t India great?!

Unity in the diversity!

India is diversity. 14 official languages spoken, 8 main religions being largely represented, food and weather change from state to state, people wear different clothes and have different lifestyles in different parts of the country. This diversity is very much noticeable in Mumbai, since it is the melting pot, the city where people from all the corners of the country come to look for jobs, to look for better future. Walking around you will see restaurants like: “South Indian treat”, “Punjabi dream” or “Goa Cafe”. You will see people celebrating all the possible festivals of all the religions, starting in August with Ganesha Festival (Hindu), Dassera (Hindu), Ramadan (Muslim), Diwali (Hindu) and concluding with Christmas (for all the different types! of catholics). I was seriously wondering how these all different religions can coexist here and I still don’t have a rational explanation for that, however it somehow works! What is even more interesting, whatever your religion is you tend to celebrate all these festivals! All of us were participating in the Diwali pooja (kind of a prayer organized in my office during Diwali) and now everyone is just crazy about Christmas, decorating the office, sending Christmas wishes, etc. Check out the clip I have just received today from one of my colleagues! It fully represents what exactly I am talking about! Jingle bells – Punjabi style!

video

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Environment!

Being in India, specifically in Mumbai while the talks on climate changes are being held in Copenhagen makes you reflect on the environment on a different level of consciousness. I was just discussing with some of my friends the other day, that although it’s China and the USA which are the biggest producers of CO2, in India you can actually feel how the polluted environment influences your life, everyday life.
Some of the phenomena I found quite interesting and alarming:

• The air has color – it is grey! You can especially see it in the morning, it looks a bit like a fog but it is actually smog. I have seen many pictures of smog in my life and I have learnt about it on my geography lessons but have never seen it in real. It is much more visible now, in the dry season. This is also why everyone blesses monsoon season – it seems to be washing away all the dirt of the city, all the dirt in the air.

• The air has taste! If you want to take a deep breath of a fresh air you will quickly realize you don’t want to do this again because the air is never fresh. Of course I talk about Mumbai, remote, green places and smaller cities are different but breathing deeply in Mumbai can actually cost you a serve headache.

• Temperature is increasing year by year! Imagine this – it is mid December now and the average temperature is still about 300 C! In the afternoon it is reaching even 350, becoming a bit cooler (250) in the evenings. If you talk to Mumbaikers most of them will tell you that they haven’t seen such a December yet! Obviously it is never cold in Mumbai but they would expect at least 150 -200. Nothing like this seems to be happening here this year. Let’s wait for January; hopefully it will bring some relief.

• Dust! The city is extremely dusty! Coming back from work the first thing I do every day is shower. After spending some 2 hours outside you can literally feel how dirty you are and how much dust is there on your body! No wonder the air is so dirty if there is just so much pollution and dust around!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food - driven culture!

This is how I call India! Everything is around the food here! You don’t know what to talk about – you can just start with “the best biryani I have ever had was at Hyderabad” and then it just goes on and on and on…! The first question I am being asked when someone meets me and realizes I stay here on my own is: “How do you manage with food? Do you cook or order? What do you eat?” Also, if you schedule a meeting with someone at 2 p.m. it is bound they will start the conversation with: “So, did you have your lunch already?” For me food has never been so important, I treated it more as “something that keeps me going” but after spending almost 6 months in India (!!) I have to admit I am becoming a bit of a foody! Luckily, we have a very nice canteen at the office, so I can easily have here my breakfast, lunch and even dinner if I stay longer at work!

Sometimes, when bored with canteen food we go out for lunch and during one of these lunches out I discovered a form of a very interesting “restaurants”. These are the places located at private houses, looking a bit dirty and not maintained properly, where you go and get the best home – made food ever! There is one of these places located very close to our office, the auntie (this is how we call the lady who owns the place and cooks there) always welcomes us with the smile, giving the full list of “day’s specials”. Great food, wonderful fish, prawns and chicken! If we feel like having lots of meat, this is where we go :) (At the canteen you will usually get only one non- vegetarian meal with some 2 sad pieces of chicken!) The food at auntie’s is obviously the cheapest ever! For Rs 100 (around 6 PLN) you can eat and eat and eat and eat…and she will keep bringing more! Yummy