Monday, January 15, 2007

Through the eyes of an FOB - II

This is second in the series of my experiences as an FOB. This is what I have learnt about social mores and other rules in this part of the world:

  • When you cross someone or meet someone’s eyes – its customary to greet the person – even if you don’t know them. Try doing this in India – and people will think you have truly lost it.
  • If that person seems to be from the Indian subcontinent – keep your eyes down and continue walking. If you make the mistake of greeting this person – you will either be met with a cold stare or that person will just plain look through you.
  • The second floor – is really the first floor, the ground floor is the first floor.
  • When visiting a non-desi, its not required to take your shoes off. They will wonder whats wrong if you begin taking off your shoes at their door.
  • If a non-desi calls you for dinner – make sure to ask what time. Dinner is generally served between 6 and 7. Do not make the mistake of landing fashionably late – or by Indian Standard Time – truly no food will be left for you.
  • A ‘Hi! How’re you doing?” by someone is not an invitation to tell him/her your woes.
  • You call your friends'/colleagues' parents as Mr or Mrs ABC. Not uncle and aunty.
  • In the US – you use Fahrenheit and miles, not Celsius and kms. 27 deg C is really hot while 27 deg F is sub-zero.
  • There is no such thing as MRP – you have to scan the weekly flyers to know which stores have better deals on which items – even branded items go for much less with deals.
  • You do not put your clothes to dry on the porch, balcony or patio. Tying a string and hanging your towel out to dry is a no-no too. No really! If you don’t believe me, check your lease agreement.
  • You cross the roads only when the signal tells you – and that too only on the cross walk. Unlike in Mumbai – you just dart across the road if you judge the car will reach after you have crossed.
  • Traffic rules are meant to be followed. If you don’t – you will be caught and fined. To know what happens in India – see Twisted DNA’s version.
  • If you are driving on a small side-road, it’s customary to let the pedestrian pass first. If you are a pedestrian wait for the driver to signal you to pass. In India, the driver is the king of the road.
  • If you see a desi driving a car, even on the side road – step back – he’s not going to let you pass. (Stop yelling you guys – this is personal experience!) If he does let you pass – he deserves the ‘falling to the ground’ salute.
  • If it’s a woman driver – take 2 steps back. She’s going to stop – but she’ll misjudge where you are and you don’t wanna come under the car.
  • If it’s a teenager – hang back as far as you can. This is true for Mumbai too, I guess.


At 6:33 PM, Blogger Mumbai Guy said...

That misjudge from female driver is actually very much true. A friend of mine was teasing another friend(female driver) by standing in front of her car. Female driver too got into tease act but she could not judge the distance between car and friend in front. Result - Friend in hospital promising never to stand in front of female driver.

btw, Nice write-up.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Fuzzylogic said...

I loved this post!
"If that person seems to be from the Indian subcontinent – keep your eyes down and continue walking"-very true but I do wish it wasn't so,I am yet to see a fellow stranger desi who would smile back!

"You do not put your clothes to dry on the porch, balcony or patio"-Lol,I had a hard time explaning this to my mom who came here for a visit and was curious why no one dried their clothes that way and why she couldn't just tie a string and hand her clothes!

"You call your friends'/colleagues' parents as Mr or Mrs ABC. Not uncle and aunty"-it took me some time to get used to this,we are so used to calling everyone uncle and aunty in India and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from uttering this whenever I met any white friend or collegue's parents:)

But I do love the traffic rules here,its a pleasure driving,back in India I would be swearing away to glory and getting my BP raised by the time I would get from point A to point B.But I do miss that now occasionally:)

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Sanjay said...

hehe funny post..loved it.

If you see a desi driving a car, even on the side road
Heh I got cut off by this desi at Costco although I had right of way. I don't lose my temper anymore.

Oh ya I routinely thank people in India when I visit say at a shop or anyplace else and I get strange looks.

Oh and I dare not drive in India.

At 2:15 AM, Anonymous OrangeJammies said...

I object to the "woman driver" bit!!!
Okay, so I didn't let anybody pass..driver or ped...but misjudgement is a serious allegation! I OBJECT!!! I was a Road Ki Rani... 25K miles in the first year of learning to drive.. and not a ticket or an accident!

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Orchid said...

Funny and very true......"In India, the driver is the king of the road" I know!! with each passing year as more and more vehicles are added to the already chaotic Indian roads it becomes increasingly difficult to cross them when I go back for a vacation. As you can imagine, I provide ample entertainment to friends and family when I attempt to cross those roads.

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Vi said... my neighborhood people dry clothes in their patios all the time--no big deal. And most of my friends houses (they're white) prefer if you don't wear shoes (they wear slippers or house shoes instead) so you don't track mud into the house. Good post, though. =D

At 4:50 PM, Blogger noon said...

Nice post STS. Enjoyed it. Well another thing about desi dinner invites - you always end up asking - can I bring something - ofteni t ends up being a potluck...
Yeah true - you don't smile too often at desis bcz they often just give a quarter smile and walk past you - but it could be the dreaded fear of "what if he/she is Amway!"

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Drama Div@ said...

>> Traffic rules are meant to be followed. If you don’t – you will be caught and fined.

I thot rules are meant to be broken... :D

At 1:34 AM, Blogger SM said...

It's quite strange and funny how diametrically opposite the ABC's of etiquette.
Driving- Used to drive with ease in the US, even drove cross country from DC to LA with the hubby once.Was a pleasure. That I have been back here in India for 3 years now and haven't driven once is a testimony to the driving conditions.Insanity prevails.

At 2:01 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

hmmmm- interesting

u have been tagged- pl do it soon

At 2:43 AM, Blogger itchingtowrite said...

good one..

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Coffee said...

LOL!!! good one!!! I agree with fuzzy logic.... had a tough time explaing to people from india why you cant dry your towels outside!!!!! And if we sometimes see the clothes hanging outside, its like, this has to be an Indian family!!!!!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger @ said...

LOL!! funny post! keep the series coming :)

I never understood why strangers on the street have to smile and greet each other... Try doing this in India – and people will think you have truly lost, so true:

At 4:06 PM, Blogger @ said...

hey, wheres my comment???
blogger just eats it up at random

anyhoo...i wanted to say..that I love this series, so keep more coming! and so true about strangers greeting each other..why do they do that anyway?!!

At 2:30 AM, Blogger iz said...

Dude I'd like NEVER survive outside India!

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Alan said...

We always kick our shoes off when entering our house. There's always a pile of shoes near the front door.

The local Indian grocery store is often crowded, especially on weekends. I often get a nice smile from the desi girls if our eyes happen to meet.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Oh yeah, very funny post!

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

Mumbai Guy: Welcome! For every Mumbai Guy-ish story - there is a good driver like Orange jammies :)

Fuzzy: You miss getting a high BP? My hubby just cant drive anymore in India - he says he gets the heebie-jeebies...

Sanjay: yeah - people in India just arent used to the 'thank yous' ...they do give u the weird look

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

OJ: ooops...angry OJ... O c'mon sweetie - you're the exception that proves the rule ;)

Orchid: it really feels so much safer to cross roads here...... India roads crossing is like doing an obstacle course :)

Vi: hey you know what Vi - in Montreal - everyone hung their clothes out to dry in their yards..... it was a done thing...somehow in the US - its a big no-no

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

noon: O yes - the Amway dread - thats what keeps all of us from being friendly with another.

DD: Welcome! if i had to break traffic rules - you think I'd have come to the US - India wud have kept me far happier ;)

SM: Its so true - my hubby just cant drive in India now - the one time he tried - he was shaking all over...

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Something to Say said...

Art: Your tag is due next. promise:)

itchy: Thanks

Coffee: But you know, in Montreal everyone hangs their clothes out to dry...not just, I wonder why?

@: Your comment is very much there....and thanks!

alan: yeah, maybe I mis-read that one. Everyone wants clean carpets....

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Usha said...

Interesting cultural differences. But in some ways what you say about desis seems to justify that good old statement " you can take an Indian out the country but not India out of him."
I suppose senior desis should have an orientation session for the freshers to help them pick up the rules.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous That Armchair Philosopher said...

hehehehe. i loved both parts of the FOB take :)

I wonder why most Indians do things the way they do though.

At 4:22 AM, Blogger hedonistic hobo said...

the woman driver thing was a bit sexist and unnecsessary and look at the men jumoing up to say 'so ture' because they knew A woman. sheesh. but here's a secret. europe has mrp's. i found it exasperating that prices in the states didn't even include tax.

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