Monthly Archives: December 2005

The meet that was 1

The IXth Delhi bloggers meet was held on 18th Dec’05 at Humayun’s tomb. The main highlight was the photography gyaan that all of us had to get from a fellow flogger (foto blogger, not the horrifying english meaning). Apart from that, the “I-see-dead-people” routine was much practised. The photography stint was followed by some history of the monument, followed by a meal at India Habitat Centre, followed by a photography exhibition at the same venue, followed by some tea from the local tea stall. An afternoon well spent. Here are a couple of pictures that I took as part of the photography gyaan absorption. Now if someone would me a pro membership at flickr, maybe I could make some more use of my gyaan :p.

Of sunshine and light, and all things bright

A rather adventurous journey is what I had on the way back from Helsinki to Delhi. I managed to somehow pack, stuff and run to the airport. In spite of my deepest desires to try out driving in Finland, I refused my Finnish colleagues offer to drive his car till the airport. At that time, all I wanted was putting an end to this business of getting back and I certainly didn’t want to take any risks. At the airport, the female who was assigned to me for check in was a completely different experience than what I had so far experienced when interacting with the Finnish. She was so rude that I began to doubt if she was Finnish at all. She was also adamant that I somehow reduce 3Kgs from my baggage or pay (gulp) 108 euros for excess baggage. Eventually when no amount of coaxing worked and there were just 20 minutes to take off time, I lightened my shoulder bag by taking out my handycam and putting it on my shoulder, and putting the smaller Canon camera I had, inside it and checked in the shoulder bag. In my rush, I forgot that it was a mere shoulder bag that I had checked in, with no locks, and an expensive camera inside. But it was too late to make amends. As soon as I got inside the plane (the last person to board), I contacted the air hostess, and explained the situ. She initially told me that nothing was possible, that things would be anyhow safe, but I know Indian airports better than they do. To cut a long story short, I had to take a risk and eventually, she talked to the pilot, who telexed the airport at Munich (where I had to change my flights), informed them that my luggage had to be offloaded instead of what was planned earlier, I had to check out, lock my bags etc, check in again in a short span of time, and board the continuing flight. In that bid, I hardly got time to acknowledge to myself that I was eventually leaving that place that had been home for such a long time. It still didn’t sink in, but when the plane took off, it did appear infinitely saddening. Eventually I dozed off, which was bound to happen,after spending those late nights, packing or checking out the night life. Suddenly I woke up with a start to lots of Finnish being spoken around me and I somehow got the feeling that I was in my living room (in the apartment I had in Helsinki) and had dozed off while watching TV. With another start, I realised, that this feeling of reality was also false and that I was in a plane where the passengers were speaking in Finnish. I dozed off again. This time I woke up to a kid in the front seat staring at me like anything. I guess staring has that power of making itself felt. I managed to raise a sleepy eyebrow and dozed off again, this time to be woken up by the air hostess telling me that Munich airport was nearing and that I had better be ready for the drill.

Lady luck eventually smiled on me that day, I eventually got my luggage (there was a chance that it would never turn up there), took out my camera, locked my shoulder bag with the extra lock I happened to have, and re-checked in. Phew. I was given to understand that the feeling that I was on my way back to India would eventually start coming in once I took the connecting flight to Delhi. No such thing happened. The crowd was less Indian, more German (could be due to Lufthansa’s relatively new flights in the Munich-Delhi sector). I was still thanking the air hostess in German. The so called Indian meal was still pretty European. With so many flights that I had hopped into, in the recent past, this flight hardly seemed different. In due course of time, I borrowed an Indian mag from an Indian lady. When I started reading it, all things Indian still leapt out at me – The model on the cover, the word “India”. Within two hours of reading all stuff Indian, I got fully soaked in the Indian experience, and eventually got the feeling that I had never left India in the first place! By the time it got to my normal time to sleep (around 1:30 am), it was already early morning in India! After several months I saw the sunrise and a vibrant sky. I felt as if I had never left Delhi in the first place. My Finland sojourn seemed like a distant dream.

I expected some culture shock to last for at least a week, since last time I got back from Japan after a stint of less than 2 months, it took me at least 3-4 days to get used to “the India that I imagined and the India that I saw”. This time I expected it to last much longer. Again, no such thing happened. The airport seemed much cleaner than the last time when I had been quite shocked at seeing paan stains all over the walls of an international airport, the place smelling like a urinal. But this time, the day I landed was bright and clear. The noise and the smells didn’t disturb me like I expected. The only thing that took me aback was the way ppl were driving (including my dad)- haphazard and too close for comfort. Walking down a street in the evening, where again the noise didnt bother me surprisingly, I soaked in the “aroma” experience and distinctly began making some good use of my olfactory senses. The smell of the winter evening breeze, the peanuts being roasted, the local stall preparing aaloo tikki, another one preparing ginger tea, the parks letting out their leafy smell, the balloon vendor smelling of helium, the smell of “raat kee raani” as I passed some of it, all filled me with much joy. But before I realised it, this got too much for my unprepared olfactory senses and I had a bout of allergic sneezes. This was a sureshot indication that I had “arrived”.

The times – they are achanging 10

It’s been quite some time since I posted here. I am back in India and it’s already going to be a month, since I am back. (Though I would continue updating FinnTimes). A month back, I had mentally thought about a number of things that would be different after being used to a different life for 5.5 months. Finally I am listing them down.

– Finally I would be able to drive after a gap of 5.5 months!
– I would also get leered at, something which I had gotten quite unused to.
– Finally I would be able to make some sense of the conversation happening around me (mostly).
– On the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to throw all caution to the winds and talk freely in Hindi, assuming at the time that no one else understood it.
– I would be able to get my hair cut and not burn a 115 Euro deep hole in my pocket!
– There would be some fragrances in the air (good and bad both), instead of an odourless environment.
– Finally I would be able to create a noise or generally be loud, without feeling guilty about it.
– I wouldn’t be able to go out late at night or alone :(..sigh.
– No mid night sun either 🙁
– There would be lots of home cooked food. Ok, I was cooking myself, but at least I wouldn’t have to cook for a change.
– I can not expect maps, information booklets, brochures at my beck and call at every place I visit.. sigh.
– I need to get rid of the habit of leaving things lying around in public places and expecting them to still be there when I am not looking.
– No more pets in all public transport or escalators or shops!
– Unfortunately, the short period of not seeing animals/ppl splattered on roads, comes to an end.
– I would finally spend in Rupees and reverse-condition my mind to feel happy with the Rupee to Euro conversion. Oh, 100 bucks? That’s not even 2 euros! Imagine what all I can buy within that!
– I can now get away with not following timings, not being punctual etc. :p.
– I can indulge in some late night shopping!
– I am apprehensive about tackling crowds, places and events like Pragati Maidan Trade fairs, etc.
– No more imported fruits and veggies in my diet. Mere desh kee dhartee sona ugle or ugle taazi sabji.
– Finally I can use a gas stove/grill instead of a hot plate. Ah, the joys of cooking with an instant temperature control!
– I can not expect insurance to cover every damn thing on earth, including things like damage caused by me to someone else’s property!
– I would miss saying “thank you” in multiple languages (changing quite frequently at that). I surely have had to suppress the urge to automatically utter “Kittos”.
– I can finally go to a beauty parlour without the risk of coming out eye brow less.
– I can finally watch some theatre (and understand the language) or just soak in some cultural experience.
– No more exquisite cakes, pastries, muffins, confectionary items at my beck and call :(.
– No more tracking the Euro’s progress in order to transfer money online. (This would happen only after the final umbilical cord called “submitting tax in Finland” is cut).
– No more looking out for events that the Indian community in Finland would indulge in.
– No more calculation of a 3.5 hour offset with the timezone. It’s the reverse now, actually speaking, but on a much lesser frequency.
– No more broadband :(. No more 5 hour skype calls, no more googletalk :(. Well, it’s possible here technically, but so far it’s not there in my life.
– Getting used to an English keyboard after a Finnish keyboard is BOUND to be difficult (it has been so far).
– No more globe trotting/checking out new destinations on weekends :(. Am going to be a koop mandoop (Frog in a well) now.
– No more of a relaxed lifestyle..sigh.. life is in the fast lane here.
– No more blondes in the view, no more looking out for ppl who possess Indian looks, no more trying to be friendly to such ppl, no more of “all things Indian, standing out or leaping out at me” whether in print, radio or TV.
– No more of learning Finnish, by watching sub titles on TV. I am surely gonna miss that.
– No more Finnish songs on radio :(. Sigh…
– No more sauna.
– Finally I would have some house help for cleaning, washing utensils etc.
– Now I would have to start thinking about petrol prices, after not thinking abt them all this while.
– Finally no one would assume that I am Spanish, Greek, Russian, Iranian and what not, instead of Indian!
– Onset of marriage season! Oh boy! Regular traffic jams and invitations everyday.
– Finally I would get tuned in to the Indian movie scene and media. No, it’s really futile trying it all through streaming.
– No more Euro salary 🙁
– No more BIG moon or sunset and stars at the same time in the sky. 🙁

All said and done, it’s great being back on the mother ship.