In a lot of the larger malls and restaurants here there is a security booth similar to airport security.  There’s at least a walk-through metal detector, and usually someone with a hand-held to frisk you down before you step inside.  Sometimes there’s even a scanner that you have to put your bags through.

Ignorant American teenager that I am, I’m not really sure why or when they implemented these security measures, but I do know that all you have to do to circumvent them is to be a woman.

Indians are notoriously squeamish about relations between sexes, and if the company doesn’t have a female security guard, a separate line, and a curtained booth they won’t even look at you.

I can understand the female to frisk you, but why the booth? We all know terrorism is sexy, but does modesty extend to such lengths women can’t run an electronic device over the sides of another fully clothed woman in public view? It’s not as if they’re even thorough.  Most of them look like they been out there, running a black stick over people since 6 in the morning for the last week, for the past three years.  A cursory swish over your sides and you’re good to go.

Also, in that dark little closet, if it was a slow time of day, and I happened to be a terrorist, I could knock the woman out, walk away, and continue with my evil plot.  I would probably have at least 15 minutes to detonate the bomb, or rob the safe, or do whatever my plan entails.

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Typical Indian Advertisement

A strange thing about India is that everything is in English.  I understand that it’s the official language of the government, but even advertisements are in English! It seems odd to me, as a good number of people don’t really speak English, let alone read it, and a few are completely illiterate, even in their native tongues.  Wouldn’t those ads just go completely over their heads?

Also, most of the stuff that’s in English has quite a few basic grammatical and spelling errors that make for a good laugh.  For example:

“B.S. Enterprises” (Not really an error, per se, but still- not quite right.)

“It only looks amazing.  It’s mostly exclusive.” (Again, correct in wording, but it gives you pause.)

“The Mapple Inn” (They had a picture of a maple leaf on their sign.)

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Waiters in India have a different mentality than the ones in the U.S.  On the one hand, they are quite servile, most pull my chair out for me and lay a napkin on my lap, but out of those humble attentiveness springs aggressive qualities.  In their trembling desire to have you comfortable and enjoy the evening, they become quite over-enthusiastic, and ply you with services you neither need nor ask for.

I use the example of the chair and napkin, although I assume this is also done in America, and while I’m not fond of the practice (when someone pulls out my chair for me, I never know quite when to sit down, and usually end up sitting too soon and finding myself in an awkward, half sitting half squatting position.  And when they pull out my napkin, the movement of cloth in the corner of my eye startles me, and I shy slightly.  That, or a strangers hands are suddenly in my lap, because I didn’t notice the beginning signs of the napkin-manoeuvre, and a slight adrenaline rush is an unpleasant start to my evening.) I won’t blame the Indian people for its usage.

The attitude I’m talking about is that American waiters are usually trained to be unobtrusive, a school of thought I wholly agree with.  After all, you’re in the restaurant to enjoy the food and the company you’ve chosen specifically, not some pimply, simpering youth, bent on stuffing you like a pig.

My point being: if I want food, I’ll serve it myself, you don’t need to keep coming round and putting it on my plate.  And if I say I don’t want more Pad Thai, you can trust me on that.  I not lying to deprive you of the pleasure of serving me.

Nothing short of a tackle can stop some of the pushier waiters in serving you what they believe you should be served, all your objections an insult to their faith in their food.

Me: “No, thank you.”

Waiter: “Yes, just a taste, madam.”

Me: “No, no thank you, I’m not hungry.”

Waiter: [managing a quick feint and release past my upraised arm] “Yes, just so you can see the taste madam.”

One man had to force me to fill out a service response card where I had negligently left blank spaces.  Of course, as I was an American, unmarried, based in another country, all my family members across the globe, it was of the utmost importance that I tell them my birthday, my parents birthdays, my anniversary, my school, and my hometown, as well as leave extensive commentary on the service, food, and ambiance.  He carefully pointed out each question I had failed to answer, and stood over me for a moment to make certain I understood and got to work. I gave them a glowing review.

I suppose I am being unfair, these are only the upper-class waiters, inundated with the pomp and luxury of their high-class circumstances.  Sometimes it’s difficult for the waiters in the smaller “hotels” to bother with you and your money, preferring to stare into the distance, or whatever waiters do when they’re not helping customers.  One man seemed really quite put out that we were offering him business, sulking around as he prepared our drinks.

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Ellie and Dad’s first day in Hyderabad

We are in Dubai.  I wish we could get out of the airport and explore.  There are women with the full birka of course, and other sights to see, even in the airport.

Ellie and I decided to brush our teeth in the first bathroom we came to.  Men’s came first, so in I went.  Decidedly strange.  The anteroom was lined with wooden cubbies.  There were a pair of shoes in one of them, and a sign that said something about slippers.

I looked down at my own shoes with some hesitation, but continued on.  I passed a room on my left, I paused.  It was tiled like a bathroom, water fixtures too.  But no, something was wrong.  There were only low tiled benches around the perimeter and water faucets mounted low on the wall.  Hmm.  I moved forward looking down at my shod feet again as I crossed the threshold into a carpeted room.  I stopped abruptly.  I low humming or murmuring came to my ears.  On the far side of the room stood a well dressed a man with his pants conspicuously rolled up, showing his freshly washed bare feet.  He had his back to me and was praying.

I quickly retreated to find Ellie outside reading the sign more carefully than I had.  “Men’s prayer room”.


8:30 pm



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Eleanor’s India

It’s the end of December, Christmas Day. This is a brand new blog, and I’m happy to have found a blog site that doesn’t require a gmail account. The purpose of this blog is to update my friends and family of my status as I travel to India.

My mother suggested this form of communication, as she is worried about my welfare in a foreign country half way around the world that has no discernible form of health care or sanitation.

I finished my rabies shots a few months ago; they’re a series of three, each a week apart. Of course, those shots won’t protect me against mange, Typhoid, Polio, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephelitis, Malaria, and a host of other fascintating diseases and infections I was somehow not vaccinated for.

Because I have nothing else to write about and an unhealthy obsession with Bill Bryson is a common malady of my family, I’ve decided to research India with a fervor that can only be called slight.

Not that I don’t find Indian culture interesting; it is, highly. It’s just that I’m a natural procrastinator, and I’d rather be staring at the ceiling than doing anything productive.

My first impulse was to research the exchange rate between USD and INR, (Indian Rupee). Unbelievably, it’s $1.00-45.00. I was very happy when I read that.

More about India sometime in the future.

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