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Location: Penang, Malaysia

February 03, 2008

Welcome to India!

Swagat! Today is the end of my business trip in India and I will be taking a flight tonight back home. The title of this entry doesn’t look right. To some people, visiting India could be a nightmare but I think I am starting to get used to the life in India. For first timer, you might just hate it but after some time, you will start to think deeper, and then you associate things here to back home. Things works towards certain goals but the methods and approaches are different.

Again, welcome to India!!! Culture shock happens to almost everyone. One thing that many people can't tolerate is the traffic condition. As in my previous entry, I mentioned that the traffic here follows no rules except that they stop at red lights. People is driving very near to each other and psychologically, it invades your personal space and you feel that it is dangerous. True to certain extend, but your driver seems doesn’t bother much. You have to live with it.

So, the famous saying here is, "To survive driving in India, you need 3 things, good honk, good brake, and good luck!"

Then, you have different kind of food that you are not used to. Is it tasty? It depends on who you pose this question to. I love Indian food very much but, after eating for some time, my appetite has changed. I love greens, and I love meat.

Here in India, greens still mean it is fully cooked. You may find limited salad in the hotel, but it will be hard for you to hunt for salad outside. Again, there is exception. At certain tourist spots, people are selling freshly peeled cucumber sprinkled with a mixture of salt and chili powder. Succulent is the word I would say, and pretty cheap too.

In my opinion, there are 3 main reasons for human to cook food. First, we cook because we need to kill bacteria and viruses. For example, meat from poultry is full of germ. You need to cook it for you to avoid from falling ill. The second reason is to preserved food. Ham and cheese are examples of preserving meat and milk. Finally, the third reason is to help digestion. Cooking breaks down cellulose and make certain vegetables easily digested by the human body. Therefore, you don’t need to waste energy unnecessary.

Most of the Chinese dishes are cooked but they are mainly cooked for the first and second reason. Chinese New Year rice cake and Chinese sausage are ways to preserved food to survive the winter. Here in India, everything is cooked until it is like Chinese porridge or congee. Most of the food varieties here are made up of simple carbohydrate. Indian food is also cooked with a lot of oil. People on mission - beware!

Poor Chinese people eat rice porridge because that can't afford to eat rice. Making porridge will break down all the rice grains into something very easy to digest. So, people don’t need much energy to get energy from porridge. Hope you get the idea. So, here in India, overcooking of simple carbohydrate has become a culture itself. By the way, desserts are damn sweet that you feel you can dilute everything 10 times and still taste as sweet as sugar cane juice.

Next is use of milk in cooking. Paneer, the cottage cheese looks like a substitute for tofu. This stuff is tastier than tofu, I love it. In Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, curries are "enhanced" with coconut milk. On the other hand, looks like all the Indian curries have milk added. For those with lactose intolerance, you will get diarrhea easily. Since you are not aware of the amount of milk you took, you might blame that to unhygienic food. Well, certain restaurants unhygienic though.

I have a feeling that Indian people in general think they are the poorest in the world. All foreigner are damn fucking rich. When you go to visit any tourist spot, the big sign board tells you that you are paying a few thousand percent more. For example, locals pay 10 rupees which is equivalent to RM 0.90 or USD 0.26. Foreigners have to fork out either 250 rupees or USD 5.00. OK, they think foreigners earn 25 time their salary, what a fucking rip off. Well, I don’t think these smart Indians want US dollars these days as USD 5 worth 190 rupees only.

Beggars on the street beg from foreigners only. I have not given a cent to beggars. These people can go to work, OK. Back in the street in New York, they are damn fucking many homeless people. I read one report that the use of soup kitchen is increasing as well.
However, fucking westerners are encouraging these lazy Indians to beg. Maybe there is some kind of conspiracy going on, I don’t know. Another reason could be the white people thought that they are "superior". Don’t be fooled by beggar holding young babies as young as a few months, the babies might not belong to them. Shit! What kind of fucking society?! My taxi driver told me, some beggars can buy lands, while he can't buy any even after driving for 15 years. Well, he said, the only things that these people don’t have is dignity. Long story…

Everyone is thinking of ripping off foreigners. People come to India because certain things are cheaper. For example, medical treatment, IT related job outsourcing, etc. One thing they don’t realize is - many things outside of India are damn fucking cheap. Fruits, vegetables, clothes, electrical appliances, electronics gadgets, and computer parts are much cheaper in Malaysia. But these idiots thought we are coming to shop for cheap stuffs and charge a premium as well. It adds up to be exorbitantly high price.

When they keep do that, sooner or later, Europeans with their strong Euro will not be able to withstand it. Furthermore, their products are not of first class quality though. The only exception is the near first class service, coupled with excellent lips service. Maybe, angmo loves it when people call them "Sir" day in and day out. To me, I would rather carry my own luggage. Fuck, don't tell me that you can carry it for 2 miles at the airport during transit but you can't take it from the hotel lobby to your room. I don't need to be pampered.

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