Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To the North and back…

I have not really travelled much. Circumstances have always kept me in and around Bangalore – “in” being the more dominant of the two. Any other traveling with my parents would be the mandatory temple tour of Tamil Nadu, and I have done a huge share of that. That was fun…but wouldn’t be any more to me. Until very recently (4 days to be precise), the northernmost place I had been to was Bombay…and that was almost 15 years ago. So, this trip to Delhi was quite a refreshing one for many reasons.

The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of a close friend of mine from my Infy days – Hitesh to his colleague Mrinal. And it was my first visit to a Punjabi wedding. More on that later. Firstly on what is my sticky issue…

Poor Hindi (or should I say poor “indi”)
Having been exposed to the language for just 3 years, all that I do when I speak/understand it is a good dose of laughter. For the listeners. And humiliation for myself. Sample this:

(An ad being played on TV that says “…mardon ke liye”)
Me: Hmm…you have products for dead bodies???
Avi: @#%@#%$@#% That is murdon. Mardon means "guys". Jackass!!

A bit of history on how I actually came to know the word murdon. This happened almost 2 years back in Mysore.
(Me observing a poster for a B-grade horror flick titled “Murdon ki mouth”)
Me: Dude, how the heck is the mouth of a chicken so scary???
Avi: @#%@#%$@#% murga means chicken. Murdon means dead body…
Me: Oh…so chicken is another name for the war god???

With such a background, it is obviously hard to survive in Delhi. Thankfully I had Avinash & SP to help me out.

Shopping nightmares
One thing that had been told to us guys before leaving for Delhi was the abundance of shopping opportunities. Though not really a very enthusiastic shopper, I was indeed looking forward to buying a pair of shoes and a few sweatshirts. But all that changed when we were thrown the B word by Mrinal! Apparently the rates mentioned by the seller would be 5000, but we could buy it from him for 500…in effect, we had to BARGAIN!! That word sent shivers down the spines of Avi and me…not so much in SP. But then again, his definition of bargaining was quite different…this is what he did:
Seller: The charger costs 350.
SP: 100 bucks.
Seller: No
SP: No? Ok, I am going then…
That’s it. His bargaining is done. He has quoted the lower price, and, satisfied, leaves the shop. Obviously without buying anything. :)

Drunken auto-driver
We got conned in Agra. Big time. And repeatedly. Nothing could be done about that. There are certain things Avi & me are quite good at…and this is one of those: getting fooled easily. We had an auto-driver whose only English consisted of “You happy? So happy? Or no happy?” followed by a laugh that still gives me nightmares! He promised us to get us the best shopping deals. All that he did was direct us towards a shop, and lock the door from outside. Ok…not exactly locked, but closed the door in a manner that suggested in no uncertain terms on what would happen to us if we didn’t buy stuff there.

After completing some minimal shopping, we entered the leather goods section of that shop. I was admiring some really nice shoes when SP declared that none of the goods were made of leather as the shop didn’t have “the smell”. That was that then. If I am going to get conned, I would prefer paying exorbitantly more for a good quality good, rather than paying exorbitantly more for a poor quality good. Safer that way.

After a pretty nice dinner, we waited for a few minutes before our auto driver returned a tad unsteadily. He claimed that he had had gone for a cup of “tea”. Yeah right!!

Bus Service & Roads
What we lack in detecting deception, we guys made up for that in having an abundance of foresight. We used the bus service for almost all our travel purposes. The call of the taxi was quite alluring, but we resisted. The Delhi bus service is very good. Despite having the bad habit of writing the names of all places in Hindi (just like how it is Kannada in Bangalore), the frequency is amazing. The quality of the buses are sub-standard though. They have numerous orifices and air curtains at all possible angles. On our way back from Agra, we faced extreme chill hitting us from all possible points. The bus is anything but airtight!

But the roads…sigh! I wouldn’t want to take back anything from Delhi to Bangalore except for the roads. Double sigh!! The 3 of us spend upto 5 hours traveling back and forth everyday commuting from our homes to office. We brave the horrendous Hosur Road traffic day in and day out. And compare that to the broad, smooth roads in Delh…triple sigh!!!

Rasm, Pagdi, etc
Hitesh or Golu or “Luthra the thief” is one of the funniest guys, and not because of his jokes. It has more to do with his expressions.
Hitesh: “That is Mrinal’s father…”
Me: “So, your father-in-law?”
Hitesh: “Ya…whatever…”
He had given up on my Hindi years ago in Mysore, and his exasperation on me thinking rasm was similar to our sambhar-rasam was just momentary. He resigned himself to the fate of explaining that it meant rituals. Poor guy.

Being the only friends of his who had attended the wedding, we were forced to do a lot of embarrassing things. The sight of Avi and me dancing on the road as Hitesh followed us on his horse must have been a truly comic moment. In fact, I distinctly overheard one of the relatives ask the videographer for an extra copy of the dance portions. :)

Knowing just the simple dance steps of the dabbangoothu, me and Avi managed to keep repeating that for all kinds of music, beats, tunes. The entire 2 hours can be summarized in this line: “We made a complete ass of ourselves, as the other ass sat astride the horse and cackled gleefully!” @#$%#$$%#$%

Different kind of marriage
In the weddings that I’ve visited (basically Tamilian & Kannadiga), the priest is the sole director of the proceedings. He controls what happens next, what should be the exact protocol to be followed. Punjabi weddings seem to be more people oriented. The close ones take over the proceedings and indulge in socializing activities. A huge disparity indeed. The pundit in these weddings is quite trivial. In fact, Avi even observed that the pundit recited nothing more than “shuklaam baradharam vishnum…”. It was eerily similar to our “limited moves dancing”. :P

Overall it was incredible fun. And as Avi mentions here, it is quite unbelievable that Hitesh is already married. We both came to the unanimous conclusion that Hitesh would be a perfect henpecked husband. Let’s see how that works out. ;-)

Congratulations once again to Mrinal & Hitesh.


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Punk Floyd said...

Teh hindi part about "mardon" was too good.heheheeh!!

At 10:40 PM, Blogger J said...

Oh boy, I didnt know u were THAT bad.
Cool... so one of these days if u get a call from someone who forces u to talk in hindi...u know its me :p

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Pavithra said...

The jig u did will come utile for next year's garba celebration with prafful and kushal.You might even end up impressin a certain aunty with your dance moves.:))

At 12:23 AM, Anonymous the devil said...

classic chilli post .... cracked me up ... by the way who is prafful .... you mamsahari punjabi

At 1:22 AM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Nanri hai from a mamsahari gujju!

Oh yes...I am that bad. :P

utile? utile? Thanks for living upto your name. What would I do without the help of :P
But why wait for next year's garbha? Kushal & Srihant will start a garbhankoothu for all Tams. Aunty would be replaced by anty.

Methinks prafful is Mr. Malhotra-ji. If not, mamsahari punjabi he is.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger Randhir said...

You guys had so much fun. How could I manage to miss out on this? :((

Send me some snaps / videos of your dance moves, if possible.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Newfire said...

awesome blogg.. i laughed my ass off..


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