Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Nod to Pandora

Having returned from a month in India, I've decided to emulate Esoteric Pandora, in comparing USA and India. While I did miss the country as a whole, I had no inclination to sing "Yeh mera India!! I love my India" upon landing. So anyway, here's my contrast of India and the US:

Things I was glad to go home to:
- Mangoes: This was summer, and the mangoes were a bumper crop this year. And Thainadu being Thainadu, I could cut a mango into two large slices and shove my upper jaw into each till the juice ran down my chin. (I'm still talking about fruit here btw, so VP don't get all suggestive imagery HAW!! HAW!!)

- Vegetables: I think I could count the various vegetables I've consumed over the past year on the fingers of one hand. Non-veg is fine as an occasional outside thing, but the TamBram stomach calls out for home made vegetarian sappadu. At long last, non-meaty things that aren't either boiled, served cold, mashed or served on a pizza/burrito!!! At long last, carrots and beans with coconut and chow-chow koottu and bhindi and vayakkai and fried chepangkayangu and keerai molaguttal and paruppu usuli. And my two all time favourites - masala-laden fried potatoes (the way Mom makes it) and Aviyal (the way anyone makes it). I spurned non-veg by and large over my trip. Screw meat, I can swim in it here. Vegetables and rice are what you return home for.

- Relegation: One of the things that makes life in America so character-building and strengthening, and thereby most unpleasant, is the need to do everything oneself. One has to cook one's own meals, make one's own coffee, iron one's own clothes, drive one's own car....... Being in the lap of middle class luxury was something else - a driver and car on call, somebody to clean the room and smooth the sheets and make the coffee and do just about anything else you can think of...Maybe if enough Mexicans come on over, I can have a 'maami' (the Mexican term is vieja tía, I believe) and driver of my own up here.

- Not having to go to a Wal-Mart or Costco or whatever. I mean, walk 10 minutes down the lane and there, you have Krishnan Provisions, or Satyam Kirana Stores or Singapore Shoppee or Gopal General Store. Beats the hell out of searching through a football field-size obstacle course for a packet of biscuits

- Carnatic music and shlokas: They sound pleasant at 5.00 am, sort of a feel-good "Brand New Day" thing

- Coffee: I mean coffee, the kind you set the decoction to half an hour earlier and have between 6.30 and 7.00 am in a stainless steel tumbler when reading The Hindu. Does wonders for constipation

- Haircuts that cost between 50 cents and 2 dollars

- Trips to Landmark for a good long browse

Things I'm glad to get back to here:

- Roads that don't have cracked pavements with reeking open drains below

- The assurance that the guy in the next lane will be prosecuted/sued properly in the event of a car crash and will therefore NOT get in your way

- Not needing cash for most things

- Broadband that's actually broad; and wi-fi too

- The cheap price of electronics

- Ice cream with genuinely exotic flavours