Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trois Couleurs

The Good

I was walking down the street looking for an electronics repair shop. The malls are probably not the best part of town to look for one but that's the only market I knew. I had been walking for the better part of an hour and my feet were beginning to drag. I was also very hungry; breakfast had been bread with jam and it was now 2 in the afternoon. I saw a waffle shop on the street to my right and decided to try one. It was only an euro and a half. The first bite burnt my upper lip, but I didn't notice - the taste was exquisite. I devoured the entire thing as quickly as my lips would allow. Then, I got up; there was a spring in my step. I did manage to find the shop eventually :)

My flatmate came home early and we decided to cook dinner (I mean he did, I mostly stood and watched). Rice was no major issue, and we cooked dal too (procured from a Punjabi shopkeeper at ridiculous prices). And then he said, "Chal tadka lagate hain". I peeled and sliced the onion and tomato and we got the spices and the entire mixture on the frying pan, smelling heavenly. It was amazing - the best dal-chawal I have ever eaten. Today, it'll be my turn - I plan to have a pretty heavy lunch :D

The Bad

We haven't gotten an internet connection at home yet. We are getting unsecured wireless from some office near our home - but it is unreliable and erratic. I went to a center of the the office-approved ISP. After waiting for an hour and a half, I was told that it'll take 6-8 weeks to get the connection. Why this delay? Due to backlog of orders, unavailability of staff etc. Till then, unsecured wireless it is!

One would imagine that in times of the credit crunch, banks would be more than willing to accept new savings a/c. But no! I can't open an account till I get a rental agreement made. What about the fact that my flatmate has the rental agreement and my office is willing to furnish a letter saying I live where I live. That'll not do. So until then, I am getting my money transferred to my friend's account.

One would have it so much easier with these things back in desh. Am really surprised by the bureaucracy - didn't expect it.

The Ugly

It is next to impossible to have savings of the kind we have in India, in the West. The ratio of expenses required to maintain a certain standard of living to salaries is very high here. E.g. - Rent is upto 30% of salaries in many cases. And of course, people can't afford domestic help. Therefore, it is completely understandable why shorter working hours are required. When a guy gets back from work, he needs to cook his food, clean his house, get repairs etc that are needed around. There is no khana bananewale bhaiya or kaamwali bai here. Also, there are no 5 Rs. paranthes, or 10 Rs. DTC bus ticket, or 150 Rs. shirt you can get here. I mean the variation in living standards is very low and there are no low cost alternatives to many things.

We got some (actually a lot) of furniture from IKEA and fixed most of it over the weekend - 2 cupboards, 2 beds, 2 tables, 2 sofas, 1 shoe-rack, and a couple of chairs. We have 3 chairs remaining, which I guess I'll do over today and tomorrow. Having not worked with my hands in a long while, it was pretty tiring. I made many errors, cut my finger once, and broke a chair. Also, tried cooking and burnt the khichdi (and ate it nevertheless).

Am having the truly authentic firangi experience, I guess :)


cathatfished said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cathatfished said...

oh my god, you are reading my mind :) although i am not on the same continent as you seem to be, i can totally identify...
IKEA - i LOVE. i have no idea why you have put it in ugly?? the furniture is pretty, and will last the two yrs i am here, and its CHEAP. i love the rugs. my whole room has an amazing colour scheme on the cheap. thankfully my room came somewhat furnished, and i got some guys at school to help me wth the actual mechanics of setting things up :D

food - waffles are amazing,and so is the ice cream - ben and jerrys? the doughnuts!!

but i miss desi food like crazy. and i cook badly even if i ever do get up the courage to cook. what you say about getting time to cook - NOT applicable where i am!! NOT NOT. ppl work like crazy here and i worse than most - i have no life, let alone time to cook! have to make do with icky deli sandwiches.and the occasional expensive desi food delivery.

as for savings, i am in debt and shall be for some time, so i am having an even more authentic firangi experience - living on debt ;P

Wanderer said...

[cathatfished] Oh! I love IKEA too, I put that in ugly because of my inability to fix it properly - same goes for the food.

I am also getting time to cook only because I don't have work for the time being - I might get some work quickly so things might be different.

And yes, desi food is freakishly expensive. It is unnerving to see such high prices for dal-roti-subzi.

Atish said...

This... explains the change in title :)

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