Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Paul went back to work after the long holiday weekend and I was all set to enjoy my first day here alone…

…that is until my doorbell rang six times.

Six Times! 

First a man came to pick up my garbage.  How nice.  No need to bring it out to the dumpster; the complex sends a man around to every unit, every day.

About an hour later the bell rang again.  This time there were two men that spoke to me in Hindi.  After they realized that I didn’t understand them, one of them held up some mail in one hand and money in the other and said, “Diwali.”  Apparently Diwali is like Christmas and I was supposed to tip them.  I shook my head ‘no’ and tried to tell them I had just moved in.  After they left, I realized I probably should have given them something just to ensure we received our mail in the future.

The third time it rang, it was the propane wala.  The owner had told me that he comes about every two weeks so there was no need for us to communicate, or so I thought.  After he switched out one of the tanks and I paid him he proceeded to speak.  I shook my head and asked, “English?”  Well no such luck.  He just kept talking and I just kept telling him I didn’t understand.  He finally rolled his eyes and turned toward the elevator.  I closed the door and then wondered if he was looking for a Diwali tip too. 

I got a reprieve for a couple of hours until the phone rang.  With much effort from both parties, I finally comprehended that it was the technician the owner had called to fix the pump for the ‘rain shower’.  About five minutes before he was expected, I got a call from the security gate.  Though this person claimed to speak English, they didn’t.  Finally, after several minutes, they let him into the complex.

Now while the technician and his worker were downstairs in one of the bathrooms, the doorbell rang again.  WTF?  This time it was a guy with a replacement drawer for the new refrigerator.  Now he didn’t speak a lick of English either, but he had paperwork with him that I could read.

Last, but not least, the men showed up with our new mattress.  It wouldn’t fit in the elevator so they had to carry it up twelve flights of stairs.  Thank goodness Paul got home then and dealt with it.

English may be the national language in India, but most people I’ve encountered speak very little of it or none at all.  This just confirms the fact that it would probably be a good idea to dish out the $500.00 for Rosetta Stone.

On another note, Paul came home with a bunch of homemade goodies.  His rickshaw driver’s wife sent them as a thank you for the Diwali gifts I bought for their children.  I don't know what they are called, but I call them delicious!


Blondefabulous said...

If something is delicious in a foreign land, I find it best not to ask what it is.... ;-)

hello haha narf said...

i'm not worldly enough to have known that english was technically the national language in india. i'm still shaking my head at that one.

rain shower?

maybe you could tip the mail dudes today? i'd hate for anything to interfere with you receiving packages and letters from home. although with email and the blog i'm not sure how many handwritten letters are even written these days.

i'm really enjoying reading of the the details of your days. fascinating.

Expat No. 3699 said...

@ Blondfabulous
Not only were they delicious, I WANT to know what they were. I’d like to try to make them myself…along with many other Indian foods. I’m hoping once I get back here after the holidays I can start experimenting with Indian cuisine and post about my results.

@ hello haha narf
English is their national language because they were under British rule from the mid 19th century up until just over sixty years ago. Unfortunately, not everyone speaks it, nor do they all speak Hindi. Different parts of the country have different dialects. So not only is it hard for foreigners to communicate; natives have a hard time communicating with each other when they travel.

The ‘rain shower’ is in one of our bathrooms. It has different sprayers and such. The technician was here to fix the pump so that it had more pressure. When he was showing me how it worked, it didn’t look that impressive, but I’ll have to try it.

As far as the mail, we have a box on the first floor. I don’t expect we’ll get anything more than a few bills here…but if we’re late on a payment, I’ll just tell them the check is in the mail. That is once I figure out how to say that in Hindi!

Thanks for reading and for all your comments. I don’t know if I’d call it fascinating, but it is quite the adventure.

Unknown said...

Your life is just one venture after another...I think you are very brave.

Expat No. 3699 said...

@ Moonspun
I hope it will be one adventure after another. I’m glad life’s given me this opportunity to hop off the treadmill for a while.

Bama Cheryl said...

This really is an adventure - make sure you keep good notes and maybe there's a book in it later. Especially the pictures of their dangerous working conditions. Fascinating that English is the national language. My experience is a bit better than yours but not much. I agree that I'm looking forward to your posts to see what escapades have befallen you most recently. Happy cleaning! The food looks yummy!

Badass Geek said...

Those do look tasty.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

My cousin-in-law spent nine months in India, near Kashmir, teaching English to Buddhist nuns. They, in turn, taught her Hindi. After attending a festival in-town, she returned to the nunnery (right?) and two men behind her were making crude comments about her in Hindi, thinking she didn't understand. She whipped around and laid into them, basically telling them, in Hindi, that their mothers would be ashamed of them. They scurried off and apologized. Profusely.

I think that's how you should do it. Either spring for the Rosetta Stone program or hire someone locally to teach you. Then, just listen. Might be enlightening!

Love you, hon!

Unknown said...

I love Heather. She's diabolical.

Mik said...

That food certainly looks delicious.

Expat No. 3699 said...

@ Bama Cheryl
Hey there, I’m still waiting for you to email some of the funny stuff you’ve had to translate!

@ Badass Geek
They are. They were. They’re gone!

@ Coal Miner’s Granddaughter
Ha! That’s funny. Yes, I think I’m going to have to spend the rupees and order Rosetta Stone.

@ LceeL
But you love me too, right?


@ Mik
It really was. Unfortunately it’s already gone.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Did you just move to an Indian area?

I lived on the corner of a large Indian street in East London once. It was amazing. The doorbell rung all the time. People popped over with food and gossip.

It was sort of like living at a food festival, especially around Diwali and Eid.

:ap it up. And get used to the randomness!

Nej said...

How many fun words were you saying by the time it rang the 6th time??? :-)

Congrats on moving into the new place, by the way!!!!!

That food looks marvelous!