Monday, June 13, 2011

What is normal ??

Living in any foreign country, your view of what is “normal’ has to adapt to the local culture. If you try to pretend it’s like being back home, then you won’t get the most of the experience.

What is “normal” in India takes it to a whole new level. Here are some examples:

In Canberra I’m likely to see a kangaroo in the main street or a peacock while waiting for the bus.

Here in Delhi, I’m just as likely to see a cow just sitting in the middle of the road (or a herd by the side of the road), the occasional camel just ambling, monkeys wandering the streets in packs (even around the government buildings) & the occasional elephant. The peacocks I see (& hear) everyday on the compound: Andrew can be quite a noisy bugger.

In Canberra, while stopped at an intersection, the only thing likely to annoy you is the windscreen washer dude.

In Delhi, you’re likely to have the local street urchins or beggars tapping on your window; street hawkers selling all sorts of crap (including those really neat fly racquets) or street performers juggling or dancing next to you: all for money.

In Canberra, you give way to traffic on the roundabout.

In Delhi, roundabouts are just another free-for-all where you give way to traffic coming onto the roundabout.

In Canberra (& the rest of Australia), there will be the occasional scandal gracing the front page of the newspaper, where a member of some state of federal parliament has done something bad & will be forced out.

In India, EVERY day has a new scandal where some parliamentarian, local councillor or government official has done something really, REALLY bad.

In Canberra, we complain about the public service.

In Delhi, we have to deal with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). If you’ve dealt with them......enough said.

In Canberra, we can go to our local Cole, Woolies, IGA, Supa Barn (or any other local shop) to buy our groceries (incl. fruit & vege), take it home & then start cooking.

In Delhi, we have to wash our fruit & vege in a sterilising solution for at least 30min before we can start preparing.

In Canberra, we can go to the local butcher & pick up any sort of meat.

In Delhi (& the rest of India), you have to touch base with a “meat” guy (everyone has their “meat“ guy” ). There’s a “guy for everything here. You just need to know someone who knows him.

In Canberra, the only time you’re likely to see guys taking a piss up against a wall is on a Friday or Saturday night.

In Delhi, you'll see it happen every day: up against a wall, up against a tree, directly into the sewer. You're just as likely to see a guy taking a dump by the side of the road.

In Australia, when getting work done around the house, the workman may not turn up or he'll be late...but when he does, he generally does a good job so that he won’t have to return.

In India, you’re lucky if the workmen (yes...there will always be at least four of them) turn up on time or at all. If they do get around to fixing your problem, it will never be done right. There will always be some "problem". The philosophy here is “near enough is good enough” (that means they have more work as they have to come back again).

In Australia, deliveries of anything (furniture, white goods, materials for construction, etc..) will generally arrive in the back of a (covered) truck or Ute.

In India, you’re lucky if it arrives in a truck. It will most likely arrive on the back of a rickshaw (I’ve seen big-arsed fridges & air-conditioning units being delivered like that) or (& this is my favourite) on the back of a motorbike: one guy driving & the other guy holding the big, 52 inch tele. If it does arrive on a truck, it will be an open truck (assuming the truck & its contents haven’t been hijacked by militant unionists) so forget about a delivery it if it’s raining (most of August in Delhi).

In Australia, anyone on a motorbike must have a helmet & some semblance of protective gear.

In India, I’ve seen entire families on motor bikes: dad driving, mum (with new born) riding side saddle, youngest kid sitting on dad’s lap & holding onto steering; next oldest wedged in between mum & dad. Dad is the only one with a helmet.

In Australia, seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers.

In India, the only one who has to wear the seatbelt is the driver.

Yep....India’s a whole different take on the concept of “normal”.

1 comment:

  1. I like your vision of Australia, and want to subscribe to your newsletter. :-D