Thursday, October 18, 2012

Of things I never understood

Studying in India exposed me to things I've never thought existed. It was almost like a cultural shock, although culturally, we are the same. Same-same but different as they say ;-). Before setting my foot in India, i'll admit that my knowledge about India came primarily from Indian movies, religious scriptures and well, the outdated  history we studied in school ;-) (Notice the pun? Notice? Noticed? Good!). So well, equipped with full knowledge about India, i packed my bags, packets of instant Teh O' Ais Limau, food, clothings, appa by my side and left for Bangalore. I knew nothing about Bangalore and didn't bother finding out either.  I was too busy saying my goodbyes, attending parties thrown for me and merely bumming around aimlessly like the aimless 19 year old that I was (I'm 26 now and still as aimless, sigh!)

So well, i boarded the plane, alighted, cleared the immigration at some 10-ish at night, and reached the hotel by 11-ish, only to be greeted by stray cows sleeping and policemen patrolling the street. Appa and I were stopped by the Police as we were struggling to drag our luggage, huffing and puffing our way to the hotel. Their Kannada infused English told us that Bangalore was in a perpetual state of curfew, where life ceased to exist past 1130pm. I was too beat to react then but I was a little shaken to see a street so empty. No such thing ever happened in Malaysia.  People were on the street at all times of the day, even if they were doing nothing, they were on the streets. So well, overwhelmed by all the journey and all, i slept (after eating some biscuits) and woke up the next morning and then realization hit me! I was away from home :( and there was no way i could say i dont like this place and go home either. Yeah, i didn't like the place as soon as i woke, even before it could make an impression on me. I'm bad-ass like that :-P. Appa  and I got dressed, called the agent who was supposed to help us with the college registration, had the dry bread-jam in the hotel and waited patiently for 830am (the sun rises early in that part of the world, so 830 feels like 1/4 day past), and the guy came punctually 2 hours late. He drove us to the college in a white ambassador( I kid you not!) car, through the back alley ( it was a red gravel road, not even a proper road actually) and i had tears in my eyes.  My inner voice spoke to my inner brain, " Shanky, you're so effin dead, what kind of place have you landed your self in?!", while i sat, tearing, in the white ambassador huffing and puffing on the red road to my Orange coloured college.

And the registration, at that time, sadly, went smoothly and appa stayed over for a few days before he left for Tirupathi and then back home. I remember having made 2-3 friends by then and not saying a proper bye to Appa as he was standing outside the hostel gate (I stayed up many nights crying about that, wondering why I did what i did. I still feel guilty about that). All alone in a foreign land, that speaks no Tamil, halting english (my friends at that time) and absolutely no familiar faces, i took solace in storybooks. I bought many books and would bury my head into it to avoid the stale, "Where are you from? Malaysia? Why have you come here to study?" to which i'd just smile., but inside my head i was killing them all. I got nicknamed Puzo, after Mario Puzo,obviously after being spotted all over MSR with The Godfather.

Slowly, I had started making friends, even without realizing ( so awesome i was that people couldn't resist being friends with me :-p) and i had lost the first friend I made in India (she turned out to be a psycho, a whole post has to be dedicated for that story). The more friends I made, the more i found out bout India ;-) and the more i ceased to understand stuff, which finally explains the title of this post. there were many things i never quite understood and found to be silly when i was first exposed to them. For example, i never knew why somebody would pinch me when I wore a new clothing and say new pinch! That would set a train of new pinches which you would have to silently endure and smile?! And then there was something called same pinch. Its essentially the same as a new pinch, where you get pinched merely for being same-same as the person pinching you! And then there were birthday bumps, where you get trashed for the single sin of being born on that particular day.

There were a host of other things I never quite understood, but now that I look back, I oddly miss all of those and more.  I miss the orange coloured college, the red road leading to college, the despicable hostel wardens, Riya's boyfriend - the security guard- Mishhraaaa, the psycho roommate only cause there were the 2 other's to save me from her) the first boyfriend (now ex, for reasons obvious- college laaaau), the horrible, bribe infused trips to the Police Commissioner Office for my Residential Permits, the Surekha maam ;-) , and the silly college rules. I would endure all that a thousand times over if i could rewind back time to 2005. I swear I would! Why would i go through all that i hated? Because i found so much more to love in India. I even grew to love all that i hated. Those made me love the Bangalore I love.

I loved the Hostel, and how you were never alone in the hostel, even at 3am, if you were feeling lonely and full of crap, you could find a friend to talk to, if you couldn't  you could just wake up any sleeping bandicoot and start talking like they were never sleeping in the first place. I loved the friends I made. I love the madness, uselessness i found in them :-p. I loved Holi. I loved taika! and dancing and walking to Empire for supper at 1130pm! for grub before getting into the auto on a 1 1/2 fare and cursing the auto-drivers all the way back to MSR. I love the cotton expo's where I bought 80% of my clothing's! , the Sagar samrat, where IlanoSankaRiya bought one thali meal and shared it and proceeded to steal all their mouth fresheners in a tissue paper, the Sankey tank, the numerous kind, wacky souls I got myself acquainted with, the host of awesome roommates I was blessed with- the one who fed me food, medicines and trashed my friends out of the room so that i studied and the one who had breezers with me, taught me chemistry and helped me build bridges ;-). I m thankful I stayed the entire 3 years , and I'm blessed I had awesome people around me.

I learnt Chemistry in Sonali's inhabitable room on her single bed where 3 of us would cram up like little rats and end up halucinating about being MSR's wife. I learnt that it is humanly possible for a person to shower for 2 hours 45 minutes and act like it was normal, I learnt how to write huge fonts and crap every 2 lines just to maximize the page, I learnt Hindi, and Kannada, I learnt how to ride a Pulsar and fall off it, I learnt how awesome it was to have friends following you around like homing missiles because you were depressed and spoke about killing yourself, I learnt how to enjoy idli-chutney-coffee every single morning, I learnt how to sing-dance-yell-act crazy in the rain, simply because no one knew who I was, I learnt how to walk 2km for rasmalai, I learnt how to adjust, how to live and most importantly how to have FUN living in Bangalore!

How? That's something I dont understand, and I dont attempt to either ;-)

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