Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Day in Mumbai, India

All these crazy rumors of India being such a frenetic place, putting you into sensory overload, people groping you on the streets and all that? It's TRUE.

My first day in India I had to take regular breaks of quiet in my hotel room. The smells of Mumbai (new name for Bombay since 1996) are new, everyone is wearing something different, so many kinds of people, so many potholes in the sidewalks to watch out for! I would walk past major architectural wonders without noticing them and have to turn back. Then I would pass them again after being distracted by something else. Then I would go to the hotel and take another break.

I discovered two major drawbacks to my great India adventure, both of which I had heard about, neither of which I had realized would be oh-so-very important.

1. People do actually wipe their bottoms with their left hand. There is usually a spray hose next to the toilet and the seat is always wet. Then there's a bucket usually full of water with a cup in it. What do I do with this stuff?? I'm too embarrassed to ask someone for step by step instructions so I sneak my paper into the room and sneak it out (so as not to clog the toilet)...sorry if I have given you too much information here, but this has been a serious complexity for me!

2. Because people wipe their bottoms with their left hand, there are many rules how to avoid using your left hand in society. These rules, such as eating with ONLY your right hand (without utensils, by the way, but directly with your fingers) are totally impossible to this un-ambidextrous south paw. How will I eat?!? I desperately and boldly decided to eat with the supplied spoon with my LEFT hand and maybe I was paranoid but I was sure I could hear snickers throughout the restaurant the whole time I was eating. I may need to do take out and practice with the right hand in my room for a while. Ahhh my room, my sweet dumpy little safe-haven from all that is crazy and unfathomable outside those doors.

Ah, and let me add a Major Drawback Number 3: Everyone speaks English but with the accent I don't understand a word anyone is saying to me. I'm used to nodding and smiling without understanding a word but in my own language?! Hope I pick up on the accent soon.

I went to bed early because I couldn't take anymore for one day.

Today is day two, I'm starting to love the craziness. More later, maybe with pics.


dave said... is dave.
don't let the right-trash bring you down.

leftys rule!!!

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to assume that the water hose plus the cup in the pail is not to provide refreshing drinking water....BOD

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly BOD!

Thats why I have such trouble with the outsourced "computer techs". I don't speak/understand computer talk or Indian English...and I suppose they are the cream of the crop!!

Shannen said...

A note to all:

I practised eating with my right hand at McDonald's today. It was hard. (seriously)

*Hi Dave!*

Thanks for the encouragement! I could get some lefty-revenge and do everything in reverse, except shaking hands, he he.


I could get refreshing drinking water from the pail with my nifty UV water zapper! But I wont.

I did however wash my hair with that same bucket this morning. It's the only way to get hot water. Sorry, am I grossing you out? You glad yet that you didn't come to India with me?


Believe me the computer techies you get on the phone are a godsend in comparison. They really are the "cream of the crop".

Could it be that if I start asking people here on the street computer questions they will suddenly speak with a smoother more comprehensive accent? I think I'll try it tonight...

Anonymous said...

I was right - you will come home smelling badly! Just not like the anticipated spices...

sister Sam

Shannen said...

*sister Sam*

Actually the Indians think our system is gross because we don't "wash" ourselves after doing a number two.

I decided not to bring deodorant, actually, to lighten my bag. Figured if they don't use it I you might be right about the stinking bit...