I’ve been here almost a week, and wanted to take a minute to talk about some big differences I’ve already noticed.
0) The Temperature.
This one’s obvious, so it warranted a 0 instead of a 1… But ugg. The heat! It’s really hot here.
Lots of things here. Multiple languages on the road signs. Additionally, I knew people drove on the left here, but I didn’t realize that philosophy extends to walking as well. In the US, we naturally (or maybe unnaturally) walk on the right side of the road.
The traffic is unbelievable. It feels like we’re constantly a moment from death as the cars ignore all lines drawn on the street as well as all traffic signs. A week of being here, and I haven’t seen a single accident, so I’m left with the feeling that Indian drivers must be the best in the world because the way they drive is intimidating and incredible at the same time. The awareness is profound.
Another interesting thing: The maintenance vehicles have interesting colors of sparkling lights on them. Greens, and blues, and purples.
In the rare times you are stopped at a light (most lights seem to be ignored), there are children or other people who come to your car looking for change. Occasionally, someone will bear a rag to wipe your hood, but they aren’t shy about pounding on the window for a good solid 30 seconds.
All restaurants I’ve eaten at you pay for each drink rather than have “unlimited” refills. Maybe it’s just my choice of restaurants since I’ve been here. Also interesting, when ordering water, you often get the option of “sparkling or still.” And you always get the choice of ice. Very different. In the US, still water and ice are a given.
3) Power Outlets
The power outlets initially freaked me out. They are very different than the ones we have in the US. Turns out the US adapters will work in them, but I was very intimidated (since they look nothing alike).
This is a work specific one, and also is obvious when I think about it. During the work day here, I had very few emails. I typically get 200-300 emails per day for my job. I had maybe 20. The problem is, as I get ready for bed tonight, I’m suddenly inundated with hundreds of email. It is night here, and feels like night… Yet the reality is that on the other side of the world everybody is waking up and getting to work. Makes it hard to get to bed.
Everywhere required the car be checked for bombs, and I had to walk through a metal detector to enter. I heard this is a more or less recently development as the new government is trying to build a lot of security. I’ve also heard he’s done a lot to reduce corruption among the police force, so that’s very inspiring!
In every hotel I’ve stay in within the US, toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc) are over-provided. IE: If I unwrap the bar soap and leave it in the dish, there will be a newly wrapped version nearby when I return to the hotel. No regard for whether I should finish using the existing or not. Here, no new toiletries were provided. Which is actually fine. I didn’t need more and wouldn’t have used them anyways. Hopefully I’ll see new ones when I run out.
The second thing is a little more unnerving. Housekeeping feels obligated to touch my stuff. I’m curious how much of me being bothered is an American thing versus a me thing versus just a personal space thing. Clothes that I had left stacked (more or less) neatly on the couch had all been picked up and folded. My shoes (which weren’t in the way) were moved to a cozy position near the bed. My papers, spread about on my desk had all been pulled together and stacked in a neat pile. Even my dirty socks had been pulled from my planned pile and stacked. I would have been fine with no service at all, and at most, making the bed. This bothered me because I felt there was no need to touch my stuff. Housekeeping being nosy, or is this a way to illustrate that service is being provided? I don’t know… But it’s my stuff, and I’m not sure how I feel about it being bothered.
Additionally, turn-down service comes in the evening as well as morning. That’s different.
Went to go see the Jungle Book in the theater. Great movie. Right at one of the intense moments, the screen froze and went dark. I thought something had gone wrong… But nope. Intermission. I’m familiar with this in stage plays, but never had that experience in cinema.
8) The People
The people are incredible. I’m from the southern United States, and in the South, we take pride in our hospitality. We’ve got nothing on India. Everybody I’ve met is warm and friendly, good-natured, and open. Initially, I held this to just my co-workers, but even at the movies, the people sitting next to me were genuinely interested in me, what I was here for (and strangely wanted to take a picture with me). At lunch, people offer up their food to each other. “Want to try this?” It wasn’t just a thing done for me to let the American taste… They frequently offered to each other. I’ve been overwhelmed by the hospitality.