Sunday, 29 November 2009

Your Number is Up

On Thursday evening as I came home from work I saw the bus just driving past and so ran to catch up with it. It turned out to be the wrong bus. Ah well. It was the 247, when in fact I was looking to catch the 240. The reason for said mistake was due to the way numbers are written in the local script. Almost every Indian here speaks Hindi which is written in Devanagari and looks like this: मैं ठीक हूँ (mai thik hu – I am okay). Now whilst there is no chance of mistaking any Hindi letters for English, the numbers are not so accommodating. It starts simply enough: 1 is , 2 is , and 3 is . ‘What’s the issue?’ I hear you ask, ‘There is none!’ I reply. They look pretty much the same as English. Excellent. And therein lies the problem for the later numbers: is 4, not 8, is 6, not 3 again, and is, of course, 7, not 6, whilst 5 is also suspiciously six-like: . Well, why wouldn’t it be? So when I saw the २४७ drive past, I saw the २४०. Alas, it was not. Silly me.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Horn OK Please

I thought it was about time to comment on the traffic in Bombay. Chaotic isn't the word. If anyone asks what side of the road they drive on here I believe that an appropriate response would be a hearty laugh at the naivety of the question followed by the word: any. Technically it's the left, but that seems to make a relatively minor impact on day-to-day driving experience. The last minute swerves by rickshaw drivers, the liberal (read excessive) use of the horn and sheer number of passengers makes even the most simple trip down the road a Herculean adventure of epic proportions. I do, however, love it. I have embraced the Indian way. No longer do I waste time by looking when crossing the road or waiting for a break (hah!) in the stream of oncoming vehicles. Walking down the streets here is not quite taking your life in your hands, it is so much more than that. It is assuming that your life is represented by a slippery plastic ball that you are attempted to carry down the street with extremely greasing hands, whilst at the same time not really making much of a concerted effort to hang on to this strange thing called 'life'. It definitely makes the one-and-a-half hour morning commute that bit more exciting, and that's before you even get on the train.

Monday, 16 November 2009

November Rain

Some say that Swansea is the wettest city in the U.K. In fact Wikipedia tells me that the Met Office says so, so it must be true. It does rain an awful lot in Swansea, perhaps too much. Recently whenever I crossed into Wales or got off the train at Swansea station the clouds would decide that it was rightly time for them to empty their loads. How annoying. No fear, I thought, when heading off to India, Mumbai may experience the monsoon, but that's only from May till October right?


Despite every climate graph I have seen showing the most minimal amount of rain in November, somehow throughout the last week we have experienced what was reported to be a cyclone (please observe the links below).

One local told me that: "It never rains in November." Instead most of last week was spent dripping wet from rainwater (as opposed to sweat, so there is an upside). It would seem I take the weather with me everywhere I go.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

And Now We Play the Waiting Game...

Time. What a concept. It's certainly inspired much debate. A cursory look at Wikipedia highlights the debates that have occurred between philosophers and scientists with regards to time.

In India time is more of a...fluid concept. I was told to expect a lot of time just waiting. Oh indeed, how true. Maybe it's all an ironic ploy to mock my own poor time keeping skills, but while waiting for the bus earlier even the Indians were starting to look agitated. A bus that says it should be every five to ten minutes took 40. In the midday sun, this was not so nice. You live and learn though. Next time I shall bring a towel to wipe down the copious amounts of sweat. Lovely.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Smoking is Injurious to Your Health

Indeed it is, and so is the smog of Mumbai. The Time Out guide to Mumbai and Goa claims that just breathing the air is equivalent to smoking two packets of cigarettes a day. I believe it. When I arrived on Tuesday morning I was awaiting the smell of India, as it were. I had been told that it would be the first thing to strike me, there is a 'smell of spice' one person told me. I was, therefore, somewhat disappointed to be met by what I can only describe as a urinal-type smell when I arrived which no less pleasantly transformed into traffic fumes. I think I am losing a day of life expectancy with each passing breath.

I have arrived by the way. It has happened. I am really here.

To return to my previous point, that little diatribe on the air is not actually why I chose the title of this post. The title in fact is an oh so amusing notice that I saw at a western-style supermarket. It made me chuckle but not quite as much as this quote: "All of this means that if you drive out into the desert to quench your thirst for adventure, there's no chance of you ending up as a bleached white skeleton, half-buried in the desert sand." Quite. It's from an advertisement for, yes, you guessed it, Tyres of course!