I wanted to blog last night but instead I was Skyping friends back in the US and Facebook chatting with friends in Egypt. This weekend was another quiet weekend filled with – which I hate to say, annoyances and avoidable stress.
I went to work on Friday but didn’t have anything to do. They had meetings and were training new people all week so Monday through Thursday I just finished my daily reports from the following week. Friday was nice because I was able to catch up on my blogging and just relax a bit. The writing process was nice and now that I have almost everything I wanted to post posted, I feel much more relieved than before. I also met up with Nitin for lunch on Friday. It was nice just to sit and chat with someone (if I already mentioned this earlier sorry for the repeat).
On Saturday I pretty much just slept in… Dana and I also finalized our travel arrangements for New Delhi and Agra this weekend. I’m pretty excited as I need to leave Baroda this weekend! I’ll be travelling with Dana, Aya and Sara. I can’t wait to see the Taj Mahal. The microfinance group along with Erik and Maysa just came back and I saw some of their pictures. Pretty magnificent if you ask me! I can only imagine what it’ll look like in person – so that’s something to look forward to!
Saturday night was pretty chill as well, Dana and I just relaxed. Nilay and Nitin came by and we just hung out for a bit. After a while Dana had a slight headache so the guys left and I went with, wasn’t tired and I didn’t want to sit or lay down. We went to this random place behind the train station, practically the only place open at whatever hour it was that we were up… I think it was possibly around 1 or 2 in the morning? Again my sense of time is completely messed up! Anyway! So we went to this place and had some food. I’m not sure what it’s called but they told me it’s like “cornflakes” (don’t think cereal because it’s definitely not that). There was this thing like rice except it’s much softer, some crunchy stuff that looked like small dried noodle pieces and diced green chili peppers. I’m not sure what it’s called but it was pretty good! I’m still going to stand by the fact that food in India is not spicy enough, don’t get me wrong it’s delicious! I just don’t think it’s spicy enough! So yeah that’s what we did to burn time. I also met up with Amir one of their friends who I met a couple weeks back when Alex, Dominic and Sebbi were toasted. It was nice to catch up.
Yesterday (Sunday), I again slept in – not something that I do often so it was rather nice. I woke up around 1:20PM’ish and got ready. We tried to catch the 2:15PM showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 (in 3D) at INOX but ran into some complications. First, the movie was sold out… We didn’t think so many people would still be watching it but then again, there’s absolutely NOTHING to do in Baroda so of course, on the weekend, people want to go to the cinema, should have anticipated for that but we forgot. Since the 2:15 showing was sold out we decided to catch the 7:15PM showing except we seriously waited in line for what seemed like 45 minutes. People here have no concept of what “wait in line” means. I find it incredibly rude that they just cut in and out. If they don’t do that immediately then they crowd you and as you walk up to the counter they cut in… Seriously?! I know, it’s not my country and this is probably how they are used to doing things here… but I can’t get used to it and I honestly just find it to be incredibly rude and disrespectful since so many people are standing and waiting in line and they just refuse to wait their turn. Anyway, so Dana waited in line for about 45 minutes before being able to purchase tickets for the 7:15PM showing. We had already seen the movie earlier this month on the 15th of July but we were a bit late due to the rain and missed the first 10 or so minutes of the movie. So after we purchased the tickets we figured we burn time by staying in the same area.
I was hungry so we decided to eat first. I have to say, the only time I ever eat McDonald’s is when I’m abroad… Which needless to say, is pretty pathetic not to mention I hate that I do it? There are simply, not enough consistent options and McDonald’s is unfortunately the only consistent food place, regardless of where in the world one might be. I really detest that I feel as such but it’s the truth. So I had some Chicken McNuggets and an ice cream cone afterwards and Dana just had some fries and an ice cream cone. I did find something peculiar and I’m starting to notice these types of peculiarities more and more… So a McDonald’s ice cream cone, one dipped in chocolate is supposed to be 20 Indian rupees which is equivalent to approximately $0.45 USD. I took out 20 Indian rupees, ordered an ice cream cone and gave the guy the money. He ended up giving me 10 Indian rupees back and I got really confused. I thought maybe he just heard me wrong and would give me something else like a small cup with vanilla ice cream – this has happened before… So I thought whatever, I’m really not in the mood to bicker or debate with people I’ll just take whatever it was that he thought he heard. So I prepared myself for the wrong order since as I just stated, this has happened before. What happened instead… is that he gave me the right order – an ice cream cone dipped in chocolate. I got confused and I told him that he only charged me 10 Indian rupees and it’s supposed to be 20 (yes I know, some of you are probably thinking what the heck is wrong with me, I should have just taken it and left – but I don’t operate like that). I thought he made a mistake but he just smiled at me and said nothing. I again, thought maybe I wasn’t being clear or something so I started to open my purse but he said, “No, it’s okay” and then smiled again. I took it as a compliment and said thanks and walked away with my ice cream.
So with my ice cream in one hand and still time left to burn Dana and I went to the complex next to INOX to check out the bookstore. I had to finish my ice cream first, which I have to say, I’m starting to get very used to eating almost every day (ugh… hate that!). After I finished we went inside to the bookstore. The first floor had chocolate, pencils and pens, CDs and DVDs. The second floor sold kitchenware and the third floor stationary and BOOKS! El 7amdullah it was it felt like I was back in California sitting around in Barnes and Nobles or Borders. I love books! I own about 600+ or so back in California… It eats up my closet space; I practically have no room for my clothes. My book count is up though… I have about 20-30 back in Egypt from this past semester and I just accumulated about another handful or so here in India… I’m totally screwed when I head back to California, not sure how I will be able to transport all of these back since they are heavy and take up space. I need to invest in a Kindle.
So Dana and I went to the third floor to check out books. I was randomly looking at the fiction section and of course, go figure, I had a random conversation with an Indian. If you know me, then you’ll know I often times have random conversations with people I don’t know. Anyway, I was staring at the shelf that had books by some of my all-time favorite authors – Stephen King, Robert Cook, Tess Gerritsen, Tami Hoag, and so forth… I made a comment about one of the authors and the guy over heard me and he asked me for some recommendations of books and authors. I asked him what he was looking for and gave him some suggestions that I liked and thought he might enjoy. He asked me if I worked at the store, I had to chuckle to myself – I used to get asked that all the time at both the Palmdale and Westlake Village Barnes and Noble stores since I always knew where the books were located and random customers’ were always asking me for assistance or recommendations. I think if I were to work at a bookstore I would be in big trouble! One, I would never leave – it would literally be like another home to me, and two, I would spend an obscene amount of money, more so than I already do on books. Anyway so I gave the guy some suggestions and he ended up getting a book by Tess Gerritsen – a new one that I haven’t read! I told him I hope he likes it and I’ll have to pick up that book later on! I recommended Harvest by Gerritsen but the bookstore didn’t have it (thank you Dr. Bland for the initial recommendation!).
Afterwards, we parted as I wanted to find a book, The Girls of Riyadh which was previously recommended to me by my friend Sherif. I tried to find it in Cairo, and I was successful but the copy was in Maadi and I had two days before my flight to India so I decided not to travel to get it. I was stoked, found the book at this bookstore and decided to take it! I’m still in the process of reading Gerritsen’s The Mephisto Club, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment. I’m thinking of starting a book review blog… yes I know I blog A LOT and about EVERYTHING. But yes, I found the book! Which I am looking forward to reading as soon as I finish Gerritsen, hopefully sometime tonight or tomorrow night. So after I found my book I decided to continue meandering around the bookstore just to see what they had. I was trying to find a good Sudoku puzzle book but the ones they had were too easy and I would finish it far too quickly. For the time being I will have to utilize the Sudoku on my BlackBerry though I’m almost finished with all the levels there. The bookstore also had a sale… have I mentioned that this is DANGEROUS!? They had a “Buy 3 books for the price of 2” deal going on and what did I do? Well I purchased more books. We continued to meander and I bumped into the same guy I met when Dana and I first arrived – the one who asked for book and author recommendations.
So we chatted again. He asked me what I was studying and my purpose for being in Baroda. I found out his name is Rohid, he just moved from Delhi due to his job and recently finished his MBA. Then we talked about POLITICS! For those who don’t know me well… I talk about politics literally EVERYWHERE. It’s an inescapable topic of discussion for me and I absolutely love talking to people about it. We spoke briefly about US politics, capitalism, and the United Nations. We also had a brief chat about Fordism, modernity and postmodernity – I have to say I love when people know what I’m referring to and can actually hold a conversation. In addition to our serious talk we also engaged in some small chit chat about the lack of things to do in Baroda hence why we were both browsing and purchasing books. We ended up exchanging numbers and e-mails; he invited me to hang out with him and some of his friends on the weekend for coffee, book chats and things of that nature. I think that will be a good way to spend the weekends I have left here when I’m not travelling! Intellectual stimulation is definitely something that I am in dire need of, especially since there’s literally nothing to do here in Baroda. After our exchange Dana and I went downstairs to complete our purchase and decided to head back to INOX, sit at the café and read before the start of our movie – this was sort of a good/bad idea.
We went back to INOX and went to the café which was completely packed. We didn’t have to wait long, about 10 minutes or so before a table opened up. This is where things get a bit annoying… First, I’d like to preface, that since my arrival in India I have yet to have one full day where things actually go well and remain as such. Okay wait, that’s not fair… I think MAYBE I’ve had ONE day since arriving on Sunday the 26th of June in which my day went well. I think ONE… I’m thinking really hard about it now and I can’t pinpoint anything BUT I think, I vaguely remember possibly having one day in which everything went well – not necessarily as planned but the day went well. Anyway! So Dana and I finally sat down at a table that had yet to be cleaned but we decided to sit down as there were nowhere else to sit. First it took about another 10 minutes after sitting down for them to bring a menu, okay that’s fine I can deal with that, the entire café was packed full with people. The menu comes and the guy “cleans” the table… what does that mean? It means taking everything off the table BUT the empty water bottle left by the previous customers AND not wiping down the table. So that was annoying… whatever, we dealt with it and the table really wasn’t that bad so whatever… NEXT, he came back about another 10 minutes or so later to take our order. Dana ordered a black currant milk shake thing and I ordered an Ethiopian coffee. After we placed the order we started reading. This is where things start to get even more so aggravating to the point of being pissed off. New paragraph because this is going to take some energy.
I have never been in a café where people are literally screaming at each other and “scream-laughing” at each other when they are only approximately 2 feet away from each other. Whatever… I will cope; I took out my iPod and headphones, put on some music and started to read. I understand that it’s busy and I can deal with the waiting, 10, 15, 20 and even 25 minutes I am patient – both Dana and I are. I have worked at restaurants before and I know what happens when the place gets busy. BUT 60 minutes… ONE ENTIRE HOUR! C’mon! Seriously!? This isn’t even the best part! They come back literally 60 minutes later and they only bring Dana’s order. Why? Because they for some reason – unbeknownst to me, they did not have my order… They waited 60 minutes to inform us… I have no comment – no actually, I have too many comments but it’s self-explanatory enough that this needs NO comment. So we asked our waiter why he waited so long to tell us and what does he do, he doesn’t say anything and just turns around and leaves. Yep, great, splendid, awesome, magnificent, superb…
Most people would learn and say okay 5alas NO MORE, they pay for whatever was brought out and then they leave. I however, am stupid or something or maybe sometimes, I just want to believe that people can be competent. First we still had a couple hours to burn and I still wanted to read. So, I decided to try again… I decided to place another order, one macchiato. I made eye contact to let our waiter know that I was ready to order, AGAIN and he came by. I placed the order and he disappeared again. Dana and I are baffled, beyond annoyed and just trying to salvage what’s left of our patience. The order of course, takes FOREVER! At this point Dana decides she also wants to order a Café Latte. She walks across the café and places the order at the counter, excuse me, let me rephrase, she TRIED to place the order at the counter. Keyword: TRIED. When Dana came back she said that the guy said that they did not have any more hot coffee because the machine wasn’t working so only cold drinks are available BUT I will receive my macchiato. I’m not hopeful but maybe, just MAYBE things will work out – or so I thought.
Approximately another 10-15 minutes went by before they brought me a macchiato. During the wait I received a text from Nitin who was in the same vicinity so he came by to say hello. My macchiato finally came… it was cold… At this point I was ready to punch someone walahy! I really wanted coffee yesterday while I sat and read and it just wasn’t happening. 5alas I was done! I tried to drink it but it was not happening. We sat for maybe another 10 minutes or so and I simply could not deal with it anymore. I wanted to leave. We still had maybe an hour or so before the movie so we decided just to walk around in the department store. Rather than waiting for the waiter to come back with our check I said forget it, I’m going up there. Nitin also had to leave as his friends were waiting for him. So we both stood up, he left and I went to the cashier and asked for the check. I didn’t think things could get even more so irritating but guess what, SURPRISE! It did! When he gave me the check it was a good thing I took a look at it before heading back to the table. I had initially ordered an Ethiopian coffee but did not receive it. Guess what was on the check? THE FLIPPING ETHIOPIAN COFFEE! Really flipping annoying! You know I understand mistakes happen, but this is not the first time where things I (along with other people) have ordered, has not only not been delivered but the item remained on the check. Seriously… beyond flipping frustrating!
So of course, I had to get mean with people AGAIN – which by the way I really HATE doing! I pointed at the check and asked him why the coffee was on the bill. The guy looked at me like I was crazy and speaking some sort of gibberish! This of course, made me even angrier. I had to point at the damn check twice and repeat, “Why is this on the bill??? I never received this!” Finally he was like, “Oh yeah.” What a great response! GAH!!!! I asked for another check with the proper amendments and what does he tell me, “No, I will just give you a new total.” At this point I was ready to yell at him and punch him. It seriously took every ounce of energy in me to take a deep breath and repeat a mantra. The original total was something along the lines of 151 Indian rupees. After he omitted the coffee that I didn’t receive, the new total was 95 India rupees. El 7amdullah he omitted the cold macchiato I received. So I thought to myself… ‘Okay, at least he is being reasonable in that what he did bring me was not prepared accurately, I can deal with this.’ I brought the bill back to Dana to let her know how much her drink was and she gave me 100 Indian rupees. I took it back to the counter and the cashier asked me if I had 5 Indian rupees. I told him no expecting to get 5 Indian rupees back, SURPRISE AGAIN! Instead of getting 5 Indian rupees back he gave me a pack of bubblegum. Walahy I seriously almost leapt over the counter to punch him! I looked at him and seriously I thought I was going to raise my voice. I told him, “Um, NO! I need my change. This is unacceptable and quite rude.” He looked at me and then reluctantly pulled out 5 Indian rupees. This is what I have been dealing with EVERY SINGLE DAY since my arrival to India. I am not a happy person.
Dana and I left and just meandered for about half an hour at the department store. She bought a very nice pair of earrings and I tried yet again, still unsuccessfully to find a place to get my nose pierced. After which we went back upstairs to use the restroom, buy some popcorn and get seats early… This would seem easy enough BUT…
So I bet you’re thinking what the heck is going on!? Well that’s what I thought all day yesterday! I swear I didn’t think going to find our seats in a movie theater would be so flipping complicated, BUT apparently it is… So it’s about 6:35PM’ish at this point, Dana and I go upstairs. First of all, there’s another security checkpoint. They check your bags to make sure you don’t have any food from outside, no bubblegum, electronics, flammable items, and etc. At the checkpoint they wouldn’t let us in because it wasn’t 7:15PM yet… except we wanted to go in early because guess what, the theater has assigned seating… In addition to that, we have to put in a 50 Indian rupee deposit in order to get the 3D glasses so that we can watch the film – oh it’s 50 PER glasses and we have to find our seating. ALL THIS JUST TO WATCH A FLIPPING MOVIE! So damn annoying. Did I mention that we needed to use the restroom as well and that we wanted to get some popcorn? So yes tons of crap to do and one would think that it would take, oh, maybe 10-15 minutes BUT NO, EVERYTHING TAKES A MILLION YEARS! So we wanted to go early to get everything then sit and actually watch the movie from the start. I guess I should have mentioned that the other reason for going early is also because the last time we came to watch Harry Potter, even though we were about 5 or so minutes late, they actually started the movie earlier than the announced time, so we missed more than just the 5 minutes – isn’t this just awesome?
Okay, so the movie. First we had to argue with the security guard about going in so we can use the restroom. He wasn’t going to let us in because he thought we just wanted to use the restroom even though we explained that our movie started at 7:15PM. We had to take the tickets out to clarify to him and even that was a pain as he still seemed reluctant. FINALLY after debating with him for about 5 minutes we were let in. We used the restroom and came out to buy popcorn – should be easy right? HA! Nope! Guess again!! We stood in line and the people behind the counter just watched us standing there without asking or saying anything. When we tried to ask for help they just looked confused! FINALLY we ordered, got our stuff. We moved over to theater room two since that’s where our movie was showing and it’s by the place where they usually hand out the 3D glasses. So we’re waiting there, there’s maybe 10 minutes or so before the security came back and told us not to wait there. What the hell!? We had to move AGAIN because… I don’t flipping know! Nothing makes sense here! Whatever! We moved and within 5 minutes we had to MOVE AGAIN… BACK TO THE SAME FLIPPING SPOT WE WERE ORIGINALLY AT. I swear so flipping counterproductive!
So the movie is supposed to start now right? NO! The move is supposed to start at 7:15PM and guess what… they’re still cleaning! AND they have no glasses… they’re still collecting from the previous showing… WALAHY I don’t even want to start… but c’mon where is the sense of time!? We wait… and wait… finally we get the glasses… had to put in 100 Indian rupees as deposit. We wait at the door till around nearly 7:25-7:30PM before being let in – the movie is supposed to start at 7:15PM. Whatever we’re in and we found our assigned seating. And of course they would start the movie without allotting people enough time to get in and find their assigned seats. So the movie started and half the people are still outside, so they waltz in trying to find their seating and of course they can’t do it quietly either. I am so flipping annoyed beyond belief, at this point it’s not even annoyance it’s just straight being pissed off. One thing after the other… IT’S NEVER FLIPPING ENDING! Whatever the movie starts and I have to say at least people are somewhat quieter than when Dana and I first watched, but c’mon!!!!! It’s a movie, turn your flipping phone off or put on silent and please SHUT THE HELL UP!!!! Can you tell that I’m having a splendid time?
The movie continues and similar to Egypt they have intermission – which is nice IF they gave enough time for people to do what they have to do… Intermission in Egypt is about 15 minutes or so, so people can use the restroom and buy something to eat if that’s what they wanted to. Here in Baroda (since I don’t know if it’s like this with the rest of India) they give you 5 minutes… FIVE!!!!!! So what happens, when the movie starts again people are STILL TALKING and WALKING and INTERRUPTING THE GAH DAMN MOVIE! *sigh* Anger doesn’t even begin to describe… Did I also mention that during intermission the stupid commercials are annoying as all hell! In Egypt it’s quiet or they put on light music; here in Baroda they blare loud and annoying commercials that sometimes cut off half way through then BAM! Loud again… Seriously I am not a happy person!
Intermission ends followed by the end of the movie… which NOW is another obstacle! One flipping door and only one person handling the retrieval of the 3D glasses and the return of our deposit. So Dana and I walk down toward the exit, we seriously wait in “line” since practically NO ONE understands this gah damn concept of a line as they push and shove people out of the way. We finally get to the table where the guy is taking back the 3D glasses and of course as if my day couldn’t get any worse. The guy skips me; he takes everyone’s gah damn glasses but mine. I seriously stood there for 10 minutes waiting for him to take them. If you know me even remotely at all, you’ll know that I’m usually a very cheerful and laidback person. In India, if I am not at work then I am quite possibly mean and angry on the hour every hour, this is seriously mentally and physically EXHAUSTING!! I finally got my 100 Indian rupees back for returning the glasses and I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, I can go back to my apartment and do some reading.” HA… SURPRISE… yet, again…
What was the last surprise of the day!? Well it was the ride back! I am quite frankly, really sick and tired of yelling at people and also really tired of trying to bargain with people. I have been here now for nearly 4 weeks and I know the distance and cost (METER WISE) from my apartment to INOX. It is ONLY 10 Indian rupees – which technically mean that Dana and I could have walked! Yes, it was humid and we thought a quick ride back would be fine and we could get some more reading done. NOPE! This became yet, another damn epic journey! I should preface that rikshaws charge a late night fee to take passengers starting at 10PM. The fee is whatever the original + half the original. So for instance, if the ride costs 20 Indian rupees starting 10PM, when you factor the night charge you would have to pay 30 Indian rupees (20 [original] + 10 [half of of the original]). Our movie finished at 9:20PM, it took us about 10-15 minutes to walk out of the damn theater as explained above. So it was NOT 10PM yet! We tried to get a rikshaw and he tried to rip us off by asking for 30 Indian rupees. He then tried to bull shit (excuse the language) his way and say that it was because of the night charge. I, of course, was not going to put up with this crap! I said, “NO! It’s only 10 Indian rupees and it’s not past 10PM so the night charge doesn’t apply!!” He didn’t want to take us. FINE! I don’t care, there are other rikshaws. We seriously went through 3 or 4 rikshaws. One wanted to charge us 20 Indian rupees, which Dana said she was willing to pay but I said NO! It’s really not about the money what I am really pissed off about is the principle! I can’t stand the fact that so many people here in Baroda, try to cheat others here and there. I have been here for 4 weeks now and I know the relative distances and pricing, I am not stupid and I don’t wish to be treated like a gah damn fool. I don’t care if it’s 100 Indian rupees or 5 Indian rupees, it is rude and I don’t flipping appreciate it nor will I stand for it!
UGH!!! So I told Dana, “NO, I’m not paying 20!!! It’s not that far we can walk if you are fine with that!” We both started to walk towards our apartment and HA, guess what happened?! One of the rikshaw drivers we were debating with finally pulled in front of us and said, “Okay, okay 10 rupees.” … WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO GAH DAMN DIFFICULT!? IT’S SO GAH DAMN COUNTERPRODUCTIVE!!!!!!!
Finally got back to our apartment… I had no energy to even want to read. My head hurt and I was more than pissed off that I just wanted to call my mother and have a decent conversation. El 7amdullah I got to speak with her! I was also fortunate enough to Skype with one of my best friends, Sharaiah and another really good friend Sara from back in the States. Similarly some of my Egyptian friends were also online so I was able to cool down with good conversations.
I seriously feel like I am facing an uphill battle every single day that I wake up! All yesterday, the day started out well then I have no idea what the heck happened! I wish I could say that this is a random or an once in a blue moon thing, but it’s not. This is EVERYDAY! It’s like this morning. I woke up all happy, ready to go to work, and the same rikshaw drivers that see me every morning still tried to cheat me out of money! I take the same 2-3 drivers every morning from my apartment to my work place for 20 Indian rupees and every morning they try to cheat me out of money asking for 25 or 30 Indian rupees. I was late to work this morning because all three of them wanted to play this stupid ass game! I said forget it, walked across the street to find another rikshaw and what happens? One of them drives over to me after arguing with me for 10-15 minutes and finally says, “Okay 20 rupees.” SERIOUSLY?! EVERY GAH DAMN MORNING!!! This is getting on my flipping nerves… I’m seriously tired, so sick and tired of this crap! I hate that I complain so much and there ARE good things about India, but right now the good experiences that I have had in India are so infinitesimal that I am ready to call it quits and just leave. I love my internship and I have always been the person who can find a way to manage and cope with everything else that is wrong if I know my work (job, internship, school, etc.) is going well. But this… I’m ready to pull the plug! This is not good for my health – the not being happy, having to argue with people constantly… this is not healthy. I need to call my airline and see how much it will cost to move my flight up to the 20th of August rather than leave on the 3rd of September. This is preposterous.