So you may or may not know, that I am currently in India. In fact, I am currently sitting at the mahogany and mother of pearl writing desk in my beautiful hotel bedroom, quite unable to believe that this is actually happening to me. Not long ago, maybe about 6 weeks, during a very busy and stressful time at work, the opportunity arose to come out here and support the new programming team in our Chennai office, and I grabbed the chance for a change of scenery, pace and focus. So on Sunday, I left rainy Swansea for hot and humid India courtesy of PRA Health Sciences! There is already so much for my brain to process, so I thought I'd share some initial thoughts with the ethereal blogosphere.
Stuff that matters here:
- Hospitaility - I have literally never been treated with so much courtesy and respect. I genuinely feel like an aristocrat, with servants who cannot do enough for me - from the hotel staff, to our driver, to the really cute coffee/cleaning lady who gets upset if we don't use the 'best washroom'.
- Quality slogans - my favourite so far is a KFJ Jewellery bilboard, 'For God's most beautiful creation, women.' Subtlety not necessary.
- Beeping your horn every other second.
- Filter Coffee - who knew? Turns out this part of India is famous for coffee not tea, they drink it piping hot with chicory and sugar in a 'tumbler and dabara' which you have to keep passing the coffee between to cool it down. It's seriously good.
- Local food - so far everything that I've had recommended has been delicious, particular favourite being the Appam we had for lunch.
Stuff that doesn't matter here:
- Helmets - There are way more motorbikes/mopeds than cars, but barely any helmets, and often three or even four people on one bike, possibly sitting sideways on!
- Spacial awareness - a lack of space or the presence of an oncoming vehicle/pedestrian/goat is no reason to slow down here.
- Taking any notice of a beeping horn.
- Staring at white people - outside of the hotels, I haven't seen any other white people, consequently we get a lot of stares from fascinated locals. Tonight a stranger even stood next to us as we were having a photo, took a picture on their phone then walked off without a word.
- Juxtaposition of luxury and poverty - this is definitely the hardest bit to get my head around and to know a 'right and proper' response to. I'm working on it, but not there yet.
I'll keep you posted as I get more thoughts! If you have any experiences of your own, or any thoughts for me, I'd love to hear from you :)
Peace and love,