Every country has some things that are peculiar and make it a special feature of that place. Take for example the US, while the rest of the world drives a right hand drive, they drive the left hand drive and pull up at gas stations for refuelling instead of petrol pumps. And although I have been born and raised in India, after having lived abroad for over a decade, when I recently moved back, I was able to discern some distinctive (some annoying) things about our lovely country, which, I wouldn’t have, had I not lived elsewhere.
So here’s my list-
This one word can evoke the most transformatory changes that seem physically impossible to obtain. Jugaad in my opinion is the grand daddy of all innovations and while the rest of the world can flaunt their hacks, we are proud of our Jugaad; be it the kitchen, a farm or even a lab. And by the way, Jugaad is not just about hacks, it is even an imperative part of our daily vocabulary. For instance, when in need use, “yaar kuch jugaad karna please.”
Aunty, Uncle, Behenji and Bhaiya
While the rest of the world may address people other than family and friends by their name regardless of age, we in India are extremely inclusive. Right from the neighbors to strangers on the street get addressed with aunty, uncle, behenji or bhaiya, who cares if we are not related. Here everyone is family!
The Incessant Change Shortage
And speaking of Bhaiyya; our baniawala, doodhwala, newspaperwala or any other walah, never has change for their bills. There seems to be this emergency situation when you hand them a 2000 or a 500 rupee note. The look on their face is that of dejection, as if we have handed them a poisonous snake. “Chutta do na Behenji.” And finally when you have squirmed through your the innumerable compartmets of your purse and finally found that 100 rupee note, the one rupee change becomes the issue. Sorry, “Ek Rupiya nahi hai, nimbu le lo, eclair le lo.” Seriously can the RBI honestly get rid of all coins? Or will that terribly affect the sales of Eclairs?
No Indian address will be complete without these prepositions; near, opposite, behind and above. And God forbid that bank near your house moves, even GPS would not be able to get your parcel delivered correctly. Why can’t our addresses be straightforward, short and simple?
Forms, ID’s and Photos
Despite the technological boom, we still have to fill a ton of forms everywhere we go right from college/school admissions, to address change to even getting a sim card. And not just that, we need to submit our photograph for every darn thing. Why? Isn’t my photo ID enough?
Save, save save!
Everyone loves to save a buck or two, but in India our saving skills are way more advanced. Why buy a dusting cloth when an old t-shirt would suffice? Why buy a new tube of toothpaste just yet, when the rolling pin can extract enough to get us by for another week? And this one which is the most atypical of all is watered down Dettol hand soap. Why do we love to dilute liquid hand soap with water? It is something to clean our hands, with which we eat, spare that at least. Perhaps the makers of Dettol should include a ‘Disclaimer: Diluting this hand soap will not make it last longer, as you will end up using twice as much.’
Driving Sense! Who are you kidding?
This one takes the cake, literally. I could write an entire thesis on how to improve driving sensibilities of Indians at large. Here’s what happens in some instances that I often face-
– If you want to make a right turn, start driving diagonally across half a km away from your turn. Never mind if you block the oncoming traffic
– If you want to overtake, just do it. Never mind from which side, even if the vehicle in front of you has indicated that they want to turn. And by chance your vehicles collide, even though it is your fault, curse at the vehicle in front of you
– And yes, don’t forget to exercise your birth right to honk all the time, especially when the traffic lights turn green, because of course the vehicles in front of you can’t see that it has turned green or perhaps they have decided they want to snooze.
– Oh and remember when you ride a two wheeler, traffic laws don’t apply, so go bonkers!
The concept of line does NOT exist here like rest of the world, well, except at the airport sometimes! Generally when asked to form a line, we form a trapezium or a triangle at best. About time we learn something from the ants.
One by Two
The indigenous one by two concept is the one that I love quite frankly. Most often used at restaurants, this one ensures that both the bill and the belly don’t expand.
By the way in all honesty, despite these idiosyncratic and unique ways of our country, I absolutely love India and wouldn’t live anywhere else unless the restaurants stop honoring the one by two request. Just kidding!
PS: Would love to know your observations of our wonderful country, so do share in the comments section below.