Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bittersweet India - The People

When I set my feet in Mysore, I see people with different culture and life-style.  It was somehow similar to the world I was raised but at the same time it was not exactly the same. Since I am an Indian origin, almost all people thought that I was native. Some thought I was from Andhra Pradesh, some thought I was from Goa, some thought I was from Kerala, some thought I was indeed from Karnataka itself. No one ever thought I was from Tamil Nadu where actually my great grandpa belonged.

I did not have the privilege of being a foreigner there since I mixed with them appearance-wise. I remembered one incident with a bus conductor. That was my second time riding in a public bus in India and I was not used to with the rush when someone had to get on or get off. I was a bit late in getting off and the conductor started shouting at me while pointing his hand here and there (God knows what he said). I was already tired and hungry that time and when he topped it with that, I could not hold it. I shouted back at him using Indonesian language and he completely shut up and looked at me up and down. I remembered mom dragging me down as soon as she could. Now if I remember it, I think that was really funny that I did that because it made me realized that a fight could be avoided just because both parties do not speak the same language. If I had spoken in his language, I am sure he would have counter attacked me.

I have gone to other countries for vacation and study-tour, but having to stay in India for the two-year study was the first venture since my birth. It was not easy. Food, Life-Style, Language, Directions... It's like learning how to live again. The first day in Mysore, I got a lot of stares from the neighbors. Maybe they saw us looked like Indian but we mingle with people with different race (at that time we were welcomed by native Indonesians, Africans, and some people from Gulf) and we spoke in different English which attracted the attention. However, that did not last for long as the neighborhood where I stayed was welcoming. Those who know English and Tamil would try to talk to us, and those who do not would just smile or use sign language. It was a brand new experience.

After a few months of trying to get to know each other whether in college and social life, I finally found myself stuck with some people who are until now remain good friends who eventually be like a family to me.

I and Nath (an Indonesian girl who came to India in the same year as I do, but different faculty) are the Indonesian buddy for the year. After all the Indonesian seniors left in 2010, we were the only Indonesians left. We lived  nearby (just 3 houses away), we gossiped from balcony to balcony welcoming people to stare at us with our different language, we share the same internet connection to reduce the bill, and we took bath at each other’s place when water is not available at one of our places. We sometimes shop together, hung around together, went out in the evening for Pani Puri or Jelebi (my favorite is the one in KD Road which only opens in the evening) or other chats that Mysore provided. It was fun, especially with Mom keep calling to check us up “where are you? Why this long? etc etc” and if we bought something home, the first remark of Mom would be “Oh My. Why did you buy this much?” I am sure Nath is also familiar with that remark hahahahaha. I like Nath’s way of thinking. An optimist girl with a realistic approach, seldom complain about her responsibilities (she nagged at times but never neglected what came to her hands), and very helpful. I should say that at times I am not that kindJ. And one more thing, we both are FOOD LOVERS. We often went out to the city just to buy Momo (Tibetan dumplings) and when the shop was closed, we would FIND FOOD wherever it took us.

Other than her, I found another adventurous friendship in college community. In the first semester, I did not really have certain people whom I could come to during break time or college-dismissal time. I would hang up with whoever asked me or whoever available around who wanted to be with me. There were other students who came under the same scholarship program as I did and we tend to mingle together. I met friends from Afghanistan, Iran, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Nepal, Laos, Thailand, Tibet, Japan, Tajikistan, Maldives, Eritrea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Fiji, and many other countries.

In the end, finally I belonged to a group containing people from different culture, different mind-set, different attitude, different temper, different skin color, different heights I would say, yet accept each other. Alfred, Marshall, Pravo (the only native Indian), two Tibetan girls, one friend from Fiji, one friend from Afghanistan, one friend from Maldives are the people with whom the strongest bonds exist and private stories are shared. I got along with others too. All the people I met in college are friends that I would cherish for the rest of my life (I cannot mentioned one by one but I am sure you know that you have been a part of my life in India if you know me).

There is a friend who always hug me the first time she met me for the day just to say “Good morning Melu akka”.
There is a friend who called me “Boy” because I share the mentality of boy (no matter how hard I try to be a woman LOL) and that made us share a lot of similar thoughts; The same friend with whom I shared stupid/fun sms during the class about “anything” interesting at that point.
There is a girl-friend who said that she would marry me if I were a guy (shocking news BUT not the first time).
There is a friend who always said that my way of dressing is "elegant and classy" ;;)
There is a friend who called me “sexy teacher” because I helped him with English as he was not very good in that language the first time he joined the course.
There is a friend whom I always banter about philosophy but we never reached the common ground ever.
There is this "naughtier than me" girl-friend who always tickled me whenever she got the chance and made me shriek like idiot and move like an octopus which got electric shock (seriously my shriek could be heard up to 1 km radius and I never know how to get rid of it).
There is a friend who said that I am like a hungry lion when I’m angry (I’m a Leo so can’t help it. It’s in the blood I guess).
There is a friend who said that I am crazy (what is life without a crazy friend, right folks?).
And there are many others who have imprinted me with their own uniqueness and be there when I needed them.

I miss all of them right now. I miss the bike ride to KRS Dam (my skin burnt like hell when I reached home). I miss the trip to Srirangapatna. I miss the trip to Ooty and so many other things.  I and some close friends made a promise that we would arrange for a reunion in Hawai’i in 2030 J… It was said at the spur of moment and it has been repeated since then. Hopefully it could be realized. Amen J.

That’s all for tonight folks and I shall share my college life on the next posting. Before I say Good Night, I wish to share something that Mr. N said today during dinner. He said one small story that goes like this:

There were 2 boys on the top of the tree reading books. After some time, one passer-by saw them and asked “What are you doing up there?” and the boys said “We are doing our higher education” ;)

Have a joyful evening with your family, friends, and whatever you enjoy to be with J. Be blessed!

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