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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

Manchesterian Musings

Some observations from a 3 week sojourn in Manchest-ah.

--> It is a good idea to confirm which airline the X Ray machine at Sahar belongs to, before standing proudly in line. For example, if the line you are in, shows no signs of moving, and if another X Ray machine nearby is switched on, you are not exactly bright if you switch lines immediately, and give the others behind you disparaging glances. Because that machine is for another airline, and even if it is a waste of electricity by keeping it on, and there is no one else there, you simply cannot use it. No sir. You go back to your earlier line, and two turns away from them rays, you are again told that there is another, third line for your airline. Mind it.

--> The average number of car honks in 21 days = 3. One of them could be for Village Idiots ‘jaywalking’ in response to an ‘Everything must go! (You’re a fool if you don’t buy our stuff! Yes! You!) We’re going out of business!” sign on a shop on the opposite side of the road.


--> In a store like above, if you see an extremely blingy watch for 5 quid, and it has three mini dials on the main one, it is a good idea to check whether those small hands actually move. Chances are they are painted on. And while you are at it, go ahead and check whether the main hands move or not too…


--> Pedestrians are actually capable of being shown some respect. It’s a very rummy thing when you want to cross and the signal is ‘chalu’. You stop, with that road crossing spidey sense on full alert, and hell, the car guy stops too. A smallish Mexican stand-off perhaps? But no, he waves you across, you wave back thanking him, and life goes on with no WTF?!/ “Abbe bh***** ke, dikhta nahi hai kya?” from either party. All in one smooth natural motion. It is NOT a good idea to try the same at home, especially when it sinks in that traversing the Chakala-SEEPZ stretch alone will take a year, and Dadar-Plaza will take a whole generation.

--> The older the cabbie, the crabbier he gets when you give him a couple of directions too many to your destination.


--> When the outside temp is around 1 degree C, it is NOT a good idea to carry plastic bags filled with groceries and milk cartons. You will spend the next half an hour searching for your fingers, and once you’ve found them, the next half an hour goes in willing them to move. Woolen gloves from your friendly ‘Winter ware available’ shop are an illusion of warmth. They shave off 5 minutes from each of the above processes at the max.


--> Indian food is not exactly you know… Indian. And we shall say no more on the matter.


--> Wait. Just a little more… garlic naans taste exactly like that ‘Modern Sweet Bread’ of yore. Either that, or the garlic grown over there is intrinsically sweet in the first place. Either ways, same difference.


--> Food adverts can turn you on. Sample. This brought back memories of possibly the sexiest food related ad ever in Indian TV history. There used to be this brand of spices called Sona from the Brooke Bond stable. This ad used to air in the early 80s, and featured one HOT lady, who is shown to be the darling of the family thanks to Sona spices. She pirouettes about the kitchen, cooking her stuff, and at the dinner table she’s decked up to kill, the husband takes a bite of her erm… cooking… cooking, and the camera pans to close up shot of hottie (sizzle sizzle) wife, whose lips, whose ruby red, perfectly lipsticked (sic), shiny glittering lips, part in slow motion, form an 'O', and her eyes then shut, rolling up slightly as her eyelids close. Fade to spice name, and a cheering, delirious audience. (Apologies for the extended description there, but hey, I used to be one *happy* six year old after watching this. Either the ad left nothing to imagination, or maybe it was just you know… me…)


--> A TV dinner of creamy potatoes in Brie and white sauce sounds incredible, and it is for the first couple of bites. And then, the sameness and cheesy burps slowly invade your senses, till you don’t even know how you are swallowing the stuff, and more importantly keeping it down.


--> Ditto, ditto, ditto and ditto for Thai Sweet and Sour noodles in a cup (60p! 60p!). An antacid/digestive tablet should be gratis with these wonderful, wonderful things.


--> Magic tricks at pre-Christmas parties look really believable once you are three pints and some shots down. And then the magician literally disappears into thin air when the following happens.
Magician: See? That was nice, innit?
Me (Corona, Carlsberg, Sambuca and Tequila all working in perfect harmony): Hee hee hee… yes… yes…

Me (still continuing, but suddenly in an Apu accent) : We aaaaare hiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!!!!

Magician: Right mate, you have a good one. (Poof!)


--> When Biller Chick at one of the Apna Bazaars there looks at you, smiles and says “Welcome back”, and you flash your pearlies back at her, chances are it’s just too good to be true. She says that again, and you smile back even more energetically, and just when you are about to say “I can’t believe I was away for so long! Damn, girl, you’ve got a good memory!” and start thinking up your first pickup line of the evening, she points to a rack of plastic carry bags, and then you cringe. Real bad. Especially when you realize that all she was asking you was “Would you like a bag?” At the end of it, both of you are flustered. You goofily say yes, when all you are buying is a pack of M and M's (the peanut ones of course) and she gets all jittery, and swipes the princely item twice across that barcode reader, and spends 5 more minutes reversing the entry.

--> Mince pies are vegetarian. And so are egg and watercress sandwiches.

--> Chomping down a vegetarian sandwich makes you realize exactly how disparaging the term ‘ghaas phoos’ is.

--> Gujarati dal with raita is a soup.


--> The meanest chocolate chip cookie in the world is made by this joint. Eating one for half an hour is not as stupid as it sounds, especially once you have taken that proverbial first bite.


--> The pigeons out there are ****ing FAT. A little sample of what some sustained and ruthless Requirement And Gap analysis can do to an already rice-and-carb deprived mind is as follows.
Me: Damn, the pigeons sure are fat here.
Colleague : Yep.
Me: And they don’t wear sweaters. Even in this weather.

Colleague: Maybe, just maybe, they look fat, because they are wearing thermals inside.

Me: Yes, yes, that could be it.
Colleague: See what I mean?

Me: Let’s put that down in our list of assumptions…


--> There is a place in time and space, where ‘Chicken Tikka Madras’ exists. And where you never cease to be amazed by that name.

--> There are few things more natural in this world than that good-bye and smile on the face of the Business Class air hostess as you are hauling your Cattle class ass out of the plane.
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11:57 PM, December 28, 2007
Blogger Supremus said...

Man you write so infrequent, but the wait is always so worth it! Awesome trip I must say, and very valid observations. Now it took me only 6 years for this cattlegrazer to come to terms with reality hehehe!!


--> Gujarati dal with raita is a soup.


-- LOL!! And there's a "vegeterian black bean soup" which is normally umm... a bland rajma daal.

Awesom post

S    



8:16 PM, January 01, 2008
Anonymous Phantom said...

Was hoping you'd have some observations on encounters with the Pakistani cab-drivers or the paranoid security-men at the airport or even some functions designed to get some camaraderie going amongst the home-sick Indians    



4:06 PM, January 02, 2008
Blogger arpana said...

nice, very nice. :-)    



8:04 PM, January 02, 2008
Anonymous Sudharshan said...

hahahaha !! had a very nice trip to Manchester i believe..I especially liked the "Indian food is not exactly you know… Indian. And we shall say no more on the matter. " That's exactly how I felt when I landed here. But there are some restaurants in Eastham, London where you can get good food at a reasonable price. Didn't you try going to a gurudwara out of desperation for Indian food (I know a lot of guys do that when they come here to Uk) ??    



12:59 PM, January 04, 2008
Blogger shamanth said...

loved this one :
There are few things more natural in this world than that good-bye and smile on the face of the Business Class air hostess as you are hauling your Cattle class ass out of the plane.

very true!!!!    



12:29 PM, January 05, 2008
Blogger Ashaya said...

very nice observations but did u get a chance to see "MANU" in action and the crazy foot ball fans out there. i have heard that u need to be a supporter of the club to get a ticket to see the match!!!!!

anyways a really nice article worth the wait    



5:17 PM, January 09, 2008
Blogger Tapan said...

Supremus,
Thanks, and yeah... black bean soup indeed :)

Ghost Who Walks,
Didn't have too many of those. Had a couple of close encounters of the cabbie kind, but they are kind of too graphic for this 'family blog'. Will tone them down and post them in a while.

Arpana,
Thanks. Tumba Thanks.

Sudharshan,
Have heard of that gurudwara routine too. :)

Shamanth,
Oh yes.

Ashaya,
No football for me. And thanks...    



5:43 AM, January 10, 2008
Blogger ArSENik said...

LOL...nice read. Looks like your office picked the right time of the year for you to visit the Raj Land apropos the weather. And seriously, what's with that Youtube ad? I had a heavy lunch and yet my tummy was doing the cha cha cha while watching it. Actually, not sure if it was my tummy...    



7:04 PM, January 14, 2008
Blogger GuNs said...

Holy cow!
Were you in Manchester, man? That's right next door to Leeds, where I stay.

LEX, I suppose!

Anyway, if you ever come back, drop me a line.

-PeAcE
--WiTh
---GuNs    



12:00 AM, July 14, 2008
Blogger Tapan said...

arsenik,
Better take a rain check on that... :)

Guns,
Yep. And the chances of that happening are a little remote now, I should say. Will keep u posted...    



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