It’s been almost six months since the first phase of the Indian Installation and I’m happy to report that our progress bar is now at 100%.
When we first returned to India, we experienced what many call Reverse Culture Shock. Six months hence we know that standing in line for anything is a solid waste of time, energy and space. We now subscribe to the “group huddle” method: Stand shoulder-to-shoulder in camaraderie with the rest of the crowd in front of any counter, lean as far forward as you can, wave your hand at the cashier/ receptionist, and you’ll get a turn. Eventually.
Here is more evidence that the installation is now complete:
1. You know that of all the elusive things in India, getting exact change at a store is as likely as sticking with your diet after January. You appreciate the creativity of shop keepers who dispense “change” that often looks like this:
2. You’re no longer shocked by questions about your rent, your salary or your plan for future babies. You’re not even mildly surprised that the questions come from perfect strangers you just met in the elevator.
3. Speaking of strangers, they wave at your kids in the car, pinch their cheeks in stores, offer to watch your children while you eat a restaurant. And you don’t report anyone. Really.
4. Things you could do with ease before now look impossibly daunting. Do the dishes? Whaaa?? Cook dinner for the family?? Me??
5. You consider buying hand sanitizer and then think, “What’s the point?”
6. If your doorbell hasn’t rung for about 23 minutes, you begin to wonder if the world has ended and you haven’t been notified of the fact.
7. You put used Ziploc bags in the sink. For the maid to wash.
8. The car seats that you brought all the way from America for your precious kidlings now gather dust in your storeroom.
9. You’ll never complain about American airport security again. Not after your handbag is scanned in every Indian mall, your car is screened at hotels and you’re generally considered a highly suspicious shoplifter from a rogue nation.
10. You know that every automated machine comes with a minimum of one human attendee – Want to ride up an elevator? There’s a guy to hit the buttons. Need to take your parking stub out of an automated ticket machine? There’s
two three guys for that.
11. You come to expect three-year-olds in movie theaters. For James Bond movies. Way past bedtime.
12. You accept that chocolate sometimes tastes like sweet cardboard. Also, you need a highly advanced microscope to spot pizza toppings.
13. You walk into Mc Donald’s, KFC or Burger King and the smell of masala doesn’t startle you. In fact, you just might order the McSpicy Chicken burger this time.
14. You’re now used to driving on the left side of the road. Except when it’s inconvenient. In that case, it makes perfect sense to drive on the right. Or, in the middle. You also now know that traffic lights are a somewhat helpful suggestion that have a cursory bearing on whether you stop or go. However, if there is a cow sauntering in front of you, you stop – or there’ll be a beef about it.
15. Your radar is out for anyone visiting the US. You have your shopping list ready. Wait, maybe that indicates that the installation is not quite complete. Oh, well, we’re almost there.