Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things I've Learned in India (so far)

So... I've been in India (Chennai, to be exact) for about a month now. I'm starting to settle in and become accustomed to India's quirks, faults, food, and people. In my relatively short time here, I've learned some things...

1. In India, farts are scary; you never know what might happen. (no I haven't soiled myself…yet)

2. People will pee anywhere. Men, women, dogs, name it. I've seen women in saris peeing in plain view, I've seen men on busy streets, in fact, I saw 4 men peeing on my 6 km (3.7 mi) round trip to work today.

3. Food in India is nothing like Indian food in the US (at least in my experience). I loathed everything Indian that I'd ever tried in the US, with the exception of my friend Chintan's samosas. Here, I've loved nearly everything I've tried, with sambar, dosais, and onion uttapam leading the list of favorites. One more thing…Indian food is SPICY. Not America spicy; FLAME-THROWER spicy. I've had tears rolling down my face on more than one occasion (and what I consider spicy, many of the people I've encountered consider bland).

4. American food ingredients are VERY expensive. For example, pasta can cost the equivalent of $3/lb. Pasta sauce? $5 for a jar of Prego or Ragu. I'm not devoted to my American food, but every once in a a while, a $2 box of Kraft Mac & Cheese can transport you home.

5. TV, even when aired in English, often has English subtitles. I can't figure it out.

6. Tamil, the language of Tamil Nadu (the state where Chennai is) is very hard to understand. The people here speak so quickly, and even words I know I have a hard time understanding. It's like a daily tongue-twister competition. I have no idea how the words roll off their tongues the way they do.

7. Indian snacks kick ass. Their biscuits (cookies), candy, crackers, chips, and other Indian snack foods are downright addictive.

8. Bananas are delicious, white guavas are not.

9. (Most) Indian people are sweet. They've always got a positive attitude and a willingness to help.

10. The flight here is SO. EFFING. LONG. I traveled for 30 hours. THIRTY. HOURS. I remember falling asleep on the flight from Brussels to Chennai, and waking up after what felt like a lifetime of sleeping, only to discover we were over Abu Dhabi, only 6.5 hours into our 10 hour flight.

11. Skincare is going to be fun to find here, since everything I seem to find is 'Skin Lightening', and about the last freakin' thing I need is to get any paler in this country. As if being a blue-eyed redhead and so pale I'm nearly translucent didn't get me stared at enough…

So that's it for tonight… I've learned more things, but I think I'll spread 'em out. :-D


  1. Love it! I look forward to more of these entries! :]

  2. How fun, new adventures and explorations. I do hope you never experience soiling your pants. I wish you could send me some bananas. I read somewhere that bananas with seeds had been genetically altered to the point there were no more on the planet, so I am happy to learn they lied.

  3. I look forward to reading your adventures in India! Sounds like a wonderful experience!

  4. Can't wait to hear more about your experiences in India!

  5. Grew up with a family from India next door...this makes me miss them & glad they were here ;)Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

  6. I've been an expat for 15 years. Here's what I've learned when it comes to American food. I can go searching for it pre-made, or in the case of Mac & Cheese in a box, or I can make it myself. I've gotten pretty good at making alot of the things I miss from home. You eventually come to the point where those high prices wont' even make you bat an eyelash at them. You'll also learn to substute alot when cooking.
    Best of luck and have fun in India!

  7. Good to know you're having a good time.. Btw.. I'm half Tamilian (my mom's from Tamil Nadu) so let me know if you need any help.. Have a great time here! :)

  8. hahah! im a chennaitie =)chennai is fun when you go exploring into little coners of it! and yes all of my friends from the us and the uk cannot stand the amount of spice i eat, its makes their eyes water and the go and intresting shade of pink =D

  9. So great to hear from you and know that you finally (long flight and visa issues aside) got there! It's so awesomesauce that you're sharing the experience with us! Can't wait to hear the latest.
    And in regard to people peeing anywhere, just treat your shoes like biological weaponry, and leave them at the door of your abode...in short, just the same as if you were living down the alley from a nightclub or sports bar in the US!

  10. I am SO jealous of you right now! I am fascinated by Indian culture & history. I can't wait to visit. As another pure white ginger, I'm sure I'll stick out as well!

  11. Hey Melissa! I'm so happy you're documenting your adventure. I'll always been interested in visiting India (the food!, the colors, the henna. . .) so it's awesome to read the first-hand experiences of an American over there. I'm glad to hear you're getting used to it all! Can't wait to read more.

  12. Hi, Where are you we miss you. :-)

  13. Hey, I just accidentally stumbled onto ur blog from Pinterest... Love your nail blog!!! But I thought I could be of sum help when it came to the skincare and ideas... You can create your own balms by warming up certain oils (like olive oil, coconut oil etc) and adding the wax from the honeycomb... I think you grate in like a tablespoon to every cup, but I forget.... and then add essential oils or let the plant steep if you find fresh.... like lavendar, tea tree, chamomile, breaking open the vitamin e vitamins that you can take as a daily vitamin, vitamin a/b etc... if you do some research you can figure out what your skin possibly needs.... I also use Vaseline to remove my makeup and sometimes b4 bed, it may be one of my greatest discoveries... natural face scrubs u can use are some kind of base oil, like olive oil, with either salt or sugar (try to use something more coarse tho) mixed with essential oils that haven antiseptic properties... After you mix them you can put them in jars and have enough for awhile... I have had to start searching for all of these more natural ways of doing things because for some reason I seem to be allergic to an ingredient in most lotions that come out anymore... It seems that most of the ones I am not allergic to come from small Amish communities and have all these natural ingredients and are not that hard to make!!! Just thought I would pass on some of my research....
    Also... there are lots of masks that you can make using stuff like papapya and honey and cinnamon and ginger... all things that are very good for your skin...
    As far as comfort foods...pasta is relatively easy to make and can be made in about five minutes... you can do it with flour and water or egg, flour and water... and you don't need any fancy equipment... some you can just roll out little long "worms" between your hands like we did as kids to make the pasta or roll it out flat, cover with flour and fold in half then kinda roll it up.... cut it in half... move them side by side and cut your pasta into however wide you want... and tomato sauce is easy to make as well... there are millions of recipes out there on the web.... but i make mine and put it in my freezer and keep it forever... so I have ready made meals..... and as far as the pasta... you can dust it with flour and let it dry and then bag it up so you have your traditional meal....
    anyway.... hope this helps a bit...

  14. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks
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