Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Glad to be Back? Well I was........

Me boating on the River Severn, UK
Look at that relaxed face
I am back from a 5 week holiday in the UK and was feeling happy, refreshed and ready to take on the daily pressures of India once again...Well, that was until I asked Sunita our maid who speaks fluent English, to go out and get us some toothpaste, you know standard, everyday toothpaste that you use to clean your teeth and prevent cavities? Nothing complicated about that, or so I thought.....
‘What type of Toothpaste would you like Maam?’ Sunita asked
‘Just standard, everyday toothpaste please, Colgate original mint in the red box is fine.’ I replied 
10 minutes later she was back, ‘Here you go Maam’ she said and handed me a red box.
‘Errrrrrrm, Sunita, sorry, this is herb flavor, I asked for mint?
‘ Sorry Maam I could not find, this is ok.’ She replied.
‘Well, (nervous laugh) actually Sunita this is not ok, I just want original mint, we don’t like this flavor can you go and change it please.’ I replied.
‘Ok maam’ she replied and left for the slum.
15 minutes later she was back ‘Here you go Maam’ and handed me another red box.
I looked at it, ‘Sunita, this is spicy flavor Colgate??’ I replied, shocked that she had got it wrong again.
‘Yes maam, very good for teeth’ she replied confidently.
‘But I just told you I only wanted mint flavour, standard, original, mint flavor? Can you swap this, any brand is ok as long as it is mint.’
‘Ok Maam!’ she replied and left the apartment in a huff.
20 minutes later Sunita returned ‘Maam I have this' and handed me yet another red box.
‘Sunita!!!! Are you serious???? This is Lemon flavor not mint??????’ I yelled, reaching the end of my tether.
‘Maam’ Sunita replied ‘India is very different to UK, we do not have mint toothpaste’
Taken a back at the bare faced lie I replied sternly, ‘You and I both know that is a big, fat lie Sunita, I have lived here for 12 months and have had many a packet of original mint Colgate!’
‘Maam! I do not lie’ Sunita snapped back, clearly very upset that I accused her of lying and walked away.
 Flabbergasted at what at just happened and how upset I was over a tube of toothpaste I sat down and poured myself a large glass of whisky (and by whisky I mean water) to calm my nerves.
Sunita went out, 10 minutes later she returned and put something on the dining room table and left for the day. As soon as the door closed I got up and went closer… it was yet another toothpaste box, I picked it up, it was…MINT Toothpaste and not just any mint toothpaste Colgate Whitening, I was elated and I felt a sense of victory. 'They don’t sell mint toothpaste in India!' Pah!
No words have been exchanged between myself and Sunita since and there won't be... until I ask her to go out and get me a light bulb tomorrow... should be interesting!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saree Doesn't Rhyme With Anything! Fact!

When it comes to shopping for local merchandise in Mumbai I've come to find that the crappier the shopping centre looks from the outside the more likely you are to find a gem on the inside; which is why for my Saree shopping adventure I chose the almost derelict Maker Arcade which has served me well in the past as it is home to Mr Patel's Wine Shop and the chemist that cured my piles.  As I approached the arcade, as always the stares were intense especially from the men at the stationary shop, stand shed which always seems to be rammed with people buying HB pencils, who knew stationary would be so popular in Mumbai?  Theo Paphitis would make a fortune! But I digress. 
I made my way down the isles searching for a shop to purchase my first Indian outfit from and before long I see one. I walked in feeling nervously excited to find 10 men crammed into a area as big as tuk, tuk eating their lunch, 'Errrrrm hello' I said slowly yet clearly, 'Can I take a look at your Sarees please?' 'Eating later, later' One of the men said whilst spitting chapatti into my hair. To be honest I half expected them to see my white face and Louis Vuitton handbag, jump to their feet, discard their food and start wrapping me up with an array of different sarees if I liked it all not, but that wasn't the case so I carried on.  After being distracted by the stall that sold used flip flops I found another Saree shop and entered. It was quite lovely; floor to ceiling shelves full of sarees and a long desk for, well i'm not sure what it was for actually but it looked nice. As normal the shop was far too small for its 1000 staff but I didn't mind, in fact it was amusing to watch them shuffle every time I walked too close.