I will see you in ten minutes. Our time or Indian time? Our time. Having lunch with the only Croatian girl in Ahmedabad but me, really special feeling. Even though there is like 8 million people living in the city it is really hard to find someone of your nationality, especially when it comes to a Croatian one.
It’s been long ago, that all of us living here, not regarding the country we come from, have realized that Indian clocks simply work in different way than ours. So when they say it’s ten minutes , it’s at least, really at least 40 minutes of our time and this joke with Indian time has become part of any international conversation that includes meeting somebody. My Croatian friend is here for the job as well, Ahmedabad is really not one of the popular spots for tourists. Right after all the current topics in our country I breathed in the smell and dust, covered my mouth with scarf which I use for hiding blond hair ( really useful in India) and took rickshaw in order to get home. I’m already an expert in checking on the meter they use for measuring kilometers in order to charge the drive. The thing is; they don’t often put it on zero when they pick you up, but how to blame them? They’re just making a living. So, if you ever travel in India, make sure you’ve been put on zero, it’s the same in every city. With constant endless horns and foggy sunset I have come to the conclusion that time runs extremely fast in last few weeks making me already feel like home in this chaos. I have discovered many new things and realized that it was about time to share some things with you.
Finally days off from the office and writing articles and news for rich and successful Americans in my different Indian reality. Oh yeah; irony is a small word for my life here. On everyday basis I write about last trends in technology world, most successful companies, guys who are able to buy an island while i do it from a building which is surrounded with hundreds of people living on the streets, people who can only dream about life far away from trash. Sometimes seems like many here don’t see it as a problem; for them people living on the streets are not from the castes that deserve better. I often get a feeling that there isn’t many of us who feel like crying when we see half naked children living next to the road which is dangerous even when being in a car. Why days off finally? India is celebrating Diwali and their New Year.
Diwali and New Year’s
From all the adventures and experiences in last few weeks I will this time share one of the most special ones. Celebration of the Diwali and Indian New Years. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the most important holidays in India, something like Christmas for “our” countries. The celebration was one of the best experiences I have had so far in India, since I got the opportunity of celebrating it with local people in their homes, I was a part of this in a different way than being just an ordinary tourist. Although it was a little bit strange and sometimes funny for a girl from European world, it was more than a privilege. Again I would be happy if I could describe all the ways they do it, but no way to do that, some things are universal, but again all those castes have their own way and it represents something similar but also different for each of them. All together in their religions they have over 33 million of gods to worship and look at us, while we have issues and wars for only one or two of them. First fascinating thing about Diwali were ornaments made out of colored powder in front of every apartment, office or house.
Diwali afternoon brought me to an office, where we were allowed to attend blessing of the office and computers with ” waiting” for goddess Vishnu, the one that brings success in business. All in all it was amazing to see the performances and traditional activities for Diwali and one of the best ways of getting to know with Indian culture. At the end it made me thinking; to be honest our way of celebrating Christmas is not that different in its own essence. Here they prepared the sweets for their God, a bath and some money, which was taken by the “priest” who was doing the blessing. So I don’t know for your country, but in mine priests also get the money after sprinkling few drops of sacred water on Christmas tree. Are we that different in the end?
And just when I thought I got some clue about celebration of Diwali, at least in Gujarat/Ahmedabad, since there are differences in other parts as well, we have spent the Diwali night at friend’s home with her family who are Hindus, but some sub caste as part of Hindu, I realized I have no clue again. At her home traditional activities were different than the ones I was a part of, earlier that day. There wasn’t that kind of “priest”, instead men were singing by themselves first, then women and then all together. If I had the opportunity of being in Jain house or a Sikh I believe the celebration would be different again. The thing that was in common to every family in the whole city , were firecrackers and fireworks on each step of the way. They burst all of that as much as they can, since they believe in driving away evil spirits in that way. It would all be great if anyone cared about the safety, any kind of it, firecrackers were burst on the streets but on the roads too, so nobody seemed to care that there were cars, rickshaws and all the other ways of transportation coming through, for which firecrackers could have an effect of a bomb. If you want to see why the drive to friend’s house that evening was almost like being in the middle of the war you have a link to the video underneath. For me it was amazing and fun, but for my German roommate for instance, huge stress.
Day after Diwali is New Year, it would be insane to expect that anyone cared enough about the trash on the streets after all those firecrackers, cars passing through will disperse it all around any way. Long lived the Indian way of solutions for the problems.
And there is something else finally, ..I have a home, Indian standards/ having a shower with warm water becomes possible only during the day when the water heats itself due to the heat outside, but still it’s a home. Consequently my boss doesn’t have to have me at his place anymore. At his place I was like a Cinderella, cut out of the social life, since it was too dangerous to leave the place after dark at that part of the city, so besides home a have a life now as well. I found the apartment by myself of course; if I had waited Indian organization including their way of measuring time I would have been at bosses place till Christmas probably. Indian time. Legendary French guy, his cool Spanish girlfriend, girls from Mexico and Germany and me the Croatian chick, all under the same roof through good and bad.
Man would say typical situation for any big modern city, but you see it is very specific when it comes to Ahmedabad. There really isn’t too many of us from other countries here, so it often comes to that you know almost all international people here and they all know you. So thank God I really love all of my roommates cause we don’t get many options of choosing here. All of us here are constantly hanging around together, stick together like a glue, it is for sure easier for us to adopt to this world; really different from the one we left behind. We live in country of Gujarat, dry country where alcohol is forbidden, so there are no clubs where you could party and meet new people in the way we usually meet them. Here you work , live , sleep, travel, eat… with the same people, often 24/7, so if this doesn’t teach you patience nothing will. I sometimes get a feeling we are a part of Big Brother show here, if you let’s say kiss someone, tomorrow all the expats know about it. But there is a great part of this situation as well; we become more close much faster, than we would somewhere else, we see us as friends faster than we would at home. I believe this also must be one of the reasons why many fall in love with the place. Every week we gather few times at someone’s place, but just few of us have the option of having guests after 22pm, so there we enjoy hardly purchased alcohol. There are places to buy it, but even for that we have to get the permission, which being an expat allows us to get it, but of course even we have a certain limit for the amount. Even more often it happens that we are being kicked out of the apartments when having a party, which aren’t even close to the wild parties. If you are really lucky like my friend Stan you become the legend who got to be homeless two times in ten days time for organizing parties. When you think this is crazy let me remind you that meat and fish are here also really hard to get, not maybe forbidden like booze, but still there are just few places to buy it and not too many restaurants with, so all those huge stores are absolutely without it.
Part of our small international society are also some local friends, who actually really love us , besides with us they are enriching themselves with international friends and make our lives here much easier and getting us more familiar with the true life here.
Horoscope as a precondition for marriage
I honestly don’t know what to share with you among all the things that leave me speechless every day. For instance a girl from my office took me to a marriage biro in meantime. Yeah you read it right, majority of marriages are still being organized and besides they have to be within the same caste, it is still real situation. For this reasons they still have offices or biros for finding them life partners. Of course there are more open minded families that don’t force their children into things like marrying in that way, but I’m talking about majority here. Some of them are my friends and are aware of the real situation, where young people often have to choose between love and talking to their families for the rest of their lives, or even better it still happens that they get killed if they run away with somebody from different caste. And the punishment for killers? Well, hm.. it often just happens that nobody knows if they are being punished. I would like to be able to explain the way how the castes and sub castes are exactly divided, but don’t think even next few years of studying that wouldn’t make me capable of doing that. For sure basic way has to do with religion; Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, …but then there are many, many other divisions among them really hard to know them all. It all comes to that it is all about in which family you were born in and that shapes most of your life in advance. Something that happened hundreds years ago has a reflection on your whole life today if you are part of this world. Beautiful India.
Visiting that marriage biro was for me/ typical want to be emancipated western unmarried female in her late twenties/ almost like life time experience, somewhere on the thin line between fun and tragedy. So specific that it deserves to get a blog of its own in some near future. Just to make you interested Horoscope is one of the main conditions for your future marriage, so when you think you read “that crap” too often, just remember what you read here. In India if your horoscope combination isn’t promising, if the chances for success aren’t too high according to Horoscope: NO matrimony!
Of course I went through potential candidates, but nothing for me, first of all I don’t belong to any caste and besides I’m almost too old already, to sum it up; I don’t stand a chance.
In this chaos of ours I would like to say that I hardly wait to get back to my country, but when I read news from Croatia it makes me wonder. Yes I hardly wait to see everyone I love, but things people often see as problem and how much money are they are about to spend on certain things in the current economical situation, makes me just want to fly over the country on a way to some other. Politicians who end in jail next to ex prime minister for robbing the whole nation and that same nation doing nothing but worrying about destroying gay friendly environment which many of us were trying to built for years, just leads me to the conclusion that sacred cows on the roads are not issue at all when compared to moral insanity at my home country. And if I think of all those young beautiful girls marring old rich guys, arranged marriages become less hypocrite and more logical solution. Namaste!