This blog is quite late, I came back from India on July 23rd and wrote it my first week back but I did not have the heart to post it (because I missed India so much) but I think it’s time that I do.
It happened. IT happened. I had coffee with Karan! (Okay, yes and no..). I. Kiran. @apple_kaur, just came back from INDIA. *The* country that I have been fantasizing, day dreaming, imagining, pining and lusting to visit for the past couple of years. I don’t even know where I should begin this blog. I’m getting extremely excited and overwhelmed just thinking about it, so I’ll begin this blog the only way I, a shameless attention seeker knows how; with the biggest shout out to Karan. Two Karans to be exact. Karan Johar. The apple of my eye, the cup of cha on my saucer; my fellow Punjabi. I tweeted you. I had strangers tweet you, I had some of my favorite followers tweet you, I even tried to get #KaranHaveKoffeeWithKiran trend in India but all my efforts went unnoticed by you. I was in Mumbai and the closest I got to you was passing by your flat, and guess what? You weren’t even home! I know this not because I attempted to stalk you (which was initially my plan) but because you tweeted that you were out shooting a movie. I’m disappointed and inconsolably heartbroken that my efforts to score a coffee date with one the cutest, wittiest and most charming men in Mumbai was unsuccessful but I am not giving up. I love you Karan Johar, tweet me, follow me, have coffee with me! We can turn the story of our meet into a movie! Shout out number 2 goes to a very handsome SpiceJet flight attendant named Karan working on my flight from Delhi to Mumbai, my face lit up when I read his nametag. He was tall, dark, handsome, had great hair and guess what? Yes! Karan said the 5 magical words I’ve been waiting to hear for months, “would you like some coffee?” Okay, the magical words I had been waiting to hear were actually “would you like to have coffee with me?” but whatever, he poured my coffee! A gazillion feet up in the air, a girl named Kiran was having coffee with a boy named Karan, granted he wasn’t sitting beside me nor was he drinking with me, and there was absolutely no possibility that our coffee could lead to a game of scrabble, but he offered me a butter biscuit and right there, 5 bazillion feet up in the air and in the clouds melted my heart.
What did I do in India in my 5 weeks? To sum it up in one sentence, I fell in love. Not with a particular person or place, but fell in love with just about everything. That doesn’t mean my 5 weeks in India were peachy keen, of course I am summing it up as wonderful in retrospect. In those 5 weeks I had times where I felt highly uncomfortable, nervous, sick and hot. I cannot say that I experienced everything I had hoped to. I didn’t get to eat everything that I wanted (because after 5 bites of eating whatever it was that I was excitingly eating, my stomach would hurt and 2 minutes later I’d have to run to a washroom (which by the way when they were non-existent they were terribly gross) ), I didn’t get to milk a cow (because there was never a good time to approach one) and I never got to see Punjabis dancing in the fields of Punjab (because apparently I was there in the wrong season). And what I regret most is not watching DDLJ in the DDLJ theater in Mumbai. But I did do some pretty exciting things in my 5 weeks in India.
India is full of men; this is simultaneously a very annoying fact (because they outnumber women just about everywhere) but also very good for the eyes (most of the time, when they’re not scratching their balls openly in public which did make me uncomfortable at first, but then I found it amusing). These men are tall, dark, fit and they all seem to have great hair and they can generally be found in Mumbai and Chandigarh, some parts of Delhi and practically every SpiceJet flight. This hair I speak adoringly of is full, thick, shiny, healthy and heavy and I cannot tell you how many times I have felt the uncontrollable urge (which was controlled only because I didn’t want to get arrested for indecency but mostly because I’m a wimp) to mess it up. Mess it right up like nobody’s business. I remember sitting in a Cafe Coffee Day in Mumbai (which has the best iced tea EVER) one night waiting to meet a friend and this guy came up to talk to me out of the blue. His name was Avi and he had this hair. This long, shaggy, Shah Rukh Khan in DDLJ, rukh jah and play with my hair!-hair. But I couldn’t ask if I could mess up his hair because that would be awkward. Okay, slightly less awkward because my life is a series of awkward moments and allowing this awkward moment to occur would have made for a good awkward moment tweet but, the reason I couldn’t bring myself to ask him was because I’m quite pussy like that, so I asked Raj instead. In the back of an auto heading home to be exact. I think I probably caught him off guard but very politely asked (along the lines of) “do you mind if I mess up your hair?” He obviously said yes with a smile that read I cannot believe you Kiran but I messed it up with a smile that read success! I turned to him and messed it up first with one and then with the other. I didn’t just do it once; nope, I did it twice. Again outside my hotel and let me tell you that it wasn’t anything short of amazing. His hair was perfection, and it felt great in between my fingers and if I had a small colourful clip on me, I so would have taken this hair messing to second base and asked if I could clip his hair. For those 7 minutes with Raj, I felt like Simran. Girls, if you ever go to India and feel the urge to mess up an Indian guys’ hair, do it; and use both hands if his name is Raj.
I had only 4 shalwar kameezes before I left for India and I came back with 13 and that is thanks to bargaining. India is the Mecca of bargaining. You can bargain just about anywhere even if the sign clearly says “no bargaining.” Actually, I am convinced that they put up those “absolutely no bargaining” signs to remind you that you’re in India and to encourage you to bargain. Bargaining in India is unlike bargaining at a local Indian store in Toronto. In Toronto, you’re not offered a seat, water or a cup of tea in but in India they offer you all that before you can say Namaste. In India, my rule of thumb was slashing the price is half and getting the “array, tum kya karey ho?” reaction from the salesman. When the salesman (I say man because rarely will you ever find a woman selling you women’s clothes or jewelry because what do women know about women’s clothing?) says this, he is game. Just know in advance how much you’re willing to pay until he says “how will I feed my children by selling this to you at the price you are asking?!” and if he doesn’t budge then, turn your back and walk towards the door. 68.992652% of the time someone will stop you as you inch close to the door and say “ok ok jee rukho…teekh hai! lo aapka suit.” 5 weeks later you will find yourself shopping for a new piece of luggage one night before your flight because you’ve bought too much. It happened to me.
The Golden Temple is beautiful. The word beautiful doesn’t even do justice to describing this structure. It is simply breathtaking, so much so that you’ll pinch yourself each day when you are there. It is beautiful in the morning and even more beautiful in the night when the gold reflects in the clear blue water and the kirtan fills the evening air. The beauty of the Golden Temple is enhanced by the surrounding marble buildings that invite everyone regardless of their race, religion or caste they belong to in. I still cannot believe I spent 2 nights there. It is so serene that it will make an Atheist, Pantheist, Agnostic or even a crazy stay quiet and in sheer awe for a long while. When you’re at the Golden Temple, make sure you don’t pass up the opportunity to have langar, it is absolutely delicious.
I can’t list everything I did in India because that would take forever but here are some of the things that slapped the Canadian in me when I naively thought I could easily out-Punjabi all the Punjabis in India.
In my first week in Delhi, I thought that I constantly had lipstick on my teeth because anytime I would talk to somebody they would totally ignore my question until I had to repeat it because they would stare at me for the first 20 seconds of me talking as if I was speaking to them in French and they didn’t understand it the first time. People love to stare, I don’t understand why. I soon learned that staring *is* India’s national pass time and remembered that when in Rome do as the Romans. I am now confident in my ability to make Indian people feel uncomfortable.
Fast food is anything but fast. I will never forget ordering a sub at Subway in Chandigarh. I asked for a foot long veggie and it took almost 15 minutes to make it. The sandwich maker was making it with just as much precision and attention to detail as Michael Angelo probably took to paint the Sistine Chapel. This guy was lining up the tomatoes and cucumbers exactly 1mm apart, spreading the lettuce as if there was an international shortage and after adding a topping he would life his head up and ask me what else I wanted when I clearly told him in Punjabi and English that I wanted everything *but* onions. At one point I wanted to jump over the counter and teach him how do his job. I always thought of myself as pretty patient but I couldn’t wait 15 minutes for a sub which means I’m closer to being an American than Canadian right?
When you make eye contact with someone and you smile while passing them on the street, you don’t really make anything of it right? No, you think “that was a warm person” and walk on. Well, one day I was in an auto in Chandigarh and turned around and saw two guys driving a white Benz behind me. They saw me look at their car and so I smiled and turned back around. They sped up to the auto and drove beside it, opening their window and trying to get my sister’s attention so that she can call me. I later learned that you can’t smile to guys in Chandigarh without giving them the wrong impression. Smiling at a Punjabi guy is the equivalent to poking a stranger on Facebook or favoriting his tweet on twitter, he’ll think you want to have his babies. Okay, at least that’s what I think when people favorite *my* tweets.
What’s great about India is that there are so many people but that also means that you are constantly bumping into them. Every other word out of my mouth was “sorry” until I realized that no one was acknowledging my apologies for accidentally touching them. I also realized that no one would acknowledge me wishing them a goodnight which was offensive. I remember wishing an auto driver a goodnight one night in Delhi and he didn’t say anything back, not even a “thank you”. I walked home sad and cried myself to sleep that night. I’m totally just kidding okay!?
I miss India