29 April 2010

More fun at the Infiniti Mall

OK, I may have been a bit premature about the Karaoke guy yesterday. Today I went back to the good ole Infiniti Mall after work, to get a little dinner, and the evening circus extravaganzic activities were in full swing. The Karaoke guy had moved to the stage set up on the ground floor, and there was some kind of contest going on, and they were indeed charging 100 rupees to register. There were supposed to be prizes for winners, but they were a little vague about that, something about coupons. I still didn't want to pay to sing, tempted though I was, because of the stage set up, but I thought I'd have a little fun, so I said to the guys "You want me to pay you ? YOU should pay ME to sing! When SRK does a movie, does he have to pay to be in the movie, or does he get paid to do it? When Sachin plays cricket, does he have to pay to play, or do they pay him to play cricket? So I shouldn't have to pay to sing, you should be paying me to sing!". They all took it in the playful way in which I intended it, and we all laughed about it.

Anyway, it just goes to show that misunderstandings can happen frequently here, even if I'm speaking a little Hindi or Marathi and they're speaking a little English. In the vast majority of cases, no one is really trying to cheat anyone.

Then I went to the display where they were giving samples of a skin lotion for women, which had some skin-whitening properties. I think this one was just cosmetic, a white cream that didn't totally disappear, not lemon juice or anything harsher, but still. I've written about this trend before, and tried to tell the woman working there that Indian woman are beautiful, why should they want to lighten their skin, but she wasn't really interested in getting into a philosophical discussion about it. But she blushed a little when I called all Indian women beautiful, and we laughed a bit too.

Then I got some pav bhaji for dinner and headed home for the night.

28 April 2010

The 100 rupee day

For some reason, people kept trying to overcharge me today. First was the Karaoke guy at lunch. On my lunch break, I went across the street to the Infiniti mall for some pav bhaji (dosas are starting to get jealous because I really love pav bhaji these days). The mall is having some kind of circus extravaganza, including a karaoke machine that you can sign up for. It figures out how well you're doing (like the wii karaoke game) and if you get a good enough score, it's free; otherwise it costs 10 rupee. I know this because last week I sang a James Taylor song and got 99 out of 100, so didn't have to pay.

Today I sang Hooked on a Feeling (ooga chucka, ooga chucka). They didn't want me to do it because there was something else going on, so they kept turning the volume down, but I insisted and they relented, and I sang away, gathering a bit of a crowd, of course. It was really fun, and I finished with an 85 or something. So then, the karaoke guy comes over to me and tells me that there's a 100 rupee charge! Ha! Who does he think he's dealing with? I told him I happen to know that it's free if you get a good enough score, and even if you don't, it's 10 rupee per song. 10! I handed him a 10 and he smiled sheepishly.

Then, after work, I was riding in a rickshaw home, and the rickshaw broke down. So I got out, paid what was owed so far, and flagged down another one. Now in most of India, rickshaws have meters but they are never used. You haggle a price before you get in. But in Mumbai, they actually use the meter, always. So I told the driver where I was going, to Carter Road in Bandra to visit my friend Ramu and his street dosa stand. (pav bhaji for lunch, dosas for dinner, yum!!) And the rick driver says it'll cost 100 rupees. Again, with the 100 rupees!! So I said, nahin-ji (no, sir), meter, meter. He repeated his demand for 100, so I started getting out, and then he said OK, meter, meter. Darn tootin', meter meter. We arrived at Ramu's dosa stand and the cost of the ride was 38 rupee. puh-lease!

(okay don't do the conversion to dollars or I'll look ridiculous. It's the principle! And when I can eat for less than 100 rupee a day (2 dosas from Ramu cost 45 rupes), it's a lot in local terms.)

Nice try, guys. What, do I look like I'm not from here or something?

Oh, as I'm ordering my first dosa, a very well-built guy comes up next to me and orders a plain dosa. He was young and obviously worked out a lot. For a plain dosa, Ramu usually slathers it with butter, and when he did, the guy complained and said he wanted it without butter. I told him, oh, but it's so much better with butter, and he said that he knows, but he has to maintain. I told him it looks like he's doing just fine and he laughed. Then I said I wish i was maintaining as well as he was, and then noted that the butter may have something to do with my lack of, er, maintenance. We laughed together.
Later, he ordered a 2nd plain dosa, and I ordered a plain dosa for my 2nd dosa of the night (the first being a masala dosa, filled with potatoes and spices), and I made sure butter was going on my plain dosa. So there were 2 on the grill, one all brown and buttery, and one without butter, and I turned to him and said "see if you can guess which one is mine and which one is yours". hahahahaha. a good time was had by all.
I don't care if I have a bit of a belly. Those plain butter dosas are crispy and YUMMY!!!!