A couple of months since I have rambled on this web platter! Hope ‘All is well’ with you guys.
Last month, me and MG were on a vacation to India. ‘Vacation’ would be the wrong term considering our tight schedule and time crunch - SIL’s wedding, scorching heat, shopping, draping heavy silk sarees around, visits to near and dear ones, visa stamping, sugar levels shooting up after being pampered with an array of desserts, lots of talking to do with very less time. Sigh..I was almost running out of juice. But, how could I not muster up all my energy when kind faces with love gleaming in their eyes were all super happy about our presence? In the midst of all these, trust me, Dad’s hugs and Mama’s nurturing does a lot of magic!
Alrighty, now it’s time to go to Chennai. Why Chennai? Gosh, our visa had to be stamped there. God bless the Chennai residents to face the rising temperatures which could literally burn you out and make you look like a burnt carcass. It wasn’t even summer and it was almost hitting 100F (37° C) already. Ugh! I wonder how summer feels like in Chennai.
We set out to take an auto-rickshaw from our guest house to the American Consulate which was less than 3 kms away. Auto fares in Chennai are mind-blowingly exorbitant and ruthless auto drivers demand anywhere between Rs. 80 to Rs. 100 in place of Rs. 30 or straight away refuse to come, leaving us high and dry. Their auto meters just add an aesthetic value to their 3 wheeled carriage and never gets the privilege to roll digits. I realized, how mean I was all these years to complain about my fellow Bangalorean auto drivers, who are at least sincere enough to turn on meters. Meters showing a few extra bucks, refusals to port us now and then, are at least, pardonable compared to the unruly Chennai Auto drivers.
After some bargaining in my broken Tamil, we finally made our way to the consulate. There we were, at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, sweating like pigs in a serpentine queue along with lots of fellow-desis, who were there to get a gate-pass to realize their American dreams. The consulate looked nothing less than a gate to hell/ heaven where security officers looked like Dwarapalakas( guardians at the gate) waiting to check us from top to toe. After clearing the security test, we were escorted by a lady to the waiting chamber. In these anxious moments, with the prospects of visa getting rejected, Mr. Consular looked like Chitragupta(Hindu God who decides whether one has to go to hell or heaven upon death depending on one’s deeds on earth) whose seal was eagerly awaited. Mr. Chitragupta errr, the Consular granted our visa and we both sighed a sigh of relief.
On our way back, we boarded an auto abruptly. Here’s a conversation between us and the auto-driver:
Auto-driver(enquires in English with a tamil accent): “Madam, sir, visa done?”
Us: “Huh? Oh, done, done”
AD: “Congrats!” (Turns a 30 degree turn and shakes MG’s hands with a 1000 watt smile and escapes a close hit to the car in the front)
MG: “Eh,eh car.. Thank you!”
AD: “You, North India?”
Us: “No, Bangalore”
AD: “Oh, ok ok. What visa? L1 or H1?”
Us: Startled by the knowledge of Auto driver we answer, “L1” looking at each other’s faces
AD: “H1, 5 rejections today Ma’am”
Me: “Amava?” (Is it? in tamil)
AD: “Oh, you speak tamil?”
Me(smiles): “Hmm, konchu konchu” ( a little bit)
AD: “First time US?”
Us: “No, 2nd time”
AD: “US nalla irka ma?” ( How is US madam?)
US: “Hmm, Romba nalla irku” (Very nice)
We were very happy with the fact that he had some General Knowledge and excellent communication skills.
MG: Alighting the auto, enquires, “How much is the fare?”
AD: “70 sir. But, everyone coming from America giving in dollars Sir. Give 8, 10$ sir. What sir, madam, your visa done. All happy happy. Eat hotel. Give dollars”.
At this juncture, “Do you think we should have budged and paid in dollars for his excellent personal skills OR the actual fare?”
Kind or Fair ?
We chose the latter.
Have a great week ahead.