Three Conclusions

posted by on 2007.09.27, under India, Travel

Today I spent some time gathering my thoughts on my time so far in India, glanced over the +10,000 words I have written about this trip so far, and came to a few conclusions.

1) I have spent too much time worrying/writing about my driver, Satyam.
2) I have not spent enough time talking about the good people I have met here in Hyderabad.
3) I have spent just enough time talking about cricket.

Though you may disagree with the third conclusion, I will not budge, I love the game. Out of fairness to #2, that is all I will mention about it in this post however.

About Satyam. He left me when I needed him the most. He saw my vulnerability, my dependence on him, and I have a deep suspicion that he tried to take advantage of my generosity and gullibility. We had a good run, him and I, but I have moved on to a new driver, one who speaks no English, bangs on my door half an hour earlier than our scheduled pick up time, mysteriously takes off during lunch leaving me stranded, and up until today had no number for me to reach him at. I haven’t learned his name, and I am ok with it. I am still recovering from the trauma with Satyam.

The story in a nutshell is that Satyam possibly doesn’t even have any kids, or a wife in the hospital, or the history of hardships I patiently listened to during our 3 hours/day. My suspicion for this deception was caused by events that took place last week, when he told me that a new driver would be filling in for a few days, because he had a family emergency. His first explanation was that his wife’s sister had some problems with her scholarship money not going through at her college, she needed him to talk to the head master of the school. The next day, when my friend was in the car, he told some story about a bomb threat at the school, and having to go and help his sister in law. A few days later, after the new driver started, I received a call from Satyam, telling me he was not coming back. His story was that the owner of the car payed him less than what was promised, and since the new driver is able to work for less, he refused to pay Satyam what was originally promised.

Now, I don’t know the truth of this story. It has taken a toll on me this week. I did have compassion for Satyam’s situation, and wanted to find a way to help him out. I’m extremely suspicious that he is lying to me though, as his story doesn’t add up, for why he took those few days off. I overlooked him being late 2-3 times a week, causing me to be late for meetings at my job. I overlooked him asking me for undeserving tips after I had been tipping him above normal expectation, he did buy me motivational posters for my office. But one thing I can’t overlook is dishonesty. Therefore, if I get confirmation that his payment was fair, and he was not promised anything more, I will bid farewell to my first friend in Hyderabad. If his story checks out, I’m prepared to assist in helping him retain his promised salary, out of goodwill. I just don’t know what to believe out here, since discovering how the Chicken 65 fellow had been ripping me off this whole time.

Outside the streets and traffic of the city, and inside the homes of the Hyderabadi’s you will find some of the warmest people on the planet. From reading this blog so far you might think otherwise, but I tell you now that i have only told a part of the story out here. There have been few places in the world I have been in my many travels that had such people, who truly define the word host. I found families that took me in in as a stranger in New Zealand, London, San Francisco, being the wanderer that I am, and today have ended up being people I now consider family. The family in Hyderabad is looking to follow similar suite.

I am staying with a family that is polar opposites of mine, even here in India, but still shares the qualities which make my visits here so memorable. They talk about their family with such pride, share pictures and memories of loved ones no longer around, and have done things to imply that I too, am now part of their family.

After spending much time to myself over the holiday, reading my design books and playing my guitar, I decided to come down to warm up some left over Biryani, since I haven’t bought a microwave yet. (Haven’t needed to with all the amazing meals being shared with me by this family) Rather than just an express microwave session, I was urged to sit down for dinner at their table, eat the leftovers after insisting I didn’t want Aunty to take any trouble, but then being served some of the best tasting French Toast that she had waited since morning to give me. She told me how much her sons loved this meal, and told me that she considered me like a son, and I was deeply touched, while at the same time regretful for not coming down earlier. It is a weird dynamic for me, after having lived alone so long. I try to get by on my own, and avoid having other people fuss over me, but in this case, I am starting to realize that my attitude needs to change. Although I might feel bad about how much trouble Aunty takes over me, perhaps she feels bad when I don’t let her take the trouble, the times I insist I can’t have breakfast because I am late for work, or come home having already eaten dinner. The other day, she asked me if she could mix my rice with the pickle, a south Indian delicacy. First reaction might have been to refuse, as it is a bit uncomfortable, but feeling her warmth, I said OK. With a big smile, she mixed the food with her hands for me, explaining how this kind of food can only be enjoyed when mixed like this. It was true, the food tasted much better after she mixed it.

Yesterday, after my meal, I hooked up this family’s new DVD player for them, as they wanted to show me a DVD of a recent family wedding. My 5 minute microwave voyage soon turned into a 3 hour evening, sharing memories and laughs with both Uncle and Aunty. The neighbors, who are renting a house from them have 2 young boys, same age difference as my brother and me. Out of coincidence, they have also moved here from the US, but their family is originally from Hyderabad. The older boy has taken a liking to me, and was very proud to help me with the DVD installation project. The younger boy, who is full of mischief but very fond of both Uncle and Aunty was also fascinated with what was going on. Perhaps my American accent reminded them of their home in California. Their mother told me that they admire me, and wonder where I am all day while I am in the office. Really nice family. Uncle’s commentary on the little mischievous one is very amusing, and they both light up when around each other.

After the evening, Uncle asked me if I could come home early the next day (today) to go out to eat. I soon came to know that the occasion was Aunty’s birthday. I left the office earlier than usual today, picked up some flowers, and fought traffic to make it home by 7. Soon after, the energy in the room became kinetic, as 2 new faces entered, with a camera, excitement, and bubbly personalities. They were the parents of Aunty’s daughter in law. Both Aunty’s were like sisters, and throughout the new found chaos, I was grouped in the pictures just like family. It meant alot to me, and I enjoyed being around these people on a Thursday night, which in the past has been a prime bar night. A lot of the conversation that goes on is beyond me as Telugu and I are in a fierce battle right now. Every so often someone will repeat what is said in English. Sometimes I wish that I could have this ability in normal conversations back in the US, where I can just screen 90% of talk out, and have someone just repeat the most important/entertaining bits to me. At dinner, there was a young boy running around in a Kulta Pajama outfit, traditional indian clothes worn at weddings and other proper events. Being a stranger, and coming to our table, one of the Auntys picked him and embraced him, as family. I was astonished how this was completely acceptable over here, but in the US might have been cause for a lawsuit. The warmth here extends beyond the climate and the food. Non stop smiles, and humor that even my ignorant ears can pick up from the tone and friendliness coming from the speaker.

Today was a great day, and I have chosen not to comment on some of the political problems going on here, or the interesting news I have gathered that I want to share with you guys. I will save it for another day, as I am content with where I am right now,


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