Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bad India Days

When I first arrived I was lucky enough that somehow the backpacking plans of a friend of mine from Denmark coincided with my arrival. She'd been travelling around for three weeks with her friends. She warned me that some days I would hate India, she said that in their little group they'd made it a joke to just say out loud "Bad India Day" whenever something was getting on their nerves.

Please allow me to share a few of my Bad India Day incidents. I really need to let go of it all...

So a few weeks ago my professor in manufacturing invites me to come along to a conference on Supply Chain Management because the CEO of a very interesting brand called Fabindia is going to speak. Fabindia is a fantastic initiative (I think) to build up a brand around traditional craftsmen. Of course it is criticised for not being fairtrade enough and it was a big thing when they stopped exclusively selling fabrics made on the handloom and began to offer powerloom materials. However, I decided to bunk college for two days for this conference, I bought a book written by the CEO and got myself ready.

So I arrive in this 5-star hotel through the rain, my auto-rickshaw wallah doesn't dare driving through the gates and I end up walking through the massive puddle by the gates. I get to the boardroom, register and get my programme. Mr. William Bissell is obviously nowhere to be seen on this. When later in the day I ask my professor he just does that funny Indian head-shake. Then I ask the person who arranged the thing and he explains angrily to me that it is not his job to make sure people come - it is only his job to invite them. So, the programme which was circulated before the conference started was listing all the people invited, not the confirmed speakers.

Oh well. Now I have a nice little badge to add to my travel diary and afterwards my professor introduced me to the most amazing market ever where I got myself a handloom weaved bed cover, a hand blockprinted sheet and a handpainted silk scarf. I promise you it was worth it.

Another weird thing about India is the lack of addresses. I was desperate to get my laundry done, so I asked  a friend about what to do. He drew a little map of our area and told me to get to Sinatan Dharun Temple. I could easily find a laundry wallah around there. Easily.

So I left my house and just to make sure I asked a guy on the road which way was to the Sinatan Dharun Temple. He gives me a puzzled look and explains to me that there are two temples by that name and they are both very close. So he asks if I am looking for the one in F-block or G-block. I have no idea because the people from class had all said that there are no addresses for these places. So I just decided on the F-block temple. I reach it and when someone from the temple understands that I'm not looking to buy flower necklaces, he takes me to a laundry place on the street. It's a group of people who built a little place outside, I talked to a woman who was ironing with the most ancient iron that I have ever seen. More ancient than the entire collection at Horsens town museum, I tell you. It was basically a container of red-hot burning coals. It is a sight that gave me several nightmares of her incidentally touching a corner of the synthetic lace on one of my shirts. We agreed a very cheap price (no bargaining needed there), and delivery at 8am. I was super happy that they had easily understood my address and I got someone's phone number and all.

This morning at 8.20am I decided it was time to get my clean laundry already and shower with the fresh clean towel and put on some fresh clean clothes. So I call up the dude and he tells me delivery will be 10am. No excuses, just that delivery will be at 10am. All day while in college the nightmare continues that I will be absolutely clothes-less because she touched that monster-iron onto my shirt and is too afraid to deliver back broken clothes. Thankfully though, at 2.30pm when I call to check a third time all the clothes had been delivered. The price had been adjusted of course, but it wasn't bad at all, and my clothes is kind of clean and kind of ironed.

Just one more incident and I think I'm fed up with writing. Several times I have wanted to take books out of the library. At first I still needed to get my id-card, then the desk had closed down without any notice and no opening hours stated anywhere - and then yesterday I finally understood that I had to pay a deposit to be able to do anything. So I managed to fill in the forms, bring the deposit money and get going today. It was a lengthy deal including 3 different offices and half an hour listening to the librarians discuss whether 5.000 rupees was enough or whether I had to go back and pay 10.000. By the end I managed to get all set up, so I approach the desk with the 3 books I'd reserved since yesterday. One was a reference book, fine. But that's when I lost my patience, because I can apparently only issue one book at a time for one week. I really don't know how I'll manage being a student here. LPEs here I come (that's short for Low Price Edition - the kind of book which can only exist in countries without copyright laws).

By the way. I need a friend called Joe to give this to, it's such a pretty note worth five pennies. Bad India Day is over. I think I'm okay now, maybe tomorrow I'll share some market finds with you.

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