Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More About India

Goa is overrun by the laziest, happiest, itchiest dogs we have ever seen. It's wonderful to see confirmed everything that Cesar Millan has said about what makes dogs happy. The dogs form a large community, and none of the dogs is the slightest bit misbehaved -- the pack has a standard of acceptable behavior that is expertly enforced from within. Only a tiny black puppy near the Rocket Cafe gets out of control sometimes, and when that happens, older dogs come along and gently shut him down. No dog has growled at me, tried to bite me, or run from me in abject terror. They all approach calmly, if they approach at all. Every once in a while all the dogs along the entire 2-mile stretch of beach start howling at the same time. It's awesome, and I hope to get a recording for you soon.

It makes American dog ownership -- especially any kind that does not happen on a farm -- seem really cruel and weird. I don't want one weird neurotic dog in my house. I want a pack of happy, balanced dogs in my yard, playing with the goats and cows and so on.

A day after we got to Kochi, Ben asked us two questions in a text message: "are you frustrated with India yet? Are you peeing out of your butt yet?" The answer to the latter is still, thankfully, no -- for me and Bridget. But to the former, we say yes:

This hasn't happened to me much, but apparently Indians are weirdly squeamish or superstitious about their paper money. One newsstand vendor tried to reject a 100-Rupee bill because there was a small, 5mm tear on its corner. I directed his attention to the portion of the bill where its value is guaranteed by the Governor: "I promise to bay the bearer the sum of one hundred Rupees" and pointed out that nowhere does it stipulate "... as long as the bill is in mint condition."

Ben says that people also don't want to accept "old bills" -- and not old in terms of worn-out, or dirty -- old as in they were printed five years ago (or something), no matter what their condition. Indians will only grudgingly accept torn or old bills, because only banks (and foreigners, I suppose) will accept them. Dear India: this is stupid. If everyone just stopped being stupid in this way, everything would be a whole lot easier for everyone.

Text Messages and Advertising Calls
Our new Indian SIM card in our phone (which you may recall we had to show our passport and provide a new photograph in order to buy) lets us make calls all over the world, which is great. It was also pretty cheap, which is nice since we'll only be using it for 30 days. But we get around 5 automated calls and 10 text messages a day from the carrier, AirTel, telling us about all sorts of great features and products that could be mine. Each call or text costs me, the recipient, 1 Rupee (about
US $0.02) but it is just really really annoying. Luckily, there is an Indian Do Not Call Registry!

So I followed the instructions for registering our phone number, and this is what I got in return from the helpful registry:
Thank you for registering your phone with the NDNC. All promotional communications to your AirTel mobile should stop within 45 days from now.
Ha ha ha. You win this round, India.

I didn't talk about food yet. Next time, maybe. Also: scooters, snakes, Israelis, and chilly peppers.


  1. what about the 1/2 hour time zone? that drives me crrrrazy.

  2. When I was in India about ten years ago, I got a lot of money that was so old as to be almost worthless. From what I hear, for a long time they didn't have any real process for withdrawing old cash from the pool of money (as the United States does--there is a process for taking old worn out bills, replacing them with new bills, and burning the old money, I believe), so that money would just be used until it couldn't be used any more. I think Indians are just a little nervous that they'll wind up being the ones who have the money that can't be used any more, either because it's happened to them before, or they know people who it's happened to.

    As it is, I have some souvenir money from India that is one or two people short of being useless. Nice souvenirs, and cheaper than most of the tourist crap I could have attempted to buy with it.

  3. Hey Universal Donor

    Betty here in St Thomas up at the school on the hill. Sorry to tax you but wondering if your remember the password from the website you helped the class set up on i-web. We have some fantasy we're going to update it.

    Still up north in India? I loved Goa which iskind of India lite, yea?

    More later LMK about i-web password if possible. The boy that worked on it hasn't a clue. He acts like a stoner more than ever.

    xxxxx to you and Bridgett