Hey Everybody, Marcus here.
When I first started this channel, I was living in Ireland. Then I moved to Poland. Now, I live in India. As some of you may know I am a software developer and an entrepreneur. The move to India was aimed at expanding my company’s Bangalore office. As such, the move was motivated by business.
The good news is that business is good. The bad news is that I no longer have the time to put out content on the sort of schedule I have done in the past. However, that should not ruin our fun! Now that I have been in India for almost two weeks I would like to share with you the experiences of a westerner’s first time in India.
The very first thing you notice when you get to India is that India is full of minorities! Minorities as far as the eye can see. One would be even tempted to say that there is a majority of Indians in India but that is just silly. To consider a white guy a minority is just a contradiction in terms. The surprising quirk about India being a white majority country is how few white people, and foreigners in general I have encountered here. Though there are obviously areas of India where foreigners are common, the segment of Bangalore I am living in is not one of them.
No, I tend to see another white person every 3 days or so. Due to my rareness despite my majority status, people stare. They stare in the first case that, in comparison to the locals, my skin shines in the sun like one of those gay sparkling Twilight vampires. They also stare because I comparatively tall. What I did not expect coming to India is to find that people are so damn short. I am six foot tall. Though that is above average, I am not exactly a giant. However, I sort of feel like one when walking around on the streets of Bangalore. The men are probably 5’6 on average and the women seem like they are 5’ tall. Though you do see some taller people here and there you also see a number of people who seem even shorter than these average. This is especially true among the women. There are a lot of really short Indian women out there. Sometimes I look at the unarmed security guys guarding the various shops and think to myself: “I would destroy you in a fight with my mass alone.”
Outside of the staring, people are friendly enough. Considering I must be a strange curiosity in their day-to-day life, they seem quite amused when I start talking to them. What is not amusing, however, is the traffic in Bangalore.
You need to have a death wish to cross the street here. If I were to describe the rules of the road in India I would say that there are none; there are only loose conventions generally followed, but not always. But what do I mean by this? Well, let us take the most straight forward of traffic laws. Namely, that of not driving up stream to traffic. India, like the UK and Ireland, requires people to drive on the left-hand side of the street. I am familiar enough with this setup from my time in Ireland so I actually did not even notice it at first. What I did notice, however, is that driving on the left-hand side is mostly a recommendation.
What you will see is that guys on motorcycles will often ride their bikes up stream to traffic but near the sidewalk. This makes looking both way before you cross the street all the more important. The best assumption to hold is that traffic is coming at you from every single direction at the same time.
Though there are lanes marked off on the actual roads themselves, there are no lanes in practice. There is only empty road you can squeeze onto. Though it is not unusual to go into the oncoming traffic lane when overtaking a car on a one lane country road, I have never seen it happen on multi-lane roads.
Yet here in Bangalore you will have a road that has 2 lanes from either side and people will still overtake a car by driving into oncoming traffic. Drivers tend to be very aggressive. The traffic itself is a nice distribution of cars, motorcycles, and rickshaws. Due to the absence of lanes in practice and the relatively different widths of each of these vehicles, you usually end up with some crazy blob of vehicles in chaotic combinations when driving. This is quite terrifying at first and remains so until you get used to it.
The next thing you notice is that pedestrians do not have the right of way. No one gives a shit about pedestrians. People do not break for you unless they absolutely have to. Combine this with the seeming absence of any hard rules, crossing the street becomes a game of frogger. From time to time you see a video of a man trying to cross a busy 6 lane highway. Well, this is pretty much the only way you are going to cross a street here in Bangalore. Though the cars may not be going as fast as on a highway, traffic is very dense and consistent. Sometimes, you literally just need to walk right into traffic and hope no one runs you down.
Now, I live very close to a Mosque. Every day, 5 times a day, starting at 5 am, you hear the call to prayer. The loudest rendition is the 5 AM version which also happens to be the longest as well. This means that I am woken up every single morning at 5 AM to listen to the Muslim call to prayer. Now, let us combine the presence of Muslims with the Hindu reverence for cows. Firstly, you see cows walking around on the roads, eating garbage, or otherwise just doing their own thing completely free of hassle from humans.
It ought not sound strange when I tell you that beef is hard to find in Bangalore. In the same vein, to please the Muslim contingent, pork is also generally absent though not as difficult to find as beef is. This makes ordering a double bacon cheeseburger doubly subversive when you find a place that sells them.
The primary meats that are eaten here are chicken and lamb. And I got to tell you, they are excellent. One of the things that I found surprising about India is how fresh the food is. Now, this ought not be confused with some prejudice on my part that Indian food quality would be low. No, the surprising thing is that food in India is much fresher than what we habitually eat in the west. For example, the idea of cooking a large batch of curry to last for 3 days is unheard of. The idea of eating food that was not cooked the same day is absurd. Everything must be cooked fresh, and it must be composed of today’s fresh ingredients as well.
For example, if you want to buy a whole chicken, you can go to your local butcher, spot the particular creature who’s incessant pecking offends you the most, and he will slaughter the chicken right there and then. Following the slaughter, he will gut it, de-feather it and hack it into whatever size pieces you want. The cut-up chicken pieces you get are still warm from the body heat of the bird which it generated while it was still alive. So yes, this is what I mean by freshness. Due to this cultural necessity for fresh food, everything tastes clean and healthy.
Let me give you a run-down how this plays itself out in practice. Now, we are all aware of Taco Bell. In Canada, I remember Taco Bell being just above dog food in terms of quality. It was still delicious, but no one was fooling themselves that the cheese they served at Taco Bell was but one chemical reaction away from being a garbage bag. This is not the case in India.
(Demolition man Taco Bell clip)
Taco Bell is a strange thing here. Firstly, Taco Bell has a bar inside the restaurant, with a bartender, and the typical bar related liquors you would expect.
Secondly, they seem to play gangster rap in Taco Bell; explicit versions of songs. Seriously. There I am, eating my 7-layer Burrito listening to the Geto Boy’s Die Motherfucker. For a while there I could not figure out what the hell is the theme of Taco Bell in India. I mean, sure, they sell some facsimile of Mexican food, but between the fully stocked bar and gangster rap, it cannot be considered a family restaurant. Finally, it dawned on me. Taco Bell is not a Mexican themed family restaurant in India. It is a Mexican Cartel themed restaurant. Also, Taco Bell does not sell pork or beef products.
But I must say, the food was great at Taco Bell. It took the cooks around 20 min to fulfil our order much like many mid-tier restaurants. Nothing was previously frozen. I know this because after eating fresh for 2 weeks, you can instantly tell if something had been previously frozen.
The first night in India I went to a restaurant and bar venue. We had a great meal, drank several beers and generally had a good time. That bar allowed you to smoke at the table as used to be the case 20 years ago in every bar and restaurant. Everything was perfect. Then, about an hour after the meal, which was quite spicy for my palate at the time, my stomach started rumbling. I needed to take a shit.
So, I went to the washroom and took a quality shit in one of the stalls. The restrooms were OK. When I reached towards what I believed to be a toilet paper dispenser it turned out not to be a toilet paper dispenser at all. It was some small table or something like that. I looked around the stall and realized that not only was there no toilet paper there, but there was no location that would suggest toilet paper was ever supposed to be there in the first place. As we usually panic in these situations, I started looking around with a subtle hint of desperation. Perhaps there was some loose sheets of toilet paper somewhere around the toilet bowl itself?
I found no toilet paper but I did find a hose connected to the wall. This hose was similar to a garden hose. The head piece of this hose was like a miniature shower head. I had no idea what the hell the point of the hose was. Maybe it was used to clean the toilet? Anyways, in a moment of relief I realized that having anticipated to sweat walking around in the 30 degree Celsius temperatures I had brought a small pack of tissue paper with me. As I never carried such things around with me before, it completely escaped my mind that I had tissue paper in my pocket all this time.
Having exited the washroom, I made my way back to the table where my business partner was waiting for me. I warned him that the washroom was out of toilet paper. Suddenly this realization comes over his face. He covers his mouth and says with these wide-open eyes, “Oh shit! I forgot to tell you. Toilet paper is not as popular in India as it is in the west.”
Apparently, though most places will have toilet paper, you can still run into restrooms without it. What you are supposed to do is spray water on your asshole with that garden hose thing I mentioned earlier. Now, when this was described to me the question that immediately came to mind was the following. If you are to spray water on your ass, what is the mechanism by which your ass becomes dry before you put your pants back on?
(Scene from demolition man about 3 sea shells)
Apparently, the answer is that you only shoot a little bit of water on your ass.
There is plenty more I can recount from my experiences but I think I will save it for another video. The key takeaways from this video are as follows. If you move to India, you will need to re-learn how to cross the street. You will need to re-learn how to wipe your ass, and you will need to re-learn the value of money. With an exchange of 70 Rupees for 1 Euro, you have no idea what the hell 70 Rupees can buy you. It can buy you a 5-km rickshaw ride, a full meal at a local quick stop restaurant, a single burger in McDonald’s, or a single day of maid services for your apartment if you buy a 30-day commitment.
But for now, thanks for listening!