- Buy your external clothes in India because those sorry American clothes won't survive the Indian Wash Cycle. Let me explain how this wash cycle works. The garment is soaked in a river for five hours during which the entire village gets a chance to pee over it, to lower its Ph value. Then, the junior dhobi (Hindi for washerman) batters it repeatedly against a slab of rock smashing all buttons to smithereens. The spiritless cloth is then petrified in a boiling starch solution until it turns stiff as a plank. It is hung dry in blistering sun, when the senior dhobi takes over ironing it with a portable blast furnace while simultaneously reading the day's newspaper till he smells burning. The garment is done. Now, it is ready to wear the man.
Dhobis in action: Notice the dhobi on the left beating the red-colored garment to death.
- On the contrary, never buy male underwear in India. In particular, avoid a brand called VIP Frenchie. It should really be renamed VIP Wedgie, but that won't do it describe it accurately either. It is a windowless elastic fabric that soon after wearing it begins to rapidly contract to zero volume. If the secret design motive is to cull population growth, as some conspiracy theorists believe, there is nothing more effective than this.
VIP Frenchie: Seen here 30 seconds before contracting to zero volume.
- Don't forget ear plugs. When they serve the Asian food, plug your nostrils.
- For returning Indian families, there is a sound-proof family room right next to the gate. Whisk your children there for the good thrashing they deserve for being such a pain in the ass in countries where you can't thrash them. For the Americans, try this out. Your kids will never touch drugs.
- Remember, your luggage only goes around once on the conveyor belt. Don't think it will come back once it disappears behind the loading curtain. If you walk in just as it is disappearing, dive after it.
- The toilet is not inside the bathroom. The toilet is the bathroom. Men pee into it from outside. So, don't go searching for the toilet inside, unless you don't mind getting peed upon. It is quite simple - stand outside, open the door with the point of your shoe, and pee through the open doorway. You don't even have to flush anything. Point and shoot! Once in a year, a janitor comes around and chucks a couple of fragrant naphthalene balls on the floor to comply with the country's stringent hygiene standards.
- Better, find an open place for urination. Choosing the right spot is a subject in itself outside the scope of this article, but you know there are many factors involved such as the direction of the wind, the clearance from ground, the type of soil, and the visibility from the nearest women's hangout place. But, you can't go wrong with trees. You are even nurturing them – our output is their daily water and minerals. Here is an excellent choice for the roadside urinator (term I coined to describe one who pees by the roadside).
Mango Tree: Notice the strategic importance of its location for the roadside urinator.
Observe the tree carefully.(a) conveniently close to the road,
(b) the big shade,
(c) the strong trunk to lean against for the torrential flows, and
(d) the ground sloping away so the piss doesn't travel back to wet your shoes.
You can even pluck a mango while you release, though I wouldn't eat it.
- There are many different brands selling mineral water. Almost all come from the same source – a small borewell groundwater manual pump in a Kolkata street corner. True, though no one really knows why. So, they are all the same except one, which most people avoid: the Moraji Desai brand of mineral water. Moraji Desai was the first opposition party leader who became Prime Minister of India, introduced sweeping reforms to the Parliamentary powers, and created a secure fund for India's nuclear reactors. But, history only remembers him as the guy who drank his own urine. Historians say that he slipped some into the water glasses of his foreign guests Jimmy Carter and Margaret Thatcher. Just a small note: all three have or had long, healthy lives. Hey, maybe you should eat that mango you plucked from the tree.
The famous Kolkata borewell: Source for Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Ganga, Godavari. The women are corporate employees.
- Westerners, oh yeah, I know the vocabulary you grew up with – vaccines, mountain spring water, pasteurized milk, processed meats, vitamins, minerals, Botox, flu shots. Heck, even Airborne, though I have no idea what it is. Does it throw up an impenetrable virus shield around the head? Bridge to Captain, Airborne Defense System has been activated.
Intruders will vaporize on contact.
Well, get used to a new word – mosquitoes. A few bites and all the vitamins and the *bornes in the world won't help you. The insects have a special love for foreigners. I can almost hear them cry when they see fresh meat: "Loookeeee! A spotless White guy! Last one to the bridge of his nose is a rotten egg." Best way to fight sickness? Become sick. Don't be the spotless White guy.
- Let me give you a general tip about India's roads. Walking gets you to your destination fastest, because you can walk anywhere. On the sidewalks, in the middle of the road, and through someone's backyard. Cycling is the next fastest. Auto-rickshaws next, followed by buses, and finally cars. Counter-intuitive? You bet, that is what makes this a uniquely great country. The faster the vehicle, the slower the travel. Never take a Ferrari on Indian roads, you will be cut off by the vehicle whose 0-60 is 3 hours better known as the water buffalo.
- There are many airlines for domestic travel. You want a quick-rich scheme? (a) Take Deccan Airlines. (b) Buy flight insurance. Only one out of every two Deccan flights reach their destinations. Most Deccan passengers in mid-air don't worry about that statistic. They just pray for the flight to reach a destination, doesn't matter where.
- Trains are the other alternative. If you can find a place to sit. Or stand.
- Never go around smiling at strangers on the street going "How Ya Doin'?" They will be startled. They think you are some kind of con man. True, the most affable Indians are usually the con artists. In fact, the proper way to greet is to snarl and growl at strangers. If they respond in kind, you know you just made a cultural connection.
Don't be startled when your male Indian acquaintance there slips his arm around your waist. He is not gay. He is just trying to be your buddy. He also expects you to slip your arm around his waist, don't disappoint him. Guys holding hands in interlocked grips when crossing streets is very normal. But, never touch a girl in public even if she is your wife.
Guys holding hands: They are not gay. Just friends.
So, there you are. I hope you learned something. One last tip: doodle around, just live on your feet. That is one thing seldom done over here. As for me, I just can't wait for my trip in May. Got to find that Mango Tree.