Sunday 29 June 2008

Survival Tips To South India

For those who want to make it through their stay in South India, plan on visiting Tamil land or are new in town, here are some tips to increase your chances of survival!

1. Ban white clothes from your inventory, they are useless here. Even if you have the courage to hand wash till you die, eventually the frustration of seeing a white shirt turning into a distinct yellow brownish tint within the first half an hour you are outside will make you go mad. Go for a sari or lungi in a dark color, and blend in.

2. Avoid the Police, they spoil the fun at every occasion and it can cost you some rupees to get rid of them. The list of things the police strongly dissaproves of includes but is not limited to: kissing in public, showing affection in public, being on the street after 11PM (= deportation!), drinking on the beach, driving without helmet and parking your bike when the governor passes by. On the other hand it's completely cool to ignore all possible traffic rules and cross red lights.

3. Build up an unusual amount of patience and zen to remain calm at all price. This tip is meant to avoid swift heart attacks when you have to wait half one hour for that one customer ahead of you, when it takes you 3 days, 10 phonecalls and 20 referals to send a package home by mail or when somebody showed you in the wrong direction for the 10th time and you are hopelessly lost in the city. Indian stretchable time apllies and adds at least half an hour to the agreed hour of appointment.

4. To make yourself understandable in English on the street only use nouns. Adjectives and other difficult grammatical constructions make communication rather complicated so better to avoid them. If you do ha ve to use an adjective (or actually for every possible noun) it's always useful to add '-ing' to it as the locals will understand you as one of them. For example: no 'cool' drink, but 'cooling' drink, you are not going to work, but 'going working' etc. Picking up some Tamil will surely impress Chennai autodrivers and increase your bargaining power.

Tamil, Chennai
5. Chances of getting bored if you stay for a longer are real, but no worries. Grab the newspaper in a dead moment and laugh for the rest of the day. Articles are usually badly written and the weekend edition often offers some great content to discuss among friends. Don't be surprised to see presumably 'Quality' newspapers boost articles about masturbation, arranged marriages, The Amazingly Dangerous City of Chennai or guys writing about how woman should dress or be succesfully approached. Fun guaranteed! (if you go clubbing, 90% chance you'll be in the newspaper yourself)

6. Bear the unstoppable curiosity of the Indians. There are many of them and they all want to know what a foreigner like you is doing after work and in the weekends. No question cannot be asked so prepare to get your way out of questions like 'How much you earn?' 'Is your girlfriend also your lover?' or 'Is it true in Europe people only drink beer and softdrinks? or even more common 'Which country?' and 'Good name?'

Chennai,South India

So far the first edition of survival tips to South India - To be continued!

*update 24/07: see part II of Survival tips in India

1 comment:

  1. great tips there Filip, good to know you picked up a few things to take home...wait a second, such useful advice is only useful in places where normal rules dont apply. I went to Europe after 8 months of India and Asia, it took me 3 days to get used to the European lifestyle again. I´m in Colombia now..things are going well...give Chennai the finger for me!