Idiots in Indian Department Stores

(Note: This is the edited version of my recent facebook rant)

On a daily basis we get to see a lot of unethical behaviours in public places in India. Department stores – even the up market ones in our cities – are no exception in this regard either.

The following are some of the common scenes at super market check-out counters in Bangalore and perhaps elsewhere in India as well. On your bad day, you get to see all three of these idiots at once – just like I experienced earlier this week.

IDIOT #1 is being attended by the tardy checker. When he has to pay his bill of around 2000 rupees, he first gives 1000 rupees in currency and pulls out two or three SODEXO pass books in the lowest possible denominations. He then starts tearing a few from each book, counts them, re-checks twice and sees that it’s not sufficient. He checks his wallet again for change, finds nothing and ask his wife – who has already proceeded ahead – for another 200! And you know how long it’s going to take further from that moment. That’s a good 5 minutes per customer, Thank you idiot!

IDIOT #2 is a lady, right behind the first character, who seems to be stocking up supplies good enough for 3 months for all famine hit regions in Uganda. While she’s about to shift her things from the shopping cart to the counter, she gets a call on her smart phone which is lying somewhere in her Santa bag. With great difficulty she finds it, swipes thrice to pick the call and in the process forgets the priority job. When the checker reminds her twice, she relents but with the phone in right hand, starts transferring the shopping cart items one at a time using her left hand. Needless to say, in between the call she pauses the left hand task to pick an argument on the phone. At the end, she almost matches the record set by the first idiot. Wait, is she pulling out the Sodexo passes too? What an irresponsible idiot!

IDIOT #3 is nowhere in the scene so far. But when it’s your turn and when the checker has almost started attending you, this idiot appears from nowhere and utters “Only three items saaar, Can I? “. One can understand if it’s an old person or physically challenged individual but hey, that’s not the case! It’s just another idiot who has not even learned what a ‘Queue’ is forget alone the sign boards there in. And in all probabilities, you must have seen the same idiot skipping the queue at the vegetable weighing/tagging counter as well a short while ago. What a PITA (Pain In The …)!

Thank you Idiots for making my day!


Symptoms of an Indian just Returned from the US

Enough has been said about the US returned Indians’ behavior and their attitude in the mother land. Before I start my version of US Indians joke, let me make a few things very clear:

  • I have myself stayed in the US for a few years and hence a few statements below may be autobiographical (which I didn’t probably understand then)
  • I am not trying to tar everyone with the same brush – people may differ
  • I still have a good number friends and relatives in the US of A and I do not intent to hurt any of them with my post – it’s just meant for plain humor alone

So you have heard and read many stories of Indians about their sudden US accent, usage of miles instead of kilometers, mineral water drinking habits, calorie concerns and diet coke drinking habits etc. Hopefully what I am going to share is somewhat different stories.

Symptom #1: In the US…

Well, for a US returned Indian, invariably almost all topics of discussion should start with ‘In the US…’ or ‘In US…’. Believe me, this symptom fails to disappear even years after them coming back to India. Even worse, those people who have stayed hardly three or more months in the United States will still say this.

By the way, while ‘In the US’ is the statement most heard, you still can’t rule out ‘In Australia’, ‘In UK’, ‘In XYZ developed country’ etc…

Symptom #2: Can I talk to your Manager?

Well, the US returned Indian has a different expectation about the service quality that he needs to get. Hence when he doesn’t see any instant result while talking to a customer support or sales personnel, his rude question after a minute of talking is ‘Can I talk to your Manager?’ (as if that improves the situation dramatically in Indian conditions… May be it’s more of a way of suggesting ‘I am superior to you, so treat me better’)

Symptom #3: Meet-all-Friends-Syndrome

So he returns from the US either for a short visit or for good. Suddenly he becomes a very friendly person and makes it a point to meet all his friends (whom he has forgotten since long during the good old days and wouldn’t even ‘like’ them on Facebook then). The get-togethers usually happen in groups in high end restaurants or theme parks so that the vacation is spent fruitfully with friends as part of a busy schedule to get rid of boredom. As a matter of fact, during their 3 or 4 weeks visit, friends are allocated 90% of the time and the old parents and relatives should be happy to get an appointment slot of few hours with their wards.

Symptom #4: Restaurant bill payment and Tips

While the bills used to be picked by them prior to the recession, these days the restaurant bills are promptly shared by the guests as well as the elite host. Times have changed, you know. Invitations have now changed to Meetings.

However, every amount by default in calculated in US Dollars. This will very quickly happen in mind and one can hear statements like ‘That’s less than half a dollar, it’s very cheap’ or ‘Man, that’s more than a 100 dollars, that’s as expensive as it’s THERE’.

While every possible calculation is in USD, the restaurant waiter tip is an exception here. The waiter still gets a tip of max 10 rupees regardless of the order size and service quality while ‘In the US we pay 10% to 15% as tip’.

Symptom #5: Focus on Sales, Deals and Coupons

While talking about his latest car, gadget that he got from BestBuy or the recent home purchase, he will promptly say ‘I got a good DEAL on that’ there. Getting a deal is a pride factor, you see regardless of how much you spent.

Note: Not to forget that some of them – especially the ones from a particular southern state in India – actually return those things (that they got on deal, heavily showed off and used in India) as soon as they go back to the US. The no-questions-asked-return-policy in some US stores is best exploited by Indians, I think

Symptom #6: Manual Transmission Phobia

Non-stopping whining about the pollution levels and bad traffic conditions in India is a must. And even if he’s in a hired taxi, he will still worry about the ‘manual transmission’ car. If the friends are driving, he will amaze how exactly this thing works (and probably that’s the only Indian skill that he ever admires secretly)

Needless to remind you, ‘In US, everything is automatic’.

So, what doesn’t change?

Despite all those changes, there are certain things that never change (of course, other than the restaurant tip norms).

During the Indian visit, though he often complains that ‘the food is very spicy’, he will still pack back as much Indian spices and curry powders as possible when he goes back.

Formal shirts and shoes are always purchased in bulk from India because they are expensive there while casuals and accessories can be bought ‘ there on sale

Over-courteous behavior (‘opening the door for people’, ‘after you’, ‘excuse me’) is something that is usually present in the US alone. You can see traces of it during the first few days of Indian stay and then ‘Indianism’ takes over. However, when they go back there’s a sudden positive switch.

And by the way, these days some of them have actually stopped drinking coke with Indian meals. Things are changing…

It Happens Only In India

bhaskaran_sonsWell, you must have seen numerous Only in India photos and videos on the Internet. This little post is around the same topic but more specific to funny naming conventions and strange names of people and establishments in India. Since I haven’t traveled too much around India, I may not know a lot about the North and Eastern parts and hence the content may be more relevant to South India alone.

Names of establishments

In India, funny restaurant names are the easiest to spot regardless of where you travel. The following are a few that I have encountered.

Brothers Hotel

Sometimes branded as Hotel Brothers or even Hotel Brothers International, this is not exactly a ‘Hotel’ but more of a small time restaurant or tea shop. ‘Hotel’ in the Indian village or town context means ‘Restaurant’. You can see this ‘Brothers’ brand many parts in India. It’s not a chain of restaurants but just preferred name. And the funniest thing is that ‘many of them are not even run by brothers or siblings’.

Bhaskaran & Sons Jewellery

What’s funny or wrong about it? Nothing, unless you learn that it’s started by a person by name Bhaskaran who is still a bachelor who doesn’t have any son. Adding ‘& Sons‘ to the display board is more for style than for the literal meaning itself. The board would additionally display ‘Proprietor: T.P Bhaskaran‘ and if it’s in Tamil Nadu, probably, ‘ Prop: T.P Bhaskaran, BA‘.

(Fortunately they don’t add more qualifiers to it such as ‘BA First class’ or something like that)

Common names for restaurants around South India include ‘Bharat Hotel’, ‘Sreekrishna Cafe’ and after a coat of painting during Diwali sometimes one of them suddenly becomes ‘New Bharat Hotel‘. Well, there are plenty such popular names for restaurants. Would you like to add more?

Chicken and Poultry shops

One of my villagers (in Kerala) that I know, Mr. Lonappan – a fisherman by profession – decided to setup a poultry shop as he thought broiler chicken business is more profitable than selling fishes. After consulting his ‘educated’ and jobless friends he arrived at a very cool name for his chicken stall and that was ‘Asiatic Chickorium‘. Obviously his fishing background helped inventing that amazing word that rhymed ‘Aquarium‘.

While Lonappan was lucky to have ‘educated’ friends to help him, his counterpart in Mahadevapura, Bangalore wasn’t that lucky. This person had to depend on the knowledge of the sign board artiste to arrive at a small board for his chicken stall that read ‘Chikan Stale‘!

I think the same artist is the creative mind behind ‘Kentaki Fryed Chikan‘ pull cart shop in Majestic, Bangalore. Sounds really majestic, huh?

More examples of impressive shop names include the pancher shop‘ that I mentioned in a recent article, ‘Toylat – Gents‘, Chines fast food – all in and around Bangalore and a ‘Panjapi Dhaba‘ near Selam in Tamil Nadu.

Names of people

When it comes to the names of people, I know that most Punjabis prefer English names and most Andhrites, who move to their dream land (USA), change their long names to beautiful 3 and 4 letter American short names as soon as they land. However, I think nobody can beat Keralites when it comes to the most innovative names that you can’t even think of.

The funniest names are usually girls’ names most of which sounds like ‘– i – i‘ or ‘– o – i‘ or ‘– i – y‘ and you can mix and match those empty spaces with any consonant or an array of consonants. Some of the names that I have heard of include the following:

Kikki, Titti, Litti, Sisi, Mimi, Lighty, Booby – obviously they didn’t think about (or didn’t know) their meanings when the naming ceremony took place.

And innovative name for Malayali boys will typically end with ‘ju’ or ‘jo’Liju, Siju, Lijo, Sijo, Lyjo, Ijo,…

Mostly this naming convention is prevailing among Christians in Kerala but other communities are catching up well with these kinds of names and aren’t far behind.

Not sure that there’re such naming conventions in other parts of India, if so please do share your opinions.

Note: Please note that my intention here is not to hurt any individual or community. As a matter of fact, I have many good friends with one or the other of the above mentioned names or their variations

That much for now!