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Here I am again with yet more reports from India.
Thank you for your questions.  Please, keep them
coming, it helps me a lot. Plus, it's more interesting
for you this way.

> What is the food like?  What are you eating these
> days?
> What are your hosts preparing for you?

Food is Indian.  Main component is rice (almost any
meal comes with rice).  And then there are vegetable
sauces that come with it, but the sauces are nothing
like tomato sauce in US.  They cook 3 times a day, so
any meal is fresh just from the oven.  Default is
vegetarian here, so I don't even have to worry about
meat.  As a matter of fact, I'd have to worry if I
were carnivorous, because I'd have to worry about
finding/cooking meat myself. 

Sweets are very tasty.  Another thing I'd never
thought I'd like, is tea.  Not only it's a black tea
(which I only drink if I'm dying of thirst or cold),
it also comes with milk and sugar (which I never drink
at all). Somehow the combination of 3 comes out
incredibly good!

> How nice are your hosts?

Very nice.  They clean my room daily, cook food for
me, do laundry, iron my clothes try to fulfil my every
wish and all this with almost no English :)

> What type of building to you live in?  What floor?
> What is the floor made of? 

It's an appartment building, has 6 or 7 floors.  I
live on 5th.  Floors are made out of marble, so
they're nice and cold (and this is not
sarcastic...it's nice to have cold floors, just like
in Israel).
 
> How nice are the people, at work, elsewhere?

People at work are very nice and helpful.  Strangers
on the streets are looking at me as if I'm a ghost...I
still didn't get used to the way they look at me.  I
mean, yes, I'm different from everybody else here, but
still...

On the other note, I went to Mysore for the Dashera
festival last weekend.  And I was staying at my
friend's parents place (my friend is Indian, but lives
in the US now).  I felt like home there or better yet,
I felt like I was some royal family guest... I guess,
I'm going to write a separate message about my trip to
Mysore and include some pictures too.
 
> Any form of discrimination for not being Indian or
> being the "real minority"?  You said 25-1 ratio, how
> many people in the office?  I guess the real
> question
> is if you're the only woman in the office. 

I'm not the only woman in the office.  The office is
pretty big now and it keeps growing.  I feel more of a
minority in terms of being white as opposed to locals.

> Are your coworkers really curious about you?  Do
> they
> ask you how's this and that in US?  Do they ask you
> "why are you here?"

We've gone through this stage while I was still in US.
I've been working with them since May and we spent a
lot of time talking on the phone.  Of course a
question of "how's this and how's that" comes every
once in a while, but I can't say that this is the main
theme of our discussions.  They don't ask me why am I
here, but they really appreciate it that I am
intrested in their country and culture.

> Any entertainment there?  At home, outside,
> theaters,
> dancing, music, etc?

Not really.  Most of the work is being done after 5PM
(to accommodate our US coworkers), so by the time I'm
home I usualy am too tired for anything.  However,
last week there was a festival going on all week, so
we went out with my coworkers for a folk dance that
they dance during that celebration.  It was really
really cool. We danced with bamboo sticks and I got a
chance to beat all my coworkers up ;)  Of course
everybody gave me strange look there too, but you know
me : when I dance I forget everything :)

> Anything to do outside?  Sports, hiking, nature?

I live right near the biggest park in Bangalore.  It's
very well planned, very shady and has a lot of
beautiful exotic plants there...so far I didn't get
bored there.  Inside the park there's art museum,
central public library, playground for kids, stadium
with tennis courts...Also, I just bumped into a group
of people who practice yoga in the mornings, so I hope
to join them.

> How is the surrounding at work, cubicals, offices,
> any
> way to take and send a pic?

The office is nice.  I would say, this is the best
Thomson office...well, of course it can't beat the
location of our headquarters at 195 Broadway in NYC,
but the building itself...the best thing about this
building definitely is the cafeteria.  It's located on
the roof (4th floor), which is higher then most of the
buildings in the area, so the view is nice.  Besides,
it has the roof, but no walls, which makes it
absolutely the best spot to enjoy heavy tropical rains
(like the one we had today for example)

> What do people mostly talk about in the office
> (besides work)?

People are normal here, so they talk about normal
day-to-day stuff.  My team members are really cool,
they like to laugh and have a good time so, it's fun
to chill with them during breaks and lunch.

> Like over here people talk about kids, sports,
> politics, etc..

Same...people are no different here then anywhere
else.  Well, majority of my coworkers is young and
single (as opposed to married with kids coworkers in
NYC).  So we talk mostly about "cool stuff", like when
and where we can go out, travel during holidays, etc.
:)

> Do people mostly speak english among themselves?

When I'm around, yes of course.  Also, there are so
many languages in India, and people from all over the
country work in the office here.  Although, Hindy is
considered to be the official language of India, not
everybody knows it (even in our team there are people
who don't speak Hindy, and only for 2 people Hindy is
a mother tongue).  Whereas, English is a really
international and the only means of communication.
All meetings and official matters are conducted in
English, even when all team members speak Hindy. I
guess this is the official language of the company.

> Is there a supermarket there?  How big?  What
> choices
> of food are there?  Do you every worry about buying
> food or you totally rely on your hosts?

There definitely is a supermarket, and I'm sure not
one...Bangalore is a 5-million city.  However, so far
I never had to buy any food for myself, since
everything is been taken care of.  I guess, if I get
to live here long enough, I'm going to have a chance
(and need) to go shopping, but so far, no supermarket
experience.  I don't even know where is it located.

> What is your boss like?

That's a tough one.  Normal boss...so far so
good...but I haven't worked enough with him to be more
specific.  Seems like a nice serious responsible guy.
Tries to please US team in any possible way to make
Bangalore team look good and so far, I can say he's
really successfull in doing that.  This only means
that Bangalore office has a bright future as long as
US is satisfied with the quality of work.

That's it for today.  I'm going to write a message
about my trip to Mysore over the weekend, but in the
meantime, please, don't hesitate to come up with more
questions.

Yours as always




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Guess what!  The comming weekend is going to be a long
one again, and so I am going to be unavailable for 3
days.  This time you won't even be able to send me an
SMS as my phone is travelling to US.  You can still
call my home number, but I don't promise to stay home
all 3 days waiting for your call.

And now, answers to your questions.

> That fact that the food is Indian comes as a matter
> of fact, but how do you like it.  Any new, weird,
> surprising experiences, besided the tea revelation?

I love it.  I think, in terms of food I was meant to
live here.  First of all everything is spicy here.
Second of all, default is vegetarian, no animal
products (besides curd, which is a great substitute
for yogurt/kefir).  Third, sweets are made out of nuts
and not chocolate (as you all know, I'm a fan of nuts
and don't like chocolate).  And last but not least,
there are so many different regions and types of food
in India, I think, I will never get bored with trying
something new.

> Did you get used to smells?

Yes, absolutely.  I didn't like the smell in Bombay.
The city is very humid and all the smells just fill
the air like a substance you can almost touch and
feel...It's a raining season here now, so the smells
also stay in the air, but the only smells that bother
me are smells of exhaust from cars rikshas, buses,
bikes...Walking in the streets is highly not
recommended for many reasons.  Mostly, because traffic
laws do not exist in this country.  Everybody drives
wherever the heck they want as long as they're not
running at risk of being hit by something
bigger/heavier then them.

> what's the weather like? Are rains warm?

It's getting colder each day and now I even have to
close the windows at night as one blanket isn't
sufficient.  Bangalore is situated 3000 ft above the
sea level.

These are all your questions for today.  Just a little
story before I go. 

I had to register in the passport office within 14
days of my arrival.  I infomred my HR representative
about it as soon as I reported at work last monday.
Apparently they didn't take it seriously.  Yesterday
was 14th day since I've arrived and so I went to HR
just to remind them that I'm running at risk of being
deported out of the country.  One should've seen them
running around like crazy.  Getting 15 different forms
filled, having my picture taken, bringing me to the
governmental office in taxi and finally bribing that
official commissioner.  But before getting
commissioner's signature I had to run through 7
circles of hell in that governmental institution,
collecting signatures of "pre-approval", where each of
the officers looked through all 15 forms, passport,
visa, pictures, shook head that it's a last day and
gave his signature. By the time I went to see
commissioner it was already 5:30pm, the office closes
at 4pm (presumably).  One would wonder, what a heck
was this commissioner doing in the office when the
opening hours are over.  I think he was waiting for me
and Thomson's 1000 Rs. bribe (where if it was before
4PM, the signature of his Highness would cost me 20
Rs.)  Luckily I didn't pay a penny for that.  But a
scene where commissioner looked at all the documents,
looked at his watch, rejected my documents, asked to
see the passport just one last time, Thomson's lawyer
put few bucks inside my passport, commissioner's heart
melted and he gave me his "green light" for
registartion reminded me of good old days in
Russia...money rules...

That's about it for today.  It's late and I'm heading
home.

Oh, yeah...picture time. The name of it speaks for
itself.

yours as always

~A.





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ya



Long weekend is over and since it was a rainy one,
nothing interesting to report.  So, thanks for your
questions, as always.  Please, keep them coming ;)

> What do you do on Shabbat in India? I heard there
> are a lot of Israelis in India.  Did you meet any?

I've had 3 shabbats in India so far. 
First one I spent in Bombay, and since I was staying
with Jewish family, it was a completely kosher one :
all the laws were observed, I got to light candles, go
to Synagoge on Fri night and on Sat. morning, meet
local jews there.  Got a kosher home-made grape juice
for kidush, "motsi lechem" on paper-thin pita's (local
substitute for bread) and even an afternoon nap, which
can be added to the list of things I never did before,
but due to the weather conditions ( heat in addition
to humidity) there was nothing else to do. 

My second shabbat I spent in Mysore, visiting my
friend's family. This wasn't a real shabbat...I didn't
do anything shabbat-like at all, got a feel of indian
festival though.

And the last one I spent at home.  It was raining, I
caught my cold, so I slept most of the day.

As for Israelis...yes I've also heard there's lots of
them everywhere in India.  I guess everywhere but
Bangalore...which is not really a touristic place, but
rather a Silicon valey of India.  Israelis like to
visit beaches, so Goa is one of the places of high
concentration of Israelis.  There are less of them in
Bombay, but I got to meet few when I was there.  First
of all, 2 guys where renting rooms in the same house
where I stayed for shabbat, and so I spent all my free
time with them roaming around on Friday, going to
synagoge on Sat. and to clothes market on Sunday.
Besides that I visited Chabbad house in Bombay.  Also,
there was a problem with El-Al flight that Thur (their
computer broke), therefore the plane was delayed until
Sun. and all the people got placed in Taj Mahal hotel
for shabbat (lucky bastards!!!...Taj is a 5-star
hotel...) One can't go wrong when sees sloppily
dressed lazily walking people in a 5-star hotel, where
the rest of the guests looks really
business-like...suites, ties, leather shoes, as
opposed to shorts, t-shirts and sandals.  I didn't
spend much time in Taj, just went in to cool down a
bit and to see what 5-star hotel is like in Bombay, so
I didn't officially meet those israelis.

> Did you meet any real Indian Jews? I met one in
> Washington a couple years ago.
> They have interesting customs. 

Yes.  I was staying with real Indian Jews in Bombay.
They look more like Indians then Jews to us, European
Jews.  They have interesting customs, I agree, but 95%
of their customs are same Jewish customs, just maybe
being expressed in slightly different manner. Synagoge
looks absolutely same.  Prayer books are same.  Women
sit upstairs (where the place permits), otherwise
behind the men.  They read sephardic Tora (for those
of you who know the difference).  They have kiddush in
Synagoge, with a home-made grape juice and local
sweets.  They light a special candle for Eliyahu
hanavi at Motsei Shabbat (that's besides havdala
candle) and also they have a special Eliyahu Hanavi
chair in synagoge and so after the services are over,
they all come and "praise" that chair, which would
probably look somewhat like idol-worshiping if it
wasn't for Eliyahu Hanavi...
They don't have beef because cow is a holy animal in
India and so they give respect to their neighboors by
eating goat meat or chicken.  All tunes they use
during services sound like Arabic or Indian....nothing
that reminds you of a good old Ashkenazi service.
Can't think of anything else now, but maybe if you ask
me more specific questions, I'd be able to tell you
more.

> Did you miss New York at all?

I definitely miss some things about NY.  For example,
air is very polluted here and this is probably the
thing that bothers me most.  Also, no driver ever
gives respect to pedestrians, so if G-d willing I make
it alive out of this crazy traffic, you will see a
totally different me crossing the streets.  I'm sure
most of you know how reckless I used to be on the
streets...well, not anymore...just 2 weeks in India
did the trick.

> Are you planning to celebrate Thanksgiving?

Oh, that's right, Thanksgiving is coming ...  There're
so many holidays here these days...every weekend is a
long weekend for 3-4 weeks in a row.  If in the midst
of all local holidays I don't forget about
Thanksgiving, I will try to commemorate it by eating a
vegetarian turkey ;)

> It is funny that Indian bureaucrat remind you about
> Soviet life.  Have you got to swim in Indian Ocean
> yet?

Nope...I haven't gotten a chance to swim since Israel.
And in Israel it was only in the Dead Sea, so it also
hardly counts as swimming...more floating like a piece
of something (no naming names here ;) in a greesy
chicken-soup-like substance ;)

Attached are pics of synagoge where I went for
services on Shabbat and the family where I stayed.
Feel free to study all the details of the background
;)  There are really many to look for ;)

Yours




 



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ya

- под катом три письма. Ну, не было у меня доступа к инету, не виноватая я

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