The warmth of the treatment/behaviour hides an unadulterated, ontological form of manipulation and lies that has its roots back in time to colonial England, when the masters from the island supported the caste form of the traditional division of society. Today we can freely say that 20%, mostly academically educated (although there are 70% of those, among them, who will say to you openly: “he is not your level, do not talk to him in that friendly way“) are civilized in terms of respect for humanistic orientations. What kind? That we are all human beings, the same red blood color who drink water, a potion without which there is no life. In India, in the almost three months I have been here, I have noticed contrasts that are so terrible and unimaginable to us, Europeans.
Let’s bargain, sir!
Let’s start by talking with people, among each other. For the first seven days I had trouble understanding the word “sir” which has completely different connotations on our scale and here the 2 minute conversation consists of 10 repetitions of the word “sir” which to Indians like us, back in South-East Europe like “sick”, “bre” and / or “what” or for Americans “dude“ and/or “cool” and/or “lame”. “Sir” is also a title, but the word “sir” is taken out of great use and worn out here — and you really have to be careful when understanding the connotation of this word in conversation because here “sir” can be humiliating, supportive, but also respectful sui generis. No, man is, as I stated in the first report seven days ago, a strange animal and quickly gets used to all the new variations on the theme.
In India, as in Turkey, everything is subject to bargaining and negotiations. I can imagine how they do it with regard to the proposal of marriage, because “arranged marriages” are still on the scene here. Whether for the reason that castes do not mix, or some other reasons, but I also have examples at my university, esteemed female colleagues who, although respected in the society of science and appearances, did not have the opportunity to choose by themselves, through dating and meeting, planned (which I still claim today for my wife) or by chance (as I did, of course), the chosen one of their heart. Here, in India, so much is spent pointlessly on weddings, that those 20% of the above mentioned notice, but ces’t la vie.
The poorest strata of society do not lag behind, so they manage as they know how, repaying borrowed money decades later. Because, for God’s sake, the neighbor cannot have a better wedding than me. No Indian here will admit that someone is more capable than him / her, unless he / she needs it for something in work or life, not to mention that I can count on the fingers of one hand (and I have met many of them) a fellow Indian who will admit a mistake. And, if you admit a mistake on an issue, with a “mea culpa” and “I know that I know nothing”, your knowledge is immediately diminished in their eyes. Because, there is no such thing in the local culture as to admit a mistake. At least I haven’t seen or heard of it to this day.
This brings to mind a special story about me while bargaining in the market. In the first days, myself, Sarajevo patsy, although warned, paid as much as the aunts/grandmothers asked for at a market place, which is no different from that as anywhere in Europe – a stand, an offer of fruits and vegetables (and the unknown “chiko” fruit that looks like kiwi and tastes like cake – tulumba(bamiyeh) or a baklava, if it is mature enough – really, I’m not kidding!). However, after the first seven days of losing and wasting Indian Rupees (INR), I paid 40 Rupees (0.47 Euros or 0.43 US $ Dollars) for 1 kg/ 2.20 pounds instead of 60 Rupees (0.71 Euros and/or 0.80 US $ Dollars) and other fruits and vegetables with a reduced price of 20-30%. And in shoe or technical goods stores – anything is possible.
I will never forget the scene from Istanbul, Turkey, 4 years ago when my wife and I entered a really reputable store with the intention of buying quality shoes size number 48 (by the way, I made them in BiH in a mold or I bought them in Belgrade, Serbia in a “Gulliver” shop, which used to be in Balkanska Street and now is in Knez Mihajlova Street, or in Split, Croatia on the waterfront/boardwalk, ie in one of the streets behind).
There in Istanbul, I was ready to give 100 Euros for the shoes, when my wife took some money, showed the bill to the seller and said “I only have 50 Euros” (and they know our joint, Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian-Montenegrin language) and turned around. She then began walking towards the door to leave while I was confused looking first at the seller and then at her. And he, you should have seen his eyes widen, said, “Okay, ma’am, sold.” Eo ipso, that stayed as a lesson for me which I used recently when I went to buy a toaster into a kitchen appliances shop in Pune. The one where you can make a “cheese sandwich for the road”. Price?Trifle! or Price? Bargain! = 1,000 Indian Rupees (11.85 Euros and/or 13.37 US $Dollars). However, this “Sir, Oliver” did “Bingo” in such a way that I got an Italian toaster for 700 Rupees (8.30 Euros and/or 9.36 US $Dollars). And whoever is now patsy, have I encouraged him? Although whoever is a patsy of this kind, always remains one, regardless of the occasional goals (meaning: football and/or soccer) as a guest on the foreign sporting ground.
Kindness that hurts
And the people? They are so kind, open that there really was something wrong, I immediately thought. From my driver, who drove me until the other day, for a full two months. However, I had to cancel his services, so I am managing now through OLA applications (when you read what follows about online payments, you will not judge me too much –in a negative way) by which I am ordering auto-rickshaw transport via my mobile phone without any problems. It’s a little more expensive, but worth it. Why? After the peripeteia of “bringing him to his senses” to have, when he says “two minutes” him at the place where he should “pick me up” in exactly 2 minutes and not 20 minutes later, and when I finally succeeded in that, there was a new problem. Since he is was also a driver at the university, suddenly there was a problem with the arrival at the planned time, ie the cancellation of the arrival. In the evening, he would say he would come to pick me up at the morning, then at 8:00 a.m. in the morning I’d get a call with him canceling the arrival.
Not once, but many times. And I said, we are friends, but “work is work”, you don’t have to come any more to pick me up, I’ll manage. Not to mention anything about the people who look you in the eyes, and nod their heads. Stop! This nodding (saying “Yes“ or :No“) of the head is a special story because they do not have a “yes” for them, as in the part of the World where I am coming from, lowering and raising the forehead/chin, but if the lower end of the chin or forehead from left to right is nodded, it is “no” or “yes”. Or isn’t it? Wait. Maybe it is. Namely, kindness has no limits here, in India, but it is very painful, which I felt, from “unkind to unloved“, while I knocking off the offices (immigration and police) in regard to my eFRRO registration as a foreign employee, which was not so successful on my first try. Everyone is kind, nodding, with a smile that shines, but … in two months I learned that I can only trust (or understand) my immediate surroundings of colleagues from the D Y Patil International University and especially from my School of Media and Journalism.
At least we know in Europe when you come to a frowning bureaucrat, who kicks you off (from the nail) in the municipality or from some office, but here you can’t tell the difference between the “good” and “bad” guys until you feel it in your own skin. And I did. Of course. However, thanks to my immediate environment, fellow professors and assistant professors of the Faculty of Media and Journalism, DYPIU, it seems that something will change. After all, I have nothing to lose. They want me to apply for eFRRO registration again, they insist, and they will help, as they said, as much as they can. My dear God, people have only known me for three months and it looks like as if I’ve been with them for years. So, let’s do it. Let’s see. I am going to apply again, because I definitely have a visa for a year and a contract with DYPIU, which has not yet expired, and Prof. Dr. Prabhat Ranjan, Vice Rector and Registrar of DYPIU, Dr. Mukesh Parashar supports the action of colleagues from the School of Media and Journalism. Like I said, paradise/dzehennem. I swear to Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Google pay, or dust
When it comes to money, in India everything is paid online, and even in the market place, somewhere. Whether through “Google pay” and / or account, or by direct transfer of money from phone to phone, when your bank connects to the phone. Stupid Bosnian and Herzegovinia, is miles behind. Namely, my bank, Punjab National Bank is very slow in resolving matters important to the client. How slow? Phenomenally slow. First, when I received the account (very fast), through the connection from the university (Wait, listen, where is the ethics in it, dear professor? There is no ethics when it comes to life, or paying the bills, since I have Her (my wife, whom else?!), in BiH, who, as soon as I use the card on which she he has an insight and it belongs to our, BiH bank, ie hers, because she works in it, she says, “Why do you spend unearned?”).
So, I kidly asked and kindly asked and kindly asked my colleagues from the University Administration to help me as soon as possible with issuing an account in the bank with which DYPIU works. They succeeded, but I waited for a bank card for a month, so I had to go to the Bank to get a cash. Fortunately, my wife has no insight into this account, so after receiving my first salary, I wrote to my son (34 years old bachelor, still) the message “Salary arrived on my account, now rock’n’roll”, and my son, a thirty-four-year-old boy, coldly chilled me: “You do not have the balls for rock’n’roll, dad. ” He’s right, I guess I’m getting old, or as when Jethro Tall sang,“Too old for rock’n’roll, too young to die“.
And now imagine a country where people, on the outskirts of the cities, and in the cities themselves, live in “favelas” like in Rio de Janeiro, while at the same time paying all their obligations digitally, while you, a university professor, beg your landlady to wait to get a an account (she does not want cash = she wants it through the account…sic!) to transfer her the rent money for the apartment, and also for her to pay my rent for a refrigerator and washing machine for this month (800 rupees – 9.40 Euros and/or 10.70 USA $ Dollars), and I will give her cash, because the bank did not connect me with Google Pay via my mobile number from India. And cannot at all (later on – in the reportages to come – I will explain that with more details). And I begged successfully, but where I am more ashamed while they talk behind my back, and seem to say, “look at the schmuck, he doesn’t even know how to pay online with the mobile.” And really, I don’t know. And it’s not up to me. Or it is, and I don’t know that?!
I mentioned renting the refrigerator and washing machine. Here, when you rent an apartment, you get an empty apartment. And you rent the rest of movables (washing machine, refrigerator) yourself, through, you guessed, of course, you do this via online applications. But the landlady was cool, so she set aside 20,000 from my deposit which was 30,000 Rupees (401 US $ Dollars and/or 355 Euros) and bought a sofa with two armchairs for the living room and a bed for the bedroom. And just recently, when I was thinking of leaving, I had put up online an ad to sell the above, because the money can’t be returned to me, having in mind that I am cancelling the contract prior to the end of it. Now I am not selling that no more, because I am applying for eFRRO again. And who says that a Bosnian and a Herzegovinian cannot get movables in India.
Eo ipso, India is a land of contrasts, at least in the city and state where I am, Pune – state of Maharashtra. I don’t believe anything is different in other parts of the country. As I learned from a friend in New Delhi, nothing is different there, either.