Friday, October 31, 2014

Tour de Indonesia

"Indonesia is just like Kerala. Nothing special". My uncle echoed from other end of the phone. He was trying to convince me not to go to Indonesia for a vacation.

Yes, Indonesia is in many ways is similar to Kerala. This may include the climate, the vegetation and the cultural similarity. But one thing makes them different, and very much different are the people.  Indonesians are one of the most courteous people whom I have seen on this planet. Let me give few examples anything and everything done will be replied with a "Teri ma kashi" which means "Thank you" in Bahasa. And also where in the world would you find a shopkeeper who would ask you to bargain with at-most politeness and innocence and that too with a smiling face.

Their language, Bahasa, is not a true language but a creole language. It contains a bit of Malay, Hindi, Sanskrit, Vietnamese, and many others. May be Indonesians picked up all the good customs in these cultures when they borrowed few words from these languages.

The first thing that hits you when you land in Jakarta, the capital of Island of Indonesia or archipelago is the heat. It is supposed to be just another tropical climate destination but you feel its too hot even though when you are coming from hot country. Heat is oppressive. So you have to take refuge in the AC lounges or malls. Luckily my friend's apartment is fully air conditioned.

Even though heat is not that bearable, what makes it soothing or put aside are the shopping centers and food streets of Jakarta. It is a paradise for shopaholics. When I say that you can get almost everything from a  comb to an Audi Q7 in these malls, I am not joking. Yes it is like another Dubai with a nice set of people around you.

Another feat that almost marvels like the shopping centers is the food. Indonesians staple diet is rice based. But unlike Indians they consume a paltry portion of it. The rest of the diet includes Ayems (chicken) of different make with different variety of red meat. What I liked most is Bubur Ayem, which is basically a porridge mixed with vegetables and chicken and spiced up with sambal. Next in line is Nasi Goreng, which is basically Indonesian fried rice spiced up to burn your tongues but so tasty that it gives minute orgasms to your taste buds. An interesting thing you see in traditional Indonesian restaurants is the way food is served. First they keep the rice on the table and then display whatever the kitchen has to offer in small portions. Since everything is displayed just in front of you, it would take a mountain full of will to leave  them untouched. In the end they charge you based on what you have touched. First they would take away every dish from the table you haven't tasted. Thereafter they would count the dishes that you have taken and charge you based on it. I find this a great marketing strategy, one that would actually make you eat as much as anything just because they look so yummy.

One of those days my friend got invited to resto-bar where their band was performing. Jakarta contains many such joints. The band was too good that I ended up giving around 100$ as tip for them. I was not in my sober state to make sound judgment and this conjured me to give it. But still no regrets about that. The band was freaking awesome. We also visited a very expensive pub belonging to five star hotel. And as usual it was loud and crazy. Jakarta is cosmopolitan city with so many expats living for long period of time.You could see Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Indians and many Dutch over here.

If one wants more of a rustic picture of Indonesia then they should come out of the urban magic that Jakarta can offer. My friend took us to a place called Yogyakarta. It is around 7 hours of train journey. Unlike trains that you find everywhere else Indonesian trains don't have a sleeper facility. But they do offer comfortable push-back seats. However braze yourself up for brightly lighted compartments and no, they do not switch of these lights in the night.

Otherwise known as Jogya, Yogyakarta is tourist hub for heritage places and beaches. One of the most important relic of Buddhism is situated here. Boroboddur is one of those places where you just get awestruck by the sheer size of its gigantic structure. It is an ancient Buddhist temple (8th century BC) which might get destroyed very soon. No it is not any natural catastrophes that is going to wash it away but the newly formed Islamic state has issued a destruction call of this amazing relic. One of the reasons for me to take up this trip was beacause of this threat.

Built on massive molten stones this relic forms pyramid like structure with different levels. There are 5 levels with the topmost level having Buddha stupas enclosed in bell like structure.  Each of the level has to be circumvented in clockwise direction. On completion of each level, you progress into the next level showing the enlightenment process as one goes up in the ladder. Make sure that you carry an umbrella or hat while visiting this temple as the premise is very hot.  Once you exit from the temple, you are swarmed by street vendors selling almost every handicraft you can think of. Compared to Jakarta this place is very inexpensive and people even more warmer.

In the evening we went to near by beach. This was the nearest beach to the town and it is called Parangtritis beach.  The sun set early at these places, so plan your beach outing well. We were late and sun had almost set. Still, it didn't stop us from venturing into the water. The water is pristine and to some extend less salty. Another good thing about this beach is that sand is too grainy and soft. You could walk almost half a kilometer into the sea and still enjoy the waves without being nervous of getting washed away. After the tryst with lofty evening waves,  one can get a warm water from nearby bath houses. They charge a very nominal fee for this. There are plethora of seafood joints here. We experienced an awesome fried fish at one these shacks.

After visiting Prambanan, another Hindu temple, we returned back to Jakarta. Once back in Jakarta, our urban style returned. We went for some electronic shopping at Grand Ambassador mall. I ended up buying Polaroid camera. I think my mom would like it. The next day we boarded our flight back to India.

It was a memorable trip where I  learned one thing  that people can be nice without having something in their mind.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Great Indian Marriage Proposals

I do not wish to marry. At least for now. And I am 31 which is like the upper limit for Indian men to get married. My reasons are many which I do not wish to divulge now.

However, my family expects me to marry and settle down. So they take me to see these brides around my neighborhood. It was like working on constraint optimization problem with constraints being
1. Should be near our town within a radius of 150 km or so
2. Should be holder of professional degree and working
3. Should be not more than 30 years old
4. Most importantly - the horoscope should match

And the objective function is ...I just don't know what. So my dad, mom and granny does rounds of these search and come up with possible fantastic life partners for me. Had the Google guys seen this search process they would have actually added a matrimonial search category on Google home page.

Coming back to topic of this post.

Whatever may be the objective function they had, mine was very simple. Make the candidates reject me at all instances. Here are the few instance of how I did it.

Candidate No:1

As I was new to this bride seeing ceremony. I was invited by the candidates father to have private conversation with her. And so i went for the mission 1. After the customary hello-hi, we talked about for some 45 min. I was sure this lady was going to say yes after this very glib talk. I some how had to turn the table else I though I would be bowled over in the first over itself. And there, she gave me the fountain head I needed. She asked me if I was a savings sort of guy and whether I save a lot. I humbly said that I live in the present and don't have yet bothered about the future. So no savings. I knew this answer would be unacceptable. So strike one, she rejects me.

Candidate No:2

After a minute into conversation, she says that she likes me. I was literally stunned. I had to think fast. And then she too gives her fountain head like the previous one. She says that she wishes to work after the marriage. I say why not. Then she makes this statement - "I got this job after a lot of hard work, will it be easy for me to get a job in Bangalore ?". I start by saying no it depends on your profile and then proceeds with laborious procedure to be followed to get a good job. She rejects me by saying that she can't stress out to get a job in Bangalore:).

Candidate No:3
This was easy. I knew this one was going to reject me after seeing her way of keeping the tea tray (with a thud). She rejects me as expected. I was getting good at this thing.

Candidate No:4
By this time, I got a job offer from abroad. So the people who were looking for such candidates started approaching my parents. This candidate had finished her MBBS and was trying for PG. She had tried once and didn't get through. Our families had met before and were at ease with each other. I thought this would be deal I would finally get slaughtered. So I had to play it safe and play it well.  She told me that she required atleast 4 years time to crack and get her PG. I said I was fine  with that. Then I played my trump card; i said I won't back for say 10 years from Europe. This  put her away. She wanted to be with her parents. Reject it was again.

And the show still continuous.

PS: I know it is not good to waste the time of  both parties. However, my incorrigible parents don't give me any  option other than this. And I say it loud that every person I went to see were beautiful and sensible in their own way. It was just that I was not ready. And still am not ready.

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