Monday, June 20, 2011

Forget every time you've been told that you don't have an accent

I was re-remembering today an observation: Indians talk with an Indian accent, but from their perspective, you talk with a really ridiculous American accent! Sure, some people here have American family or have themselves spent a lot of time in American or watch Friends and so they think you sound like Chandler or whatever, but that's sure not everybody, and it's definitely not the guy you're trying to get your 50 cent (!!!) breakfast from. Also, while it's an overgeneralization Americans tend to be pretty comfortable with the various ways English pronunciation gets mangled from Texas to Quebec to New Hampshire to Cancun, so it's likely that the person you're talking to has an even harder time than you with their conversation partner's accent. It's just a reminder that America, and even what we usually think of as the "English-speaking world," doesn't own English.

Four years ago when I was here I worked with Nels Beckman, a recent CMU grad, and Aditya, the full time employee I'm also working with this time. Nels got there first and we tried to have a Skype conversation, and Aditya and I could.not.understand.each.other at all. Nels could understand Aditya becasue they were in the same room, and Nels and I could understand each other over the finicky Skype connection because we both speak Globalized Southern American English or whatever, but my mentor and I were hopeless - Nels almost repeated everything either one of us said for the benefit of the other. Anyway, this was all prompted by a five minute conversation I had with Aditya explaining what a "thing-a-ma-jig" is.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bangalore World 10K

Today I was a spectator at a race for the first time since I watched the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2009. Two friends from the lab, Ted and Sam, were running, and I decided to be a lazy bum (and a cheap bum, as I'm still in a suboptimal cash flow position while the slow gears of Indian bureaucracy get around to opening my bank account). My 10K was on Thursday, when Ted and Sam tried to get to the late registration and I showed them how to get to the starting line with a minimum of street crossings: getting familiar with the area is paying off!

I walked down to the race course at 7am and was able to cheer on the Microsofties at three different points in the race course. Ted and Sam are skinny fast track runners (if I'd run, they would have beat me by about 10 minutes), so the pack was pretty thin even after they'd passed my last cheering point around the 8K mark. I walked to the finish line, but then decided that was a zoo, so I walked back to the grand avenue. Cubbon Park's grand avenue isn't the most photogenic part of the park, but it's easily the prettiest if you ask me, and it's a great way to start the race's homestretch. I watched the race at a spot a few meters before the point where this photo was taken.

So, if you ever find yourself - an American who is, to a first approximation, extroverted - in a foreign country that is, to a first approximation, English speaking, and you find yourself watching a 10K, I strongly suggest you scream your voice out cheering on the runners. Because, hey, sometimes it's fun to spend a Sunday playing to stereotypes, and I the "we are loud and possibly crazy, but usually not in a scary way" is a stereotype of Americans that I'm generally happy to encourage. My spot was where I'd bother a minimal number of the quietly watching Indians, and I just yelled and clapped and cheered for about 20 minutes until my voice gave out completely. It was a ton of fun, and the runners really responded positively to the possibly crazy white guy who was soaked in sweat from the effort of jumping around and cheering. (I'm a sweaty man!) I got a great reaction for the running crowd: lots of cheers back, lots of people going from a walk to a run, dozens and dozens of high fives, and a half dozen requests for me to join the race.

As I walked home, I passed the corporate charity runners, who started later and were in big packs. Basically, the Bangalore World 10K is a 10K race followed by a 10K parade. Weird.

Sunday afternoon I was going to work on a tech report for a collaboration with CMU folks, but I cooked (man, I need to get some spices. lentils without spices are mad boring) and watched TV shows on the internet instead. Oops!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hike on a hot day!

Did a ton of walking today, and took some pictures too; will probably try to integrate the pictures into a project later on.

Had my my first moment of feeling on-edge and vulnerable; having drained my pantry from the previous shopping trip, I needed to convert some money (America-style) into money (India-style) in order to eat! However, once I got to MG road, the main currency exchange places were all closed for Sunday. I was really planning to head back and try to rustle up something to survive on from the snack kitchens at Microsoft or something,* but then I passed a handbag shop (!) that did exchanges, and traded money. Then I went to Empire Hotel, a nearby Indian place that I remembered from last visit, and ate delicious food ravenously.

On the way back, I was walking down Infantry Road and realized I was pretty confident that that road leading off to the right was a shortcut (I did not have my GPS). I was very excited when I was right; I really feel like I'm getting a feel for the "neighborhood." I have no aspirations to do any sort of "pac tom" project, but I'd informally just like to know where I am and how to get home from anywhere within a three or four mile radius of my apartment, which would be a fair portion of Bangalore and would probably put me ahead of most residents and many autorickshaw drivers. I think I'm well on the way there.

By the way, my cousin is currently in Uganda, and has a blog of his own. He posted a video with the comment "the traffic is insane." This has maybe made me just a little bit competitive, so expect some crazy traffic videos next week. Until then I leave you with these pictures from last time.
Windsor Manor Road Bridge Accident
* In reality, I probably would have just broken down and tried to use a credit card; my cards should presumably work here, but in case "oh hi, I'm in bangalore" trips an alarm and the card is denied, I've been avoiding this when I don't have a backup of paying in cash.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday run, Saturday walk

Failed to do any running this week, so this morning I got up early and ran for a bit around Cubbon Park, and then after piddling around the office for a bit, took the scenic route home from work today; I'll have to do that again with a camera to actually give people a sense of the place.

My priority for tomorrow is to walk down to MG road and try to trade some U.S. dollars for some rupees so I can re-stock my kitchen. It is an inevitable complication of working in a foreign country that you always start out with an inconveniently small amount of foreign currency and end up with an inconveniently large amount of the same.

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

2 Runs

Yesterday I talked about my walk, but Saturday (2 days ago) and today I went on some runs; these are likely to be more frequent.

Saturday's run was just around the block, I'm still recovering from the Pittsburgh Marathon and mostly just wanted to stretch my legs. This morning (Monday) I ran this route, which more-or-less went around the cricket stadium. I had plans to run the length of Cubbon Road and back, but those plans were not to be: in the confusion of construction in Minsk Square, I took Queen's Road towards MG Road instead of Cubbon, and then overshot MG Road, circled the stadium, and made my way back on Infantry Road, a path I'd thought though a little bit after the walk yesterday.

Having a GPS watch was absolutely a godsend for this run: I didn't have a clear idea where I was at any point between Minsk Square and Infantry Road, but I knew whether I was more-or-less running towards or away from familiar areas.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bangalore, Take II

I'm back in Bangalore! I'm not planning on traveling as much as last time, but I am going to try to get to know the city better through running and walking. Right now, the only part of Bangalore where I am confident that I know where I am is on the route between my hotel and Bashyam Circle, which I walked almost daily the last time I was here, (the office is right before Bashyam Circle).

Today I tried to walk to Commercial Street and/or MG road, but kind of failed: once I got to the bus station I was confused and thought I may have gotten off track: I had not, and if I'd kept going straight I would have ended up at Kamaraj Road as I intended. Instead, I turned right at the bus station, but then needed to go one block further than I actually went in order to get to Cubbon Road. I did, however, recognize the intersection of Infantry and Central as a hazy landmark, so I may try to pass that intersection again from another direction to reinforce that.

Anyway, after I bailed and found my way back to familiar relatively-familiar Cunningham Road, I went to the new Au Bon Pain (right across the street from the McDonald's that didn't get the memo about Indian Independence Day), where I got a delicious cappuchino that cost me $0.90. If those guys had WiFi I'd probably move in! Back at the apartment I was able to reconstruct my path with high confidence.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Photos from trip

Finally got the photos up on Picasa: