Dil hai Hindustani (Blog marathon post 1)

Oh my God! To be very honest I did not expect such an enthusiastic response for my toying with the idea of a blog marathon. I had thought that I would get about 25-28 comments and I could wriggle out of it. :P No such chance! I am really overwhelmed at the really encouraging remarks I have got in my last post. So yes! I am doing it :) A new post every day for the next 30 days :)  Here is my first.

Sometime back I had done a post called phoren country-desi dil which was about the subtle and not so subtle differences between living in India and living in the UK.(click on link to read it)  This post is  a kind of  sequel to that.(so my  English and non-Hindi speaking friends will have to excuse me for this one too)

Now I have lived here for more than a year and I still find I am a total desi at heart. I do appreciate my host country and I admire many things about it. Yet certain differences hit me harder than Gabbar Singh's laugh in Sholay jolts the unsuspecting victim as he quivers in fright. :-)
I list them here in no particular order.

1. One thing  I found in UK which made my eyes pop out more than the eyes of  those drunken men watching and salivating over  Bipasha in bidi-jalai-le song was something called the Child harness which I was seeing for the first time in my life. The very first time I saw it, I stared in amazement to make sure that it was indeed a child at the end of it and not a dog! In India, I have seen only dogs being walked this way. Here it is a common thing to use for little children! ( Image from the site: http://www.babies-born.co.uk/HarnessesandReins.html )
When I asked an English friend about it, he was very surprised to find that we do not have them in India.
"Oh!" he exclaimed "How did you ensure the safety of your children when they were little?" he asked in amazement.
" Well, I always carried them on my hip and when they were old enough to walk I held their hands and walked them!" I replied. Here I have seen parents actually tugging this harness when the child wanders too far and  I do feel a little sorry for that tiny human being at the other end of the harness, though I do know the parents have the safety of the child uppermost in their mind. But still my desi-dil cannot take it.

2. Something that I really admire about this country is the absolute gentlemanliness and good manners when a minor auto-mobile accident has occurred. In India, the first thing one would hear is the choicest of expletives involving mother and sister uttered in not so soft voices and the expletives involving other parts of anatomy increasing in direct proportion to the damage caused to the vehicle. :-) But in the U.K, if something like this has happened, people pull over to a side. They then gently come out of their vehicle and say softly  "Oh dear! Are you Ok? I am so sorry." (You have to actually strain your ears to hear what they are saying. They are so quiet!) They then exchange their numbers and get in touch with their insurance companies and politely drive away and the matter is sorted in less than 3 minutes. In India, you can expect a huge crowd to gather and even people not remotely associated with either of the vehicles would be the ones goading the owners to "maar saale ko" :P :)

3.In India, organising children's birthday parties would mean that there will be at least 40 children on your list who would be classmates, friends from dance class, friends from karate class, friends from residential complex, friend's cousin, cousin's friend, cousins, friends's friends --oh well--you get the picture. But in UK, you invite only the closest friends and the ones who truly matter. There is also no concept of 'return gifts' which used to be such a useless but mandatory exercise in India . Here, there is also  no 'trying to out-do the other' which I used to observe in India, where if one mother hosted her child's birthday party with a princess theme, then another would probably fly the kids in a helicopter with a real princess! :-) Needless to say I definitely prefer organising  birthday parties in the UK, despite the fact that if you compare costs, it would cost more in the UK to invite 6 kids than it would cost to invite those 40 kids back in India. (Yes ,UK is prohibitively expensive)

4.Coming to the expensive part, if I convert the amount to Indian rupees, I would pay Rs.74.50 for a loaf of bread here and Rs.84.60 for 2 litres of milk. My daily newspaper would cost me a minimum of Rs.35 and on weekends it would cost Rs.135! A cab would charge me Rs.338 for a distance of 3 kilometres which would take a 3 minute ride :-) If I hire a house maid, I would be paying Rs.700 for an hour!!! :-) (and you have to hire them for a minimum of two hours)
Needless to say I am now an expert in vacuum cleaning,  dusting, making beds, cooking, mopping and even gardening! U.K does make one very self sufficient and I wonder now why in the world I would wait for maids back in India when it takes me just a fraction of the time to do it myself and the job I do is ten times better too!(Yeah I know--My prospects for  alternate career are indeed bright :-))

5. In Sainsburys (which is one of the  larger supermarket chains here where you go for your grocery shopping) you can be sure that the group of people making a beeline for 'natural yoghurt' (what we call dahi) aisle are Indians. This really makes me smile :-) They have rows and rows of all varieties of yoghurt ranging from hazelnut flavour to strawberry to black currant. The plain yoghurt  is kept at one corner in one particular aisle (the store is so huge it has more than 40 aisles)  and at any given point of time, it would be Indians who would be around that dahi aisle like it was the hidden entrance to the secret passage in Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom. :-) We cannot make dahi here , like we do back in India(so we have to buy it) , as the weather is too cold. It is just 17 degrees here and it is 'luuuuvly weather' as the English would say. :-)

6. I have to really pronounce each word  slowly and correctly with a proper English accent whenever I need to be understood by an automated voice prompt service.Here, most things are automated and human interaction is minimum. The other day I was calling up my TV service provider and I was asked by an automated voice to say my post code for identification to gain access to the system. After saying it twice and the automated voice telling me robotically "Sorry, the Post code you mention was not recognised" I realised that I have to switch to an English accent. I did that and it granted me access :-) I must admit I felt like Salman Khan for a long time after that :) (If you have heard him speak English you know what I mean)

7. One thing I like about UK is how I am seen here as a 'person with an own identity' which is very different from what a woman in India would experience. In India, a woman is always either someone's wife or someone's mother or if she is a young girl, she is usually identified in the society or the community as someone's daughter.(yes it is so even today except perhaps in the Metros)  Here in UK, you are seen as a woman first. When I first entered this country, I actually had to fill up a form which asked me if I was married to Satish and whether indeed he was the biological father of both my children! I found it amusing at that time but in the UK, having children by different fathers, living in together without getting married, divorces are all extremely common. In fact, people are surprised to find that we have been married for more than 15 years now and both children are OUR children. (not his, mine and hers as seems to be common here from what I have seen) :-)

All said and done while  I do enjoy living here and UK is an absolutely amazing country,but deep inside, phir bhi dil hai 100% Hindustani!  :-)

Current mood video (see on the right) : Desi Girl! :-)
 Tomorrow:  Some marvellous images from this amazing country with short notes about each.


  1. nice one!!! loved it.. first blog and a good start!

  2. i meant first blog as part of the marathon 2010!

    i agree to most points raised by you .. share the same feeling after leaving for almost 4 years in UK

  3. Lovely post :) So much in common between US and UK w.r.t India. But ya, whenever I think of "home", its India...even after 10+ years :)

  4. Very amusing reading some of the differences between India and Uk. This has aroused in me curiousity to know how these cultural differences get accumulated over a course of time. I will try to find out and share with u and others. Thanks for a nice blog, waiting for the next one:-)

  5. Great... Now would get to read one blog for every month..Its a pleasure reading ur posts.. :)

    The beginning is bang on ... Liked the indian flavor in the foreign dish..:)

  6. Hey Preeti,
    Nice to seee you start back your blog marathon... i too will do it some time.

    I was away on vacation to Pune for 3 weesks so i was rarely got time to be online....

    And one happy news to share, during this visit i got engaged to a sweet frind of mine "Manu"

    If u want a engagement pic, check on my blog, i have added as a post.


    Waiting to read your next day and every other day blog marathon.

  7. Lovely post! I totally agree with you as well having lived abroad for most of my life. Keep it going!!

    oh and btw, Alles gute means Best of luck...Its german..:-)

  8. Great start and some amazing info. It really interested me since I'm planning to move to Cardiff for my higher studies.

  9. Super post....enjoyed every bit of it, laughed uproariously thru the 2nd one...yeah well cd relate to it as I had my fair share of accidents and gaali giving;-D

    Everything in UK sounds expensive except for one; Dubai charges rs.100+ for 2 litres milk. Stiff competition eh;-D.

    Great start....keep 'em coming!!!!

    @Meera....playing Santa in the middle of summer are we;-D

  10. child harness!!!!!!!!

  11. like like..
    like the spirit..

  12. I still find hard to believe that people actually use a harness for children, I mean to me it looks like a dog leash....

    I so agree with you on the second point, I believe India does need to control the road rage or this would be on of the major reasons of crime in India specially in our cities.

    Best of Luck for the Marathon...

  13. so true, you can never get away from the desi roots...

    price wise, dubai seems to be close competition, i feel like i've become a converting machine after moving away from india and when i finally feel comfy with the new currency its time to move again :)

    happy blogging, hopefully i can keep up with my commenting speed :p

  14. Awww! That was cute Preeti... good beginning...:)

  15. I am new to your blog Preeti and I totally loving it here :)
    That was a wonderful post to start the marathon...looking forward to more interesting posts all through the month.

    Keep up the good work :)


  16. Bonjour Madame,
    Well, for the next 29 days my coffee is gonna have some company :)

    Harness for a child??? I know you ain't kidding but I've got to say this 'you've got to be kidding me!!!'
    I've long stopped calculating exchange rates and so everytime I'm in India, I just indulge and make the most of it ;)

    Thank you for writing, desi girl and I absolutely admire your perseverance. I could never write a marathon let alone run one!

  17. Well, I meant the marathon the other way round, you do know what I mean, right?

  18. Great post!! Had a few similar experiences during our stint in US!!
    Felt like reading my own mind reading your post!! Good luck with the marathon!!


  19. As always - lovely post.
    I can say "same here, same here" about most of the points !!

  20. Yeah I know--My prospects for alternate career are indeed bright :-)--Too gud...Lovely post

  21. The Harness for kids is so cruel na? Im glad we dont use it here.

    lovely post...now waiting for tomorrow :)

  22. Chandni: thanks :)I don't think it is cruel. Because they are not hurting the child or anything.Just that we are not used to it :)

    Nischii: heh heh hanks :)

    Life beguns: thank u :)

    Durga:Thanks :)

    Sparkling: yes.I do know what you mean :) I too have stopped converting, but for the post I had to ;-)

    Chatterbox: Thank you! Welcome and enjoy your stay here :)

    Pointblank: Thank U :)

  23. Suma: Dive in dive in! :)

    Prats: It does look liek a dog leash. But here it is like a safety precaution.

    Vinz: thanks :)

    Rm: yes!!!!! :D

    Reflections: heh heh ..yeah post was meant to be light hearted only :) Glad you saw the humour :) Yes--stiff competition indeed. But I dont mind paying so much as we need not boil the milk here! In India I used to always forget and it would always overflow. :P LOL at your comment to Meira.

    Meira: heheh :)

    Shalini: Good luck with your studies:)

  24. Great start to the marathon :) You have provided a good perspective on the cultural differences.

    By the way, you will have to stop converting into INR else you will get weighed down by the prics :)

  25. Renu: Danke schon :) (i knew that i did not google that :) )

    Anish: hearty congrats to you and Manu! :) Do convey my regards to her :)

    Sushobhan: thanks so much :)

    Roshan: Yes. that would be interesting. :)

    Shachi: i guess u can take an Indian out of India but you cannot take India out of an Indian :)

    Vision: thank you. Due to crazy time constraints will not be able to visit :P Sorry :) pardon my honesty :P :)

    Mihir: thanks a lot! :) Yes--you would know exactly what i mean :)

  26. Palsworld: thank you. of course I don't convert anymore. This is to give an idea on relative comparison :)

  27. super start! I likes!! :)

  28. nice post... Felt the same when I was in US.
    Btw Great start :)

  29. nice post... Felt the same when I was in US.
    Btw Great start :)

  30. Great post! :) Another thing that I am guessing would also be that your kids' friends would call you Preeti instead of Preeti aunty :P :D Or do they call you Mrs Shenoy? :)

  31. Ajay: Thank you :) Yes indeed.I had mentioned this in the other post. To top it they call me 'pretty' not even Preeti! :D Mrs.Shenoy, mostly only Mr.Mittal calls me so :P :D

    Vivek: thank U :)

    Mamta: thank U! thank U :)

  32. enjoyed reading the post.the child harness concept can't even think off.whichever part of the world we may go phir bhi 'yeh dil hai hindustani',n there are certain things to which we can say 'that it only happens in india '

  33. Nice post! :)

    About the child leash - that was one of the first things I saw here. The next thing I saw was a girl wearing a long top (which looked like a man's shirt) and no trousers or jeans or skirt :P and I asked my friend if its considered complete attire here or has she actually just forgotten to wear the rest half of her dress :)

  34. Wonderful post... I am so glad I am going to get a dose of good read for 29 days now :)

    I was about to come by post the comment vouching my support for the marathon, but was a tad bit late :(

  35. Like Aathira above, I also wanted to cheer for you yeste..but I wasn't able to post my comment from work! :) The fact that you're doing this marathon second time makes me instinctively wanna stand up and bow down deep before you in admiration!! You truly inspire. Best wishes your way ;-D

  36. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Je Baat!
    As now you are on this blog marathon, I'll TRY to do a comment marathon.

    I might just comment in a simple smiley but I'd TRY to do it for sure.

    For this post-
    1. How on earth can someone treat his/her child as pet animal? (India +1)

    2. Being gentleman is nice but I'd surely miss the scene on the road (UK +1)

    3. Mera time aana baki hai, no comments (draw)

    4. Direct currency conversion is not a good idea to calculate. I'd prefer counting every pound as Rs 10. Doing work yourself is the best, but maid in India is cheap if compared (India +1)

    5. Ghar ki dahi & India ka mausam is +1 anytime (India +1)

    6. UK english = proper grammer, dialect, accent, etc etc. Indian english = communication done (India +1)

    7. Identity (UK +1)

    **Final Score**
    India = 4
    UK = 2
    Undecided = 1

  37. Rohit: It was NOT meant to be analysed! Tag of the post said 'funny/amusing'. :-) You're just supposed to laugh over it and forget about it..NOT to be taken literally!But thanks for the comment :)

    Lostworld: thanks a lot :)

    Aathira; Support duly noted! Thanks! :)

    MS: Big girl of small girl? :P I have seen big girls wearing those :P :)

    Shaggy: yes--i guess :)

  38. heheh I had similar experiences in the US when I first came here.. now I guess it has become way of life :)

  39. A big fat woman ;) with long legs :P

  40. woohoo!
    you're doing it!

    great post, real (and amusing) insight :P

    the girl thing is as rampant in the metro cities as anywhere else. (i wrote about it in a post http://sleepykidlivingadream.blogspot.com/2010/05/better-half.html)

    good luck with the marathon :)

  41. MS: LOL :)

    Doli: yes. i have got used to it too now :)

  42. A cool desi start :). I was astounded to read about the child harness. Poor little things. Looking forward to rest of the marathon... Keep rocking!!!

  43. Wow good start Preeti :)
    Child harness is a new info for me.. Have never seen that b4..

  44. Dhanya: i too hadn't :)

    Anusha: yes--they are common here :) Thanks :)

  45. Enjoyed reading every bit of this! Love your posts! :)

  46. I love all your blogs. Nice post.
    I want to tell you something about dahi. I live in Michigan, USA where we have cold winters, temperature even dipping to negative Fahrenheits.

    Still we can make dahi at home. Boil or at least warm up milk well. Let it cool down to a lukewarm temperature, add 2 spoons of starter yogurt and mix well. I use a churn to mix it well. Then put it in the oven with the oven light on overnight. And lo, in the morning you have home made dahi! The number of hours you have to keep it depends on the weather. In summer, you can still do the same, but you need to keep in oven only for about 5 hours. Try it and let me know. Cheers!

  47. Great blog. I was reading point#4 repeatedly. The reason for all the good things in UK may be due the facts mentioned in item 4.Luxury life at a higher price...:)

  48. Nice one.......... i liked it...bt the last lines r my favourite...........tht is " phir bhi dil hai hindustani......"

  49. its ..same as in US..but if we compare to India..yup..its different... nice post!

  50. Hi Preeti, quite a bit late to comment here - really happy to see that you are on a blog marathon again. Really looking forward to wonderful posts again :D
    Liked this post a lot and seriously was shocked by the child harness thingy - that was way too much!

  51. Child harness! I never heard of such a thing, even in the US. It's a little upsetting.
    And hazelnut yogurt! That would be yummy. I've seen tons of flavors here but no hazelnut.
    All in all, lovely post - great beginning to the marathon :)

  52. child harness? really? wow strange...


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