Friday, 7 June 2013

Ta-ta to Tata tea, Indian News Confusion and Various Other Bits and Bobs

Term has ended at Woodstock and we are winding down before a trip back to Blighty. I've completed my first full academic year at Woodstock, and have now been in India for 18 months! How time flies! It's been a great experience but I feel like I've only scratched the surface of trying to understand this great country. Anyway, here in no particular order are some more observations on life here:

Tata teabags and my favourite mug
Anybody For Tata Tea? No Thanks!

Tata is a huge Indian multinational company which has its fingers in lots of different pies, including companies making steel (it owns Corus in the UK), trucks, as well as having a hotels arm and a beverages division which makes tea.

Yes they have even tried their hand at teabags...I purchased some the other day. But unfortunately the tea they produce is pretty disgusting. My wife says it's probably leftovers from the factory floor...and as an Englishman obviously this is a big issue...tea needs to be tasty!

Although Tata is obviously excelling in its many business ventures across the board, posting profits of billions of pounds, I would encourage anyone in India to give their tea a wide berth and say Ta-ta to their teabags!

Read All About It: Indian News Confusion

As a journalist and news junkie I have missed the British press while living here. We do get BBC World News which is a good global perspective, but trying to watch the Indian news and read the national press here has proved unsatisfactory.

This is because it is largely incomprehensible to me. Indian television news is a horrendous experience, think Sky Sports News on steroids and you're only halfway there. It consists of incessant hyperbolic captions rolling across the screens while often four, five or six people are interviewed simultaneously, each shown on screen (see photo below). This leads to people just shouting over each other and the viewer being completely lost as to the point of the story, and gives you a headache.

The newspapers are not much better. Both TV and the press assume a certain level of knowledge and give precious little context. The headlines are full of acronyms and strange abbreviations, most of which I have no idea what they stand for. A recent copy of the Times of India, supposedly one of India's best papers (but not in reality), illustrates this well. Here are some of the headlines:
Screen overload: a typical shot from Indian TV news

IIT-B buries painful birthday bumps in the dumps
Channelize savings to fin assets, says PM
CSK CEO Gurunath 'missing', gets Mum cops' summons
53%: That's what this year's UPSC topper scored
Rlys gains as Lalu hires 13 special trains for RJD rally
Digvijaya slams SC, CAT for 'belittling' CBI and IB

No I haven't got a clue what most of the headlines meant either, even after reading the stories. Oh well, maybe in a few years' time I'll be a bit more au fait with the news lingo...although I'm not holding my breath!

And finally...

Finally, the BBC recently posted this list of ten things you may not know about India. The car horns have been covered on this blog...the spitting is another pet hate...below are some more observations on life here and links to a few other things.
A metal based meal in Mussoorie

  • I no longer shave at home, because it is so much easier to go the barber who will give me the closest shave for just 50 rupees every couple of weeks
  • Langurs are our friends (langurs meri sati), rhesus monkeys are not.
  • Food in restaurants in served on metal plates (see photo right), which gives dining a completely different feel.
  • Having already met the Dalai Lama and Sachin Tendulkar, I was lucky enough to interview Booker-winning author Kiran Desai who was in Mussoorie last month. Read my interview here. Who'd have thought I'd have met all these folk in the foothills of the Himalayas?!
  • Kirsten and I were also featured in the Guardian Weekly readers' column in April.
  • We often see donkeys on the road, delivering milk and weaving between cars and scooters (see pic below). They have bells on them which make a lovely sound as they walk. It's a reminder how India is modernising but many people still live by traditional, more simple methods.
  • My colleague Abe Okie and I made this mockumentary on food at Woodstock for a story festival here last month. You can watch it on the link below. Not wishing to sound vainglorious, but it is hilarious! Enjoy it if you watch it.

That's all for now folks! Have a great summer, whatever you're up to, and see some of you soon.

Dude delivering dood (milk) by donkey