Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nevermind NYC, If I can make it here...

This is the story of how I ended up eating Pizza Hut alone in my Pjs on my first Friday night in Bangalore.

The plan was to meet Tal & his co-workers out for dinner at a place called BBQ Nation.  Late in the afternoon, when I mentioned my dinner plans to my team at work, they not-so-subtly suggested other options in the same neighborhood. When Tal ran their ideas by his peers, they said they'd rather stick with BBQ Nation, as it was closer by. This should have been my first sign.

One of my coworkers agreed to drop me off on his way home. We were running 15 minutes late because it was pouring (it's monsoon season, and often rains in the evenings). I couldn't believe it was possible, but the traffic actually gets worse when it rains. When we arrived, I made my mad dash (sans umbrella) across the street in record time, but still arrived in the restaurant soaking wet.

I totally look JUST like this girl when I get caught in the rain.

Tal had sent me a text earlier to let me know they were seated on the third floor. I got in the elevator, and was puzzled, but not terribly alarmed, to discover that it only went up two floors. Sign #2.  I couldn't find Tal on the top floor, but it's a really big place so I called him and asked him to meet me at the entrance. Five minutes later, he called to ask where I was. 

We were both standing in the entrance of BBQ Nation, only, he was in a neighborhood called J.P Nagar and I was in a neighborhood called Indira Nagar.  We both asked around a bit, and learned that  it would probably take me an hour to get to where he was, given the traffic.  This really didn't seem worth it to me, so I decided to simply call a car service and head home.  I called the number we've been using, but learned that due to the weather, their drivers were booked thru 10pm. It was only 7:30.  

That was the precise moment when my iPhone withdrawal kicked in.  Without my scrappy sidekick Google, I figured my next best option was to ask the woman at the front desk of the restaurant if they had any numbers for car services.  No luck.

My only option was to try to hail an 'auto'.

Dear New Yorkers, you can all stop complaining about trying to hail a cab in the rain, because compared to trying to hail an 'auto' during a monsoon in Bangalore - ain't no thang.

Not only was I going to have to hail an auto, haggle for a price, and direct the driver to our apartment by myself, for the very first time, but as it turned out I first had to cross three streets to get in the right direction.  Somewhere around my 20th unsuccessful minute of standing in the rain, a couple walking by  dropped this bomb on me; because of the intense traffic drivers will only go in the direction they're already heading, so it's up to the pedestrian to get properly situated.  They also told me that they were pretty sure, that there might be a bus that would take me to my stop, but they weren't sure where or what number. I decided to wander in the direction that there might be a bus. Ten more minutes went by, no bus. But finally, an auto! The driver didn't really speak English, and my pronunciation of neighborhoods and landmarks is absolute garbage. But he was there, he didn't drive away,  his price was reasonable, and he was my only option. My well thought-out philosophy? At least if he was going to kidnap me, I'd be out of the rain.

It took about 20 minutes and a near run-in with 3 motorcyclists who decided that THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD was a great place to stop, but we finally rolled into a neighborhood that was familiar looking. I started to see signs and stores that I recognized and I finally felt like I could relax and stop praying. So of course, it was at this point that my driver asked me to point him in the right direction.

Nora: Ummmmmm
Auto Driver: WHERE WHERE
Nora:  Well...I think...
Traffic behind and around us:  ANGRY BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!
Auto Driver: PICK PICK
Nora: Straight?
Auto Driver: *Head bobble*
Nora: *Resumes Praying*

But guess what!?! I DID IT!!!! Within a few seconds I knew I'd picked the right direction as my neighborhood appeared in the horizon. 

By this time, it was almost 9. I was soaked, hungry and  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit shaken.  While there are tons of places near our apartment to get food, the only one I knew for certain to be reliable* was Pizza Hut. (*You have to be very conscious of food here. Neither Tal nor I have gotten sick yet, but from what I hear it's only a matter of time.)

So despite the fact that it's been at least 7 years since I've had Pizza Hut (or really any other fast food...) I found myself ordering a Tandoori Paneer personal pan, and heading back to my apartment to ring out.

On the bright side, when my coworkers ask me on Monday morning if I did anything interesting this weekend - I'll finally have a good story to tell!!


  1. Lololololololololol xoxoxo xoxoxo
    mr & mrs a

  2. I'm an avid reader. This is hands-down the best feed in my Google Reader list.

    I'm glad that you're settling ... ah, that you're there safely. Just think: the harder and more trying it is to find your rhythm there, the more truly Robot Ninja that rhythm will be. And you'll have that much more character.

    Mad props for your conquistador 'tude.

    - Matthew Hartwick

    1. Matthew! I'm so glad you're following me. But I'm going to have to insist you not comment in the future, because your comments are funnier than my post. Hope all is well in NY! Your teammates here are great :)

  3. Great story, Nora!
    I specially liked the dialog with the auto driver, really captures the frantic traffic scene.
    And...tandoori pizza doesn't sound too bad.
    Happy monsoons!

  4. Tandori paneer personal pan, huh?
    Very good story!

  5. Auto Driver: PICK PICK
    Traffic behind and around us: INCREDIBLY HOSTILE BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!!!
    Nora: Straight?
    Auto Driver: *Head bobble*
    Nora: *Resumes Praying*

    This was my favorite part. *Head Bobble*... so true. It's not a yes or a's just a bobble.

  6. OMG you are HILARIOUS! More stories please! I MISS YOU!!!!