A Shoo-in!

Election time is upon us once again. As the normal custom, municipal improvements are made right before election day. The powers that be in SouthAsiaLand have decided to make some "well-needed" improvements. Although it’s not visible in the photo, they have installed a brand new, shiny traffic light. Believe it or not, this intersection is called “fast car.”

There are more than a few interesting items in this photo. Firstly. the line of horse carts (max speed 10-12 mph, probably) at the “fast-car” intersection with the new traffic light. Secondly, I really enjoy the SQUARE manhole cover neatly placed on top of the ROUND man hole. Whoever is running is shoo-in for re-election.


Top Gun Pizza

No matter where I go or what I do, I still love pizza. I am so glad that I have Pizza Hut in SouthAsiaLand. For the most part, the pizza is the same, but the service is always “top notch” or “Top Gun” as you’ll probably agree. In SouthAsiaLand, there are benefits to eating-in at the Pizza Hut restaurant. To name just a couple: they have a big bell that you get to ring when you leave and they do group Bollywood-style dancing every night.

I have worked in a million restaurants. If you don’t believe me, check my myspace page ( www.myspace.com/southasiarolls ). I am quite impressed with the level of service that I get when going to Pizza Hut. After taking my order they give me a oddly-precise pizza arrival time (aka OPPAT, as we call it in the biz). “Thank you sir, your pizza will arrive in 12-14 minutes.”

This place is no joke; the servers are always wearing these sleek black uniforms and running or jumping around like crazy. If that doesn’t make the dining experience awesome enough, one server stands out above the rest. He is the “Top Gun”. When all the other servers are wearing red and black uniforms, the reflection of Top Gun stands glistening off the greasy pizza with his stylish white and red uniform. This is accented by his huge, golden “Top Gun” pin. I don’t know if he came straight from flight school or just a big Tom Cruise fan, but he is really sharp. He totally steals the show, when dance-time comes around.

When Andrea and I don’t feel like going out, we order in. I love the delivery service almost as much as eating in. The delivery guys always bring the same gusto with them on the scooter as well as in the restaurant. Upon delivery, they always repeat my order and smile when they leave.

Last night was a special occasion because we received a special bonus with our delivered pizza. It was delivered by none other than the Top Gun! I had to take a moment to compose myself... okay...wow! “The Top Gun is delivering my pizza. What an honor to be standing in the street in front of my house with the Top Gun!” I was not disappointed.

He whipped out the receipt and my two Pepsi bottles and handed them to me. “Here are your two Pepsi bottles sir and your bill.”

Smiling, I said, “Thank you.”

Pulling out my pizza box from the hot bag, he did something unexpected. Right there on the street, he opens the pizza box and says, “Sir, you have ordered for one family size simply veg. pizza with pineapple, onions, and extra cheese.” This really surprised me. Isn’t there some pizza-man code about opening the pizza on the street. It defintely cracked me up! For some strange hygienic reason, I felt a little grossed out by this and still in shock by the time he handed me the change.

He was soon on his way and I am not sure what I learned. I guess it doesn’t matter because the pizza was great and what a great memory on the side.


A Birthday Guilt-Trip

Yesterday was my birthday. I wasn’t expecting to do too much and I also wasn’t expecting to throw my own party, buy my own cake, and spend the evening stuffing cake into Commander Landlord’s mouth.

What do you normally expect to do on your birthday? At the least, you expect someone to remember. You might expect a card, an email, or maybe one of those nifty e-cards. Perhaps you are expecting a special day with a little more freedom than most days. Something like, “Sure, you can take the last Doctor Pepper, after all…. it’s your birthday.”

Having and not having expectations in SouthAsiaLand is like someone asking you, “Does your face hurt?” This is one of life’s great mysteries because there is no correct response to this question. Whether you say “yes” or “no” the response will be the same; “Well it sure is killing me!”

When expectations go unmet, disappointment follows like that laughing dog in Duck Hunt when your trusty three shooter runs out. Why do you only get three bullets? Why does the gun magically go on safety when the laughing dog pops out?

Almost as bad as unmet expectations… is unexpectation. Okay, that’s not really a word, but it should be, because not having expectations can be equally dangerous.

At this point it would be beneficial to review an age-old saying that is of no help: “Expect the Unexpected.” Although, if something is truly unexpected, then good luck expecting it.

Okay, on with the story…

So … Happy Birthday to me. I said to myself, “today, I am going to hang out, eat cookies, open some gifts, and do whatever I want.” This was a great plan until I walked outside (into SouthAsiaLand). I was so happy to be greeted with the annual Birthday mantra, “Happy Birthday! Commander Landlord’s kids proceeded to ask, “Adamz Bhaiya (big-brother) when are you throwing the party and what kinds of cake and toffees are you bringing?”

“What kind of what am I bringing where?” I said, as the Duck Hunt dog began laughing at me in my mind.

“Oh, Adamz Bhaiya you must have a party with cake and toffees!” they cross-culturally commanded, “If you don’t that is very bad.”

In my mind this began ranking up with the other things that the Commander Landlord told me were “compulsory.” Such as, using hair oil, not drinking cold drinks (makes you sick), and drinking mango milkshakes every morning (okay that one I went with).

Some might call it culture shock or just plain indignation, but I decided not to take their “advice” on the whole throwing myself a birthday party (with toffees and cake… in case you missed that). So I left the Commander’s residence and went out with my other friends for the day. We went out to dinner and ate chocolate chip cookies that were awoosome.

Shortly after dinner I received a call from the Commander inquiring about what time I would be home to have the party with the cake and the yadda-yadda. This is when the guilt trip began. I agreed to be back around nine-ish so at least I could make an appearance.

We finally arrived back at the Commander’s Palace (a.k.a. home) at 9:15 to find that his Excellency and his royal subjects had already gone to sleep. This, actually, was a nice gift, but not as nice as the gift that awaited me upstairs in front of my door.

Awaiting my arrival was the most awesome piece of SouthAsiaLand art I have ever seen. As you can see, I will be able to cherish those epic words “Have a Nice Day” for the rest of my years. This highly reflective picture will likely give me something to dream about on those 100+ days.

It is now that I remember telling myself last year around this time not to tell anyone when my birthday was. I didn’t learn this cultural nugget the first time so this year I wanted to learn it all over again.

Actually, in all honesty, I think I really have learned something from my mistakes this time. Next year, I will celebrate my birthday ‘my way’ the day before or after, but the SouthAsiaLand way on the day itself.

After all, when in Rome … throw yourself a party with cake and toffees.



What do you think of when you hear the word, "saloon." I always think of some western movie where big bad villain slowly struts into a bar. You can hear the ching-chang, ching-chang, of his spurs as he approaches the door. As the two half-sized doors swing open, all the saloon patrons immediately look to see who it is.

As the stranger walks into this saloon he quickly notices that it quite a bit different than his "western" style. There is no alcohol, no one playing cards, and no one slinging 6-shooters. This is a HAIR SALOON. Well, maybe they were trying to spell hair salon, but hair saloon is close enough.

I mean, c'mon this is practically a saloon. From the pink walls to the men giving each other face and back massages. You have got to love living in a place where the price of a roll of toilet paper costs the same as 3 haircuts. Yes the TP is a bit expensive (about a $1 per roll), but the haircuts are way cheap. These aren't just any haircuts either.

I love getting haircuts here because its a full fledged experience. One haircut costs about 50 cents - and that includes scissor work, not just some old lady at "the" Wal*Mart Supercenter whacking at you with a small weed-eater.

My first experience at the hair saloon will not be forgotten. When I walked in, I had to ask them "Is this the hair saloon?" with a half smile. The barbers jumped up and offered me his seat in a large barber's chair. I really didn't know what to expect. I also didn't know what he was going to do. Have you ever tried describing what kind of hair cut you want in a different language. I'm not real picky when it comes to haircuts, although my wife would disagree with that. I pretty much just waved him on to just start cutting and we'll see what happens.

He starts going to town with his scissors. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. His fingers cut so fast, it almost sounded like a lawn sprinkler. After a couple seconds of cutting he would swing his arms together and clap. I think he was knocking the hair out of the scissors with a comb. It was impressive.

As Bollywood films have an intermission, so do haircuts. Halfway through the haircut, the barber stops and hands me an EXTREMELY hot cup of tea. It was so hot I could barely hold it, let alone drink it. It's a good thing I am still wearing my little hair-catcher backwards-cape thing. It's a little difficult to drink hot tea while being covered in your own hair. I feel kinda bad because there men still waiting for haircuts, but I can't drink my tea any faster, it is practically boiling. After tea, he finishes up my hair using the good 'ol straight razor. I look like I should be a character on Grease with my new 50's style "do."

Next comes the shave. I am a little nervous about this. First he takes his wet hands and starts rubbing them all over my face. It feels like he is trying to open my face like a coconut. Then he starts working up the lather using a horsehair brush. He starts slapping lather all over my face like he's basting a turkey. After five minutes, he seriously kept putting more and more on until I looked like Santa.

Then shaves my face with the razor with the precision of a surgeon. I don't know how he makes it looks to easy. Then he starts up again with the lather. I thought he was finished. After being lathered and shaved for the second time. I was expecting aftershave in a bottle or something, but he pulls out this big ice-cube looking thing. It tastes really salty, but it takes the burn right out.

It's been fun, but it's time to go. I start standing up and he quickly tells me to sit down. We are not finished. He then proceeds to pull out a tiny white string. I'm thinking one thing....IS HE GOING TO FLOSS MY TEETH? He pushes my head back in the chair and somehow starts plucking out eyebrow hairs with this string. I have never seen anything like it.

After the plucking, its over...or is it? He quickly grabs a small hand held machine from the cabinet. It looks like a hand blender or something. "It is definitely time to go now," I am thinking to myself. He starts going to town with the head massager. Yeah! This thing is awesome! I was feeling smarter already.

Then he says it's time for your back massage. My What?! I am not sure exactly what they consider a back massage to be but this felt more like I was going through a smacking machine. For some reason he start smacking my back like he's petting Shamu. Before I know it, he lifts my arm behind my head and TWISTS! POP! Whoa! He does the same to other arm. This is when I start to worry. I don't think this guy has a chiropractic license. It's too late, he grabs my head and starts twisting. A snap, crackle, and pop later it is definitely time to go.

I stand up and say, "That was the best hair cut I have ever had. Can I come back tomorrow?"


Handshakes and Hold on!

        Just as the words we use are a reflection of our language and culture, so are our movements and gestures toward one another. In America, there are many unspoken "guidelines" regarding physical contact between men.
        For example, when you run into a friend on the road or at the store, a handshake is the customary greeting.The friendly handshake should last no more than a second or two. The classic "firm shake two times" is commonly modified in a variety of ways, such as "the high five," "gimme some skin," or "the daps." Such expressions of greeting and friendship are widely used, but rarely discussed. This can be attributed to the lack of interest in topics that are completely irrelevant.
        Well, one might assume that these kinetic gestures are the same or similar in all cultures. On the contrary, in a culture where male hand-holding is the norm, one can only imagine what types of expression are to be expected. To the untrained eye, handshakes in this culture might appear to be the same, but after careful observation the truth is revealed.
        The first group of handshakers are my personal favorite. They have mastered the initial approach, which appears to be the same. Then after being received they do not let go until the conversation is complete.
        It begins with a friendly smile proceeded with a glance at one's right hand as it is being extended to the recipient. As the recipient returns the right-handed gesture, their hands meet and the "shaking" begins. This is where fun begins. Instead of simply letting go of the shake, this shaker continues to hold on so that the person can't leave.
        This "cuffing" continues in 100+ degree weather despite the amount of sweat building between the two 98+ degree hands. Efforts to escape are futile. All the subtle tugging in the world cannot escape this oppressive grip. It's hard to focus on listening when one's hand is a prisoner.
        At first, the hand holding between friends made me feel a little uncomfortable, but I am slowly getting used to it. I am grateful to have friends who are willing to reach over and grab my hand in the middle of the mall so that everyone knows we are pals.


Happy Burtday Sean!

        Today is my brother Sean's 9th Birthday! He is a totally awesome little brother. He is the only person I know who can totally whip me in Playstation baseball. Pretty soon he will be smacking them over the fence in real life!
        I am so proud to have a great brother like Sean. I miss him like crazy and I sure wish I could be there with him to celebrate today. He's probably totally embarrassed by this post, but I don't care. I am the older brother and therefore it is my responsibility to embarrass my little brother at least a little bit. You ROCK Sean! Keep being awesome! I love you.
- ADAM -


Cowboy Slim!

        Adam, the mild mannered language student, was on his way to his Hindi class. For the most part, this two mile walk is uneventful on most days. This thursday was unlike any other thursday. The air was so alive that it burned in the nostrils. Perhaps it was pollution or the human waste river a half-mile away. Either way, it stunk and my story has yet to begin. Our young, dashing, and charismatic hero Adam, like I said, was on the way to his Hindi lesson. He was walking past the park near his house where the grass is green and the ground is uneven.
        Suddenly he noticed, with his keen sense of sight and razor-sharp perception skills, that two ordinary cows had wandered into the park for an afternoon snack of dandelions (oh wait, they don't grow here), and Indian itchy grass. Then a middle-aged man and woman begin waving sticks at these docile, yet highly "advanced" creatures. It seems they want the cows to leave the park. The two people are herding them towards the fence. Although the cow is worshipped and revered above all creatures, it is not allowed to eat the park grass and neither are you.
        With the pending "whacking" that awaits them, the mother cow easily slips out the park gate into the safety of the street, where cows feel safest, naturally. The younger, less experienced, adolescent cow tries to show off his "athleticism" by clearing the 3 feet high fence with one jump. What occurs next may not be suitable for small children. Well this young cow ended up only making it halfway over. The fence was just low enough that his feet could barely touch on either side. The man and woman weren't much help. They thought they could perhaps motivate the young bull over the fence with a large bamboo stick. For the next few minutes, I looked around for the hidden cameras and laughed to myself without showing any disrespect to the "holiest" of heifers.
        Someone had to come to the rescue and this looked like a job for Cowboy Slim! (that's me with a cool name...). It took a few minutes of examination to figure out how to save this young lad. Should I push him forward or push him backward? I really didn't want to get kicked in the face and my horticultural experience is pretty limited except for a few failed "tippin'" attempts.

        The time had come! This cow is going over the wall! I decided that forward would be the easiest direction. I took a nice firm grip around the "hindquarters" and after a couple grunts and heaves he was over. Successful! Cowboy Slim to the rescue!