Friday, June 22, 2007

A few random points:

  • I feel compelled to go back and correct the misimpression I gave about the quality of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom as a movie. Mr. Bachchan's role as a sutradar (sutradhar? where is my dictionary?) was quite awesome, and the music is snappy. Otherwise, I have to say the movie was really just a timepass. Don't get me wrong--I'd pay INR90 to sit in an A/C cinema hall and watch Preity Zinta do just about anything, but that doesn't mean it was a good movie. As far a PZ goes, I'd say that she really needs to find better roles. It couldn't have been in the least bit challenging for her. Well, physically, I suspect it was grueling, those are some high intensity picturizations. But as far as substance? Not worth her time.
  • There is a "closed for renovations" sign on Big Shopper. I suspect the sign should really read "Closed because Reliance Market down the street put us out of business," but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not sure I get this whole Reliance Market thing. Can you imagine shopping at Cingular Market or the New AT&T Market? Rajapark and the surrounding neighborhoods are definitely high-end (one of the host fathers described the houses here as "bilkul palatial"), and Reliance Market shows it. Its major selling point seems to be its produce section--even I have purchased apples there, each with their own little "Washington State Apple" sticker (because I am doing my part to help my family's local economy, even if I'm doing from without in a global economy, right?). Anyway, mostly it seems to be a place for rich locals to shop without having to haggle over prices. Also, it seems to be a place to buy microwave popcorn, but I don't know anyone here with a microwave, so I'm not sure what good that does anyone.
  • Survived the first full week of classes, took my first exam. It's hard to get too worked up when you're not actually being given a grade. Anyway, we just got next week's schedule, and the homework seems to have doubled. Plus there is the major project to think about. I should be able to do something about the jantar mantar. The project is really a way to force us to go out to talk to people. We need to write up a questionnaire, go ask random strangers all the questions, then write a paper about it. Some crazy student once wrote a 45-page paper for their final. I think if I can manage 10, that will be good. Anyway, I think I'm going to hang out at the various jantar mantars and just ask people why they came and what they think about them. It's nothing I can really use officially in my research, but you never know, I might hear something really useful.
  • Speaking of the jm, apparently they had a gathering at the Delhi jm to watch the occultation of Venus by the moon. The same may have happened here in Jaipur, but I was sick and thinking seriously about dying that night, so I missed the entire thing.
  • Back to the topic of Reliance: So, I paid almost $40 to get a Reliance cell phone. That price included the phone, the activation fee, 220 local minutes, plus INR575 worth of international minutes (about 110 minutes). For some reason I was given a Delhi phone number, but everything seemed fine. A couple of days ago, my SMS function suddenly stopped working, and I kept getting a message saying the SMS mobile function hasn't been activated on the network. Back to Reliance, where I paid INR35 for 1000 local SMS messages. I was assured that as long as I had minutes on my 575 card, I could SMS to the States, too. Today, I am still receiving this message about not being activated in the network. So, here's the question. Do I go back to the same store, where everything has to happen in Hindi and there's no paper work to back up these transactions, and no one really explains what the problem is, they just say it's fixed, or do I do the colonial thing and pay INR50 for a rickshaw to Gaurav Towers where there is a very posh Reliance store with English-speaking employees and many forms and explanations for every transaction? I think I'll try the Hindi-wala people one more time, but if it doesn't work, I'm off to GT. And maybe I'll eat at Pizza Hut while I'm down there.
  • Dude. The rickshawwallah I had on the day I got sick was TOTALLY singing Ye Dosti from Sholay. I mean...seriously. I leaned forward and asked him (in Hindi), "Hey, dude, are you singing Ye Dosti from Sholay?" And he said, yes, and wasn't that a great movie? So we talked about what a great movie that was, and then he told me that in June he was going to Washington with a friend, and was it nice there? And then he stopped at the petrol station for a drink of water. And then he took me to Rajapark.
  • Sunday night, a young father was out with his little boy, teaching him how to ride a bike in front of my hotel. Well, that's okay, because there's not much traffic there. The kid fell off a couple of times while I was watching. Fifteen minutes later, I saw the kid out in major traffic on Big Shopper Road, father trotting happily behind. I hope the kid made it home alive.

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