Posts tagged Travel
How to Live in a Foreign Country: Six Easy Steps

1. Clothes: As soon as you land you need to decide whether you want to fit in or stand out and LOOK like a foreigner. Sometimes the colour of your skin decides that for you. But all is not lost, a few casual adjustments to your wardrobe and you can fade into the crowd. The other option is easy: just keep wearing whatever you bloody like no matter what the temperature is or how many weird stares you get. This is called the permanent tourist method. 2. Food: Either start loving the food in local restaurants or LEARN HOW TO COOK LIKE YOUR MOM. For most of us the latter is impossible, so you're left with the more adventurous option - tolerate the local food and surprise yourself everyday with new discoveries. E.g. "Yum!," or "I'm never going to that place again!" or "Oh God the horror..." Beware: after several months your adventurous nature may disappear.

3. Transport: The most fun part of any new country is the unpredictable and new buses, taxi's, roads, and train services. If you are from a country with a horrible and inefficient system you will appreciate the calm monotony of a dependable service. If you are from a country with awesome transport you will hate it and need to improve your survival skills.

4. Night Life: If you manage to make cool friends in the foreign country you will go to to the best places in town which are awesome no matter where you are (seriously, anywhere). If you don't make cool friends then you can meet other losers like yourself and stumble around the foreign country in an adventurous and potentially dangerous (in some places) manner. This is also okay.

5. Weather: If you are very good at living in a foreign country and manage the first four steps easily, then I can assure you that weather is always a problem. If you are from a very cold country you will love the warm and unbearably hot temperature and bake yourself pink everyday until you fall sick. If you are from a hot country you will hate the frozen foreign land and wonder why God has forsaken these people.

6. Language: This is the deal breaker for most people. The most practical thing to do is to choose a foreign country where you KNOW THE LANGUAGE. If you are stupid you will not do this. Instead you will try to learn an absolutely new language and in some cases, new SCRIPT, and struggle to do simple tasks like buying bread and reading the menu. You are truly an adventurous spirit because after one year of this you will either become an expert or start hating this complex and mystical foreign language. In extreme cases you can just use sign language, with a calculator, and point at things (this is also part of the permanent tourist method and locals will secretly or openly hate you depending on how polite the foreign country is).

Mastering these six steps will make you an expert in living in foreign countries, and don't let the negativity fool you, it's actually awesome fun! (sometimes).

Or check out Nine Advantages of Living in the Third World


My first few glimpses of the streets nearby. Suddenly the importance of weather forecasts has trebled, because it could mean the difference between freezing and sort of bearable (for me). In Bombay there's no need to check the weather because the temperature varies between 25-36 degree C throughout year, and during the monsoons it rains everyday.

Ramoji Film City

An entire city of film sets, from Bollywood and Hollywood to famous monuments and what not. Located in the outskirts of Hyderabad the place seems to be more of a tourist destination than a place for movie directors to find their perfect location. Apparently, it isn't as popular as it once was in the film industry, but it's still an entertaining experience. A bright red tourist bus takes you around the massive place, while a guide rattles off the number  of movies and famous directors that have chosen locations here.

tourist bus at ramoji


Hollywood sign

This is called Hollywood st. for some reason, where the houses look western, perfect for a scene in a foreign country :)

Hollywood st

Jimmy's Drive In

Jimmy's Drive In

The gas station near Jimmy's:

gas station near jimmy's

A train engine which says Texas Mail:

texas mail

The wild west area has several actors and stunt men who perform an entire action sequence, blowing up banks, etc.


Now for the more local, Indian sets! A fort, or it would be more accurate to call it the entrance to a fort.

fake fort

Chikatpally police station, although the set was dismantled to some extent, it was worth a shot :)

Chikatpally Police Station

A fake airport, looks like what it may have looked like 10 or 20 yrs ago. Completely outdated.

fake airport set

Inside the airplane set, look at the number of tourists!

airplane set

One of the several palace sets, lit up at night.

palace set

Giant creepy statues that line some of the pavements.

statues at night

Found Art: Entrance/Door

There are a lot of old Tamil and French houses in Pondicherry. Some of the houses have an interesting fusion of Tamil and french architecture. For example, one house I had lived in for about two weeks when I first landed up in Pondy has a ground floor in Tamil style, with a large central courtyard et al, and the first floor in French style with a ballroom to entertain French guests. It was owned by an Indian beurocrat in the days when Pondy was a French Colony. A lot of these houses are in the prime areas right next to the beach. They are taken up and redone as guesthouses and cafe's and restaurants, and they flourish because of all the tourists coming in, or at least, I think they flourish. Anyway, this is a photograph of one such place. This beautiful house has been bought up by a kitchen company!

It was weird, we were walking by and from the outside, we thought it was probably a cafe so we walked in. Instead, its been converted into a store to sell kitchen appliances. It was strange and uncomfortable for some reason, the mismatch between the old house and the commercial kitchen company.

Entrance Gate

Detail: A beautiful door knob at the entrance -

Door Knob

Tamil and French Fusion Architecture

I lived all alone in this old Tamil house for about two weeks while I was looking out for an apartment. Everyone told me it was haunted and all that, but I didn't have any scary experiences (what a surprise ^_^). The house itself was old, old and beautiful. The current owner told me an interesting story about the house.  Less than a hundred years ago it was owned by a hi-flying Tamil bureaucrat when Pondicherry was still a French Colony. According to an old cook who has worked in the house for more than sixty years, the name of the previous owner was Ramaswami Chettiyar, his daughters name was Rani and his wife's name was Maragadham. He built the ground floor in traditional Tamil style, with a courtyard and everything, while the first floor is built in French style, with chandeliers, high ceilings and a huge ballroom to entertain French guests. I lived on the first floor, but most of the rooms were closed off. Large parts of the house have been broken down over time to give space for roads and neighbours, only the smaller parts of it remain, and even those are badly maintained. That's probably why some people find it scary.

Main Room


My favourite part of the place; The bathroom door is completely stained glass:

Stained Glass Bathroom Door

mirror-detail Detail of the giant mirrors on both sides of the drawing room.

The stained glass windows really add to the overall effect, and conflict nicely with the traditional, and brightly painted carved wood and absence of glass on the ground floor:

courtyard tamil house

Only some of painted details remain, but these wooden columns were completely painted before falling into disrepair. Unfortunately, this part of the house has also not been maintained.

Here you can see an area where the bright colours are still visible and not completely faded:

Detail Tamil House

Related Posts:

> More about Pondicherry

> Architecture in Pondicherry

Lucknow Food: Paan and Kulfi

The meal is important, but the right way to end your large satisfying meal in Lucknow is vital. You could do paan, or kulfi, or both, depending on how much you can consume. The paan is good, of course, paan is usually good in most parts of India, but what was special here was the beautiful way it was decorated and the cost (cheap compared to Mumbai). Though I only had the sweet paan with supari, not the bitter ones that some people prefer. I can't chew tobacco - *yech* Decorated paan Lucknow

Detail of Paan Lucknow

Kulfi! Our taxi driver recommended this place, which was really hard to find, so I can't really give directions, but I can say with confidence that its walking distance from the famous Tundey Kababi.

The sign below says Full Box - 40Rs, Half Box - 20 Rs:

kulfi signage

The famous kulfi place uses small round tins to serve the Kulfi, which are then washed and re-used when a new batch is set. This is a photograph of the tins getting collected before being sent off for refilling:

Kulfi tins getting recycled at Lucknow

Food: Tundey Kababs in Lucknow