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Meet Pedro

Special dedication to my best friend who had shocked my Indian girl friends in Delhi by commenting appreciatingly the buttocks of the rickshaw cyclist and the figure of the plumber! In India, it is like there was a mass of invisible (but very useful) people who stick to their jobs  and with whom you exchange a minimum of words because anyway (very realistically though also a bit sad and hard to admit for a French) you have nothing in common...

I met Pedro not long after moving in in my new flat in Mumbai...            
Because it didn't take long for my water-heater to blow up... Obviously.
Now that I'm experienced in this type of house catastrophes (this one can easily be put into perspective in a city where the average temperature is 30 degrees all through the year), I didn't panic one bit and simply went down to the first hardware shop to ask for a plumber.               

And here came Pedro. Tall, nice pecs, dark eyes (stressed by the khol underlining), the bad boy (Indian style).

And Pedro was taking all kind of poses, perched on my toilet to reach the heater and I couldn't help thinking of the gardener in Desperate Housewives!!       

When he left, my new plumber recommended I call him for anything else I may need. Anything?? I see you coming... No no I was just wondering what else I could need him for except for heaters bursting or pipe blockage (water pipe that is)... I must have looked puzzled because he then suggested "carpenter, fixing painting, electricity, anything". The magic plumber! 

And this proved very useful as he did drill the wall to put up shelves and frames. He also found the carpenter to fix my cupboard (a smart plumber that one isn't he? He knows his limits!). He fixed a curtain rod and did other things that you are not allowed to do yourself here. Because it is cheaper to get someone to do it than buying a drilling machine or any other tool. Also because it is better and faster done. And it provides money to someone who needs it! So why take the pain to do it yourself I ask??     

Pedro comes running whenever I call and I like this because I have zero patience when it comes to putting up a shelf. Once I realise I need the shelf up, I need it immediately. And he also gets others (real carpenters or electricians) to come immediately! And since he wants to show off his English he even tells them on the phone the job is for a "foreigner" - to translate as "hurry up, there are easy bucks to make here"... And I don't even mind!!
Take the other day for instance. Pedro overcharged me (I estimate at triple the normal price) and I was too tired (and relieved the job was done) to discuss so I hand over the notes with a face saying clearly "I know you are fucking me man!". And guess what, he gave me a hundred back!! Sometime I feel I could find faith in humanity again...

And now meet Pedro!

India,Pedro,Sameer,Desperate Housewives,hardware,fixing

     I wanted to take a picture when he was posing drilling the wall - the noise would have covered the click - but I didn't dare so I stole his whatsap picture. You wish you had a Pedro don't you??!!         

By the way his real name is Sameer...
He got that nickname from my bro. Pedro/John Rowland, Plumber/Gardener, India/USA Same same but different!       


Learning to enjoy a cup of chai in a dhaba

I can proudly say that my dad has now become an expert as a tourist travelling the less travelled roads of India (which means going to amazing hotels which are empty because difficult to access, being the only foreigners in the trains etc.). And here is the story that allows me to say that… 

The other day my father was having a conversation with a fellow tourist, a French woman in her fifties, visiting India because her daughter was doing an internship here. Otherwise she would have never come, she told us with honesty; not her cup of chai, India… 


So my dad wants to test her “touristittude” and goes: 

- Have you tried chai (the local beverage made of milk, sugar, and a bit of tea (and cardamom and ginger))? 

- Yes, yes. 

- But have you tried the real one? Like the one you drink on the side of the road? 

- Yes, yes, of course! 

- (My sceptical dad insists:) In the dhabas, these small dirty places serving dishes, authentic, tasty and cheap but prepared with complete despise for any hygienic rule? Are you sure? 

- Yes, yes!! 

- And did you pay more than 15 rupees for your chai? 

- 15 rupees?? Of course we paid more!! Much more even! 

- Ah! I knew it!! You didn't go to a dhaba!! 


I sense a trauma here… 


 think my parents will never forget the day I threw a fit in Rajasthan because we had to pay 150 rupees for a watery chai in a tourist hotel by the side of the road!! After that our driver only took us to the shadiest places, where you get the best chai! On top of this, if there is one safe thing to have in India, it is the chai, boiled and boiled again… 


And here is what happens when foreigners go get a chai in a dhaba in a small town of Madhya Pradesh (they are fixed like if they were coming straight from Saturn): 

India,Madhya Oradesh,chai,tea,dhaba

And here is what the dhaba down my building in Mumbai looks like:


india,madhya oradesh,chai,tea,dhaba




Imli-ji in Madhya Pradesh - Part 3

To conclude, what made our trip in quite untraveled Madhya Pradesh – who has heard of it? – very pleasant is that we discovered I could actually speak Hindi! 

I started by throwing in a few words to the herd of rickshaw wallahs jumping on us at Gwalior train station. Till there nothing too unusual… But then in the car, while the driver was chatting restlessly to impress us with his tourist guide skills, both my parents, in turn, told me one: “I don’t know what is happening I understand less and less English?” and the other: “They really have a strong accent in Madhya Pradesh don’t they? I don’t understand a word he says.” The driver had been going on and on in Hindi and I had been ‘ha-ha-ing” all along to encourage him! So here I was, able to kind of understand Hindi!! (With the valuable help of the English words sliding in here and there ;) ) 


And guess what? We had a very chatty driver the day we spent 10 hours in the car… Ah, dear Ravi, who hated Muslims and truck drivers, and who almost threw us in a river. He kept calling “Imli-ji” (“ji” being a mark of respect) to make sure he had my attention.

The ultimate was the lesson I got on how I should hurry up with my marriage and kid plans because if I waited more the age gap would be too big and all. My Hindi was not good enough to explain that in my case I can’t first fix a date and then look for a husband to fit in the plan… 


On a more serious note, throwing in some Hindi with everybody opened a lot of doors and got me a lot of nice smile!!  


Great trip!