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The difference between French & Indian photobooths?

Samourai au photomaton.jpgAnswer: the French photobooth does not tell you you look ugly!           
Let me explain... In reality, there are no photobooths in India, or only at the Visa Office of embassies. Therefore, you go to the photographer. Or at least to the shop which prints pictures in which you will find a man and a DSLR camera. The photographer, who can only be called so because of his camera. Because the cover actually makes the book. Some times.   

A few months ago, in Mumbai, I went to a tiny photo lab in a slum-y area. Very professional, the "photographer" was quite annoyed because I was wearing a white t-shirt. It would not work. Even if the sheet used as a background he had chosen was not white but gray (thus contrasting) – I really don’t understand why they do this every time, put a colored background and then photoshop the picture so that the background appears white? That day, as often, I wasn't in the mood to put up with non-senses and above all I didn't have time to go change. Checking out the small room I was in, I spotted a dark blue piece of cloth and grabbed it. And that’s how, under the flabbergasted eyes of the photographer, I wrapped myself in his dusty 'blue-starry-night’ background which really had small stars (Indians are fans of cheesy stuff) and posed!               

Last week I again needed photos. The photographer took 2-3 shots and when he proudly showed me his selection for my approval, I had a reality-check!! Double chin, acne-like red cheeks, messy hair! To be honest, I don’t really care about how I look on identity photos since they are intended for others. I therefore gave my go-ahead for the printing when his colleague came to the rescue. Seeing the selected portrait he sent his buddy away, handed me a handkerchief with a nice compliment “wipe your face, you have oily skin” (Oh hey it’s more than 48 degrees outside and I’m just sweating a bit), made some adjustments and gave me some cute pics. With hardly any photoshopping! Because be aware that in India, they won’t let go with photos where you have a wild strand of hair or a fat pimple. And usually I have both, when not worse! To tell you, once they even insisted to make my favorite Indian look fairer!    

Photoboothing in India is definitely an experience! (Especially since 20 photos will cost you less than 1.5€ :-) ).


Helen's pearls 1

I love the sense of humor of the Baby Samurai’s nanny.

For example at 6 o'clock this morning:

  • Her: Madam the lawn of the park is all wet, dogs must have peed everywhere.
  • Me: Helen...
  • Her: Oh! So it is dew then?
  • Me: …

In addition to putting me in a good mood in the morning, sometimes she makes me laugh so much.

That day I was in the pool, and Baby on the deck.

  • She: “Baby, go pee on the lawn”. Then to me: “I’ve been teaching him to pee on the lawn, instead of the pool deck. But he doesn’t really know how to make the difference between peeing and pooping”. To him: “Baby, hey you, since you seem to be pushing, trying to aim well and make caca on the floorboard so that it does not get stuck between two boards!
  • Me: What will my parents think when they come visit and my son goes on the lawn to shit!
  • Her: Don’t worry, we will tell them that the train station is too far...

 india,toilet,public defecation,shitting in public(If you don’t get the ‘joke’, the surroundings of train stations and highways as well as beaches, at least in Mumbai, are usually packed with jolly shitters in the morning.) And she said it, not me!

By the way, one day we had a debate. As she had mentioned with quite some despite all these “dirty people” who defecate in the street, I tried to defend them by pleading that more than half of the population still does not have access to toilets (source). But her, daughter of the slums herself, is convinced that it is their choice: they are the ones who don’t want to use toilets and prefer to have company while pooing.


A Samurai at the Ambassador’s cocktail party

This is quite interesting to attend this type of events at the Swiss Ambassador, in honor of the visit of a big shot of a big company. An experience to have, but not necessarily to repeat (especially after you have shone like me that night)...

First of all because at least half of the people are from the company in question, which is of little interest to you since you have no short term project to reconvert in agriculture.

Then because if you thought you could make Swiss buddies there you are a fool: there are exactly six Swiss in all the assistance... And they are not the friendliest people, they have this kind of arrogance of those who have “lived” India, while you, poor wannabe... This is how one of them asked me how long I had been here. Spontaneously I replied 2 months. You would have seen the complicit looks these guys exchanged... I preferred not to pick up. Oh well, just a bit. But I didn’t really get the admiration look I expected, more the kind of look you give to crazy people!

And above all you must be careful with what you say. Don’t do like me what. For example, when his ‘Excellency’ came to shake my hand, I was obviously not well aware of the protocol:

  • Him: Hello
  • Me: Hello
  • Him: And you are?
  • Me: Emilie
  • Him: From?
  • Me (he starts to be a little indiscreet that one!): France
  • Him: No, I mean, from which company?
  • Me: Oooops

By the way the answer to this question – answer that I really like because it always makes me laugh inside –  which is “I sell for breastpumps” does not have the most beautiful effect at the Ambassador’s party. And to go even further, since people don’t understand what the hell I am talking about, I have to fake squeak my boobs to explain. You see! So finally I positioned myself as a General Manager in the high-tech medical equipment company.

You can also avoid making the following comments:

“Ah bah if the head of legal of my company was visiting India, he would not be get to a reception like that!”

Or to imitate the German Swiss accent aloud (it sounds pretty much like this: “rrrrrggrrrrrrgrrrr”).

Or “Ah you work for this company! Yes I know them well, it’s the competitor of this one! ».

Or “If we get arrested, the Ambassador will come save us!” (especially when the Ambassador in question is right behind you)

India,swiss embassy,ambassador's cocktail partyWhen you manage to say so many non-senses without drinking, it is recommended to avoid jumping on the (Indian) wine glasses that pass back and forth. Same for the chocolate cake – it is less bad to look like an ogre than a drunk (and the risk to discredit yourself completely is less), but it’s still not very classy... (I tried to play the discreet but the cake was too good!)

I think I put on quite a (Samurai) show that night!