Watermelons kill


by Rohin
24th June, 2006 at 11:17 pm    

Seeing as it’s the weekend, I figured you might enjoy a light-hearted post. Yesterday I was forwarded the email below, from a friend who works at an investment bank in London. The email is written by a colleague, about her recent trip to India, and is sent to a male friend thinking of taking a trip there. The author is American.

Hey *******,

Hope you are well. India was a wonderful place, I truly enjoyed it and do hope to go back. I was in the southwest, in a province called Kerala… which is unlike most of India b/c it’s pretty much split between Muslims, Hindus, and Christians (nowhere else in India are there Christians). The major city I was in was Kochin.

Some things to take into account… every part of India is different, it’s a huge country and my experience is quite unlike those of my friends who have been to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Dehli. Those 3 major cities are considered cosmopolitan, but they are still very overcrowded with rampant homelessness and disease. You can not drink the water anywhere in India as a Westerner and you will never be able to, which I thought was interesting. This then means you are on constant alert for washing dishes with bottled water, not accepting fruits such as watermelon since they are mostly water and will make you ill, and eating salad… You can also still get malaria and other diseases that aren’t in the western world. The monsoon season is also pretty harsh in terms of weather and they speak 100s of languages… so it would be tough to learn the native tongue wherever you end up. You will be stared at as a Westerner and possibly targeted for crime… although less since you are a man. The north is Muslim, the south is Hindu… so being an American right now in the north is a bit touchy. The North is where the Taj Mahal, etc… are and is more touristy. Public transportation is hot and CROWDED. If you think the tube is bad in the morning… well, people in India will literally hang off the back of a bus by their arms to try and stay on!!! It’s a very differnet culture though… nothing is organized, nothing is put together… I think I would get frustrated b/c from my American upbringing things they do sometimes don’t make sense (i.e. no one queues, they just mob places).

Ok, now the positives… When it’s no the rainy season, it’s beautiful- lush, green, fruits like bananas and mangos grow wild everywhere (and you can eat those, rule usually is, if it has a peel, you can eat it… i.e. bananas, papayas, etc…). There are gorgeous temples and skylines. The ocean is fantastic (although polluted so don’t swim in it). Your money is worth SO much there, so if you have savings you will feel like a rich man. Most people there do love Americans, even Muslims. You could obviously travel easily, although not in the nice style we are used to here with clean trains and planes.
Anyway, so that’s that… sorry for a novel, but I really did love it there and I want to go back… I would def vacation there for a month or two. Let me know what you find out/ get out there though… I have a huge Lonely Planet book on India.

Have a great day,
Christy


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  1. Vikrant — on 25th June, 2006 at 10:51 am  

    The north is Muslim, the south is Hindu… so being an American right now in the north is a bit touchy.

    Hahahaha… but then again she can be forgiven for sheis american!

  2. mirax — on 25th June, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    >>not accepting fruits such as watermelon since they are mostly water and will make you ill,

    This is classic! Stupid or what!

  3. Lady Madonna — on 25th June, 2006 at 3:06 pm  

    Actually mirax et al its not as stupid as you think.

    Standard practice is to puncture the outer ‘shell’ of the watermelon and submerge it into water. That water then absorbs through those punctures into the watermelon giving it a much more succulent / juicier appearenace when it comes to selling it. That water can carry any number of diseases and bactaria – i.e. malaria.

    The salad comment probably comes from the fact that the salad is washed in the same water.

    Which is why many people will ask for salads etc to be washed in bottled water. Also, when buying bottled water in restuarant etc its always good practice to actually break the seal on the top yourself.

    The only problem with the above transcript is that this hasn’t been explained very well. So yes, watermelons can kill!

  4. Rohin — on 25th June, 2006 at 3:10 pm  

    My favourite bits are:

    “I would get frustrated b/c from my American upbringing things they do sometimes don’t make sense

    and

    “You can not drink the water anywhere in India as a Westerner and you will never be able to”

    Never, ever. EVER.

  5. Lady Madonna — on 25th June, 2006 at 3:15 pm  

    Well Rohin – they probably don’t make sense to someone who goes from one culture to another one, both of which are on the extreme ends of a scale.

    For some reason I get the feeling no-one will want to focus on the very first line “…Hope you are well. India was a wonderful place, I truly enjoyed it and do hope to go back…”.

  6. Rohin — on 25th June, 2006 at 3:28 pm  

    Lady Madonna, I was making fun of her grammar in the first quote, not the fact she said it doesn’t make sense. Although I think it’s sweet you’ve come to Christy’s defence, good for you.

  7. Lady Madonna — on 25th June, 2006 at 3:39 pm  

    No – not defence (you sound so tetchy in your last comment!), I was just trying to explain a couple of the things in the email regarding watermelons and water for those that might not know! From the title of your post it sounds like you didnt know that the practice I’ve explained above actually happens.

    I see now – you were poking fun at her grammer! I noticed the bad grammer too but chose to look past it, as it’s obviously a personal e-mail sent from one friend to another (before being forwarded onto you). If the emails that I send to friends on the fly are anything to go by her grammer is still pretty good!.

    Has the ‘current affairs for a progressive generation’ forum became a place where an email swapped between friends is critiqued for it’s grammer? That’s not even light hearted!

  8. sonia — on 25th June, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

    “nowhere else in India are there Christians” – :-) Right i’m sure the Goans are very pleased to hear that! does christy know her email has been posted up here?

    Anyway hardly surprising – from a ‘western’ point of view it is rather maddening being in india or the subcontinent – nothing gets ‘done’– you just have to be patient!! and that’s quite difficult for lots of people. it’s a whole different mindset. most people who haven’t been brought up there ( and i include asians here too!) think pretty much the same thing.

    i personally find the chaos interesting and can give myself up to it, but some of my sisters can’t and have a terrible time when they’re in the sub-continent. whereas i love riding on the rickshaws recklessly my sisters have a fit and will only use the car. it all depends. i’m sure if we heard from hippies who love india we’d get a different perspective.

  9. Lady Madonna — on 25th June, 2006 at 4:53 pm  

    ‘…does christy know her email has been posted up here?…’ Oh dear! Has a private email been made public for people to make (unnecessary) fun of without the persons knowledge?…

    Sonia – I agree, I enjoy going over to India and ‘giving in’ to the way of life over there. I don’t take any of the expectations I have over here (UK) in regards to service, variety etc etc. It certainly sounds like the person who wrote the email had a great time (and had their eyes opened) – considering the negatives its great that they want to go back!

    I tend to find that people who go over there and see how hard it can be, come back and appreciate how easy the things we take for granted are!

  10. mirax — on 25th June, 2006 at 8:57 pm  

    Well, lady m, I truly did not know about that water trick with watermelons, guess it is not ‘standard’ practice everywhere.

  11. Lady Madonna — on 25th June, 2006 at 9:28 pm  

    Thankfully it isnt mirax!

    I was (obviously) referring to the practice in context to the emails content.

  12. fotzepolitic — on 25th June, 2006 at 10:17 pm  

    Dude, I’ve gotten food poisoning about every 3 months for 3 years in London. It’s like clockwork. Violent, vomiting nastiness. I’d only had it once in 27 years before moving here, so I am a firm believer in someone never becoming acculturated to another country’s native germs. Either that, or you people can’t freaking keep a clean kitchen. But my digestive system is obviously American. ;) heehee.

  13. Rohin — on 25th June, 2006 at 10:53 pm  

    Is ‘acculturated’ another Americanism? I quite like it. Did I give you food poisoning last week (I ask hopefully)? Well I shouldn’t be nasty, Fotzepolitic made these awesome chocolate chilli things.

  14. fotzepolitic — on 25th June, 2006 at 11:05 pm  

    Er, I just thought it was an all-around WORD. Now you’ve forced me to look it up to make sure I wasn’t speaking out of my arse:

    ac·cul·tur·a·tion
    1. The modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture.
    2. The process by which the culture of a particular society is instilled in a human from infancy onward.

    So yes, my gut is not acculturated to London food for sure. Nor is my psyche acculturated to the British way of life, come to think of it. The chocolate chili balls came from a New Mexico cookbook, with my own modifications. New Mexican cuisine being American mixed with Mexican. I’m a fan of miscegenation in all things. Now go make me an Indian pizza or something, Doc Rohin.

  15. Don — on 25th June, 2006 at 11:44 pm  

    Never put chicken in a pizza.Ever.

  16. Gaz — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:46 am  

    I have been told watermelons in India are often grown with human faeces as the fertilizer. Slightly off topic can anyone recommend where to buy a sweet watermelon in London? The Watermelons sold in the major supermarkets are tasteless and even the ones sold in the local ethnic fruit shops are relatively poor. Any watermelon recommendations?

  17. Vikrant — on 26th June, 2006 at 8:15 am  

    Umm… gaz we do keep some good watermelons at our cornershop. But we are located in Ascot tho!

  18. funkg — on 26th June, 2006 at 1:54 pm  

    a bit naive granted, but dont you just hate it when travelling around india/south east asian and you meet westerners who brag about how little money they have spent or how the barter down to the last measly ruppee, just to prove they are not tasteless and brash ‘ordinary’ tourist?

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