It has been almost a whole week since I stepped into the land of the Scots. And, if I were to put it mildly and try to understate it a bit, I think I would just use the word fabulous.
The past week was what is called orientation by the brass hats, and funtime by most students.
Edinburgh is a gloriously multicultural city, and my flat seems to reflect this multiculturatism to a T. I stay with another Indian, a Pakistani, a Jordanian, a Nigerian, an Englishman, and three Chinese. And that’s quite a lot – even if I am yet to speak to the Chinese, mainly because my Chinese doesn’t pass muster.;-)
Apart from the usual free pizza lunches and orientation programmes that are the hallmark of orientation weeks everywhere, the Students’ Association at Edinburgh offers a LOT more in the form of free parties. The international student centre is what is usually at the forefront of these parties, and provide the free drinks. And usually ensure there is a good attendance of hot chicks from the continent. Phew!!
Another interesting bit I noticed over this past one week was how much people knew about India. And more interestingly, how little I knew about India.
I reproduce below snatches of a conversation I had with a Polish girl –
‘Hey, so you’re Indian! Wow, I’m really interested in India’
‘So am I’, said I, rather wittily, for one always tries to impress with the Warrier charm, ‘, though that’s probably because I’m Indian. But I’m interested in Poland too.’
‘Ah Poland is a small place – India is beautiful. Are you Hindu or muslim?’
That was an easy one. I answered it with a smile playing on my lips.
But it was not over. She continued with an even trickier one,
‘Are you shivite or vaishnavite?’
When one tries to strike a conversation with a girl, one prefers to talk of lots of things. But my religious affliation is not often among my favourite topics. Though nonplussed, I hummed and hawed non-committaly about believing in monotheism.
‘Oh wow! Have you been to Vaishno Devi?’
It was then that another Austrian chap who, also, unfortunately seemed to know a little too much about India stepped in.
‘Have you seen the widows of Varanasi?’
I knew this one! I answered with aplomb, ‘Oh! That was the story of that movie called Water. A bunch of simians from the Bajrang Dal burnt the sets down – so didn’t watch it. Did you read the script?’
The two of them looked at each other.
‘Uh…there are real widows in Varanasi’
‘There are widows everywhere. And they are often as real as you or me.’
‘No, I mean, there are widows who are prostitutes.’
I thought of talking of the parts of India I knew and said, ‘Shah Rukh Khan’s cool’
The polish girl waved it off, ‘Ahh bollywood is good, but I want to know if you speak Sanskrit!’
This was my chance. I’d sweep her off her feet with a rendition of a few choice words in Sanskrit. Even if I couldn’t remember them, I could make something up.
‘Aham Vaanar: asti – that means, I am pleased to meet you!’
‘No you just told me about your ancestry. Tvam Vanaar: aevam kukkur: asti’
‘Er…what exactly are you studying here?’, I asked, desperate to change the topic.
‘Oh, I’m doing my B.A. in Sanskrit. I wanted to study at JNU, but they didn’t give me an admit’
…… Next time, I don't pretend to be an Indian intellectual, but reveal myself for the boor I am!
P.S: I've also been awarded a Laboratory Demonstrator position to teach First Years with water in the brain how to program. Maybe it's an all-girl class!