Taj Mahal

A New Home: Oct. 30th
There’s an old saying that goes something like "In heaven you would have a German mechanic, a French cook, a Japanese wife, and an American salary; in hell you would a Japanese salary, an English cook, an Italian mechanic, and an American wife". In heaven you would have an Indian driver like our Jude. In the Raj days, I read that a British soldier knew when to wake up in the morning because he realized that his face had been just freshly shaved. All this optimism comes from having moved into our house in Indiranagar. We have music — glorious music, Mozart, Gershwin, the Grateful Dead, Ella F. We have power — praised be the potentates of Indiranagar, whose administrative power keeps electricity flowing to this neighborhood for at least 8 hours a day. We have frangipani blossoms, that wonderful perfume so unique to India. We have a gecko lizard that lives in our living room and eats mosquitoes and the occasional cockroach. We have named our new friend Cucharacha — we hope Cucharacha grows from 4" to 10" and lives a long and healthy life. Sue and I are happy; happy for clean water available from the water purifier, because we have power; happy for clean air , because we are no longer in a mildewy place; happy for the beautiful garden and peaceful surroundings, because we are no longer in an apartment building in downtown. In short, we are happy to have some of the psychological comforts of home. Tomorrow we start living — Sue will buy basic necessities (toilet paper at a buck a roll, and Pepsi). The day after I hope to get some cheap cane chairs and the maid comes to wash down the entire house. Yahoo!
We were supposed to meet our landlord Ravi’s carpenter today at 12. In typical Indian fashion, he didn’t show up at 12:00. We waited till 1:00, and then I went back to work. It turned out he was there at 11:00, and then at 2:00. The number of hours I have wasted — 10 daylight hours — just trying to meet a carpenter to get my desk built. Of course, I can’t buy a desk off the shelf, because they don’t exist. Graham has a gorgeous desk, built of Indian mahogany, which looks like a good Georgian reproduction. It cost him $900, and was built by a carpenter in New Delhi. The disadvantage is it took 9 months to make and get delivered to Bangalore.
It is an article of faith, true religious faith, that your destiny is unchangeable in India. If you are born a lower caste, you will be a lower caste your entire life — why fight it. If you have enough for the next meal, why earn more, why work harder? Ravi told me an apocryphal story about Indian productivity today. He knew this efficiency expert from the UN who was sent to India to do a study about increasing productivity in the Indian work force. The efficiency consultant is interviewing a government clerk, who has a large stack of forms on his desk awaiting processing. Instead of working, the clerk is enjoying a long, leisurely three-hour lunch break.
"So why not make your work break shorter, and finish the paperwork?" asks the consultant.

"What would that do for me sir?" .

"Well you might get more done!".

"And how would that help me?" asks the puzzled clerk.

"Well you would get a promotion because you would become more efficient."

"And what would a promotion give me bhai "? (bhai means brother, in the same sense that Russians use comrade)

The consultant is now puzzled. "Well with a promotion, you’d get more money!"

" But what would I do with the money?"

"You could save it, and retire earlier, and relax.".

"Ah...", says the clerk, "but bhai, I am relaxing now."