Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 24, 2013

A few awe-inspiring facts about me

As soon as you start adjusting to a different culture, expectation is that you adapt as quickly as possible. Though the society here is quite liberal in accepting the way you are, (nobody really looks down upon you or pulls your leg) however still you find the look of “awe” in people’s faces when you say you have not done a certain thing which is so much part of them.

Here are a few such “awe-inspiring” moments that I provide to people here.

In New Zealand DIY (or do it yourself) is the culture. This means most of the things you think of outsourcing in India, here they try themselves – building a house/roof/floor/fence, painting a house, plumbing, installing most things you can etc. There are huge DIY stores around which not only sell the tools but also offer online training on subjects such as “How to paint your house?”. I of course have grown-up in apartments and the brief stint in Durgapur Steel Township has gotten me used to calling up “maintenance”. I have never ever come across a person in India who paint their own house or build their own fence. Hence, so far I have not picked up DIY at all.

We love apartments. People here cannot understand why we do so. In India, most people I have come across live in apartments rather than one-storey houses with gardens etc, so we are comfortable with that. However, a lot of people wonder how can we live inside an apartment especially when we have a little boy with us? So far, we ignore this as we are very comfortable in where we live.

We ride inter-city buses to travel places rather than rent a car (or camper). We do that because it is convenient being driven and we enjoy looking outside the window. Most locals drive long distances and hardly ever bus.

I have never done skiing, surfed the sea, climbed a “real” mountain, gone fishing, been to a costume party, and done a bungee or sky-diving. Once for our yearly Christmas party, our team went for a tree adventure . It is anybody’s guess what did I do, after finishing one leg of climbing. After that day people have slowly gotten used to the fact that I am not the best when it comes to daredevil acts of courage. I have a dodgy knee for Christ’s sake!

When on vacation, I don’t like cooking our own meal and eating it. Come on, when you are on vacation, something got to be different isn’t it? I eat out.

We sleep really late and have supper (rather than an early evening dinner). Even our little boy sleeps quite late (not at 6:30 pm which usually the kiwi kids do!).

I find all above quite amusing (as others do).

By the way, I have never dared to tell people here that in India, people bathe in sea rather than swim as it is here. (“In Bangla – chol, samudre snan kore ashii!)



  1. Good to hear about so many things you do (or don’t) that arouse awe in your friends and neighbours out there, Tanmoy. However, there are a few points I’d like to make: 1) It’s not so much about ‘loving’ to live in apartments as the fact that most Indians, in cities at least, can’t afford detached houses (leave alone gardens) any more; 2) DIY is not so much a matter of choice as a compulsion in most advanced countries these days, as many friends in the UK and US tell me – plumbers and painters and electricians and carpenters have gotten way too expensive – it’s the same story as with domestic help; 3) While busing is still very popular, more and more well-heeled Indians are travelling in their own cars too, and the numbers would swell much more if we had better and safer roads; 4) Cooking your own meals while on vacation may sometimes be a matter of saving money; and 5) Going to sleep so early in the evenings is something that I too have always regarded as weird.

    And yes, few Indians would go swimming out in the sea. In this connection, do look up a post I wrote years ago, titled ‘Fool in the sea’.

    Nice post. Keep writing.

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