You are involved in an illegal booze raid on the lunchtime restaurant by the police
You get to pogo (dance) at someone’s wedding on the street and they film you
You are on the lookout for red monkeys stealing your lunch
Stray dogs are sniffy about Waitrose flapjack
You write your own order for lunch for the waiter to hand to the kitchen
You are not just being stared at, your quiet (just being there) presence is making a scene
You hang out of a train door in a devil-may-care stylee only to find about a hundred other folks are doing it too
When you know where you are going in a new town and the rickshaw/taxi driver doesn’t*
It takes an hour. Whatever it is.
When it smells so strong that you’ll never forget it
When bad 80s fashion is a look they are rocking
When WiFi costs at expensive hotels and is free at cafes*
You get off the train at Nowheresville at midnight for a cheeky pee in the bushes only to find half of the passengers had the same idea
When a casual walk is something you take alongside your departing train before hopping on
When Black Kites flock by the score at dusk on the thermals above the city
When a cow traffic jam is a distinct possibility in the middle of a city
When your concerned – about what?! – Mother says “oooh, don’t get the camera out now” just as a train of camels go by
When the taxi is held together by karma*
When in a city of 11 million souls you meet the same local guy twice (and not on the tourist trail).
When you go from unbearable poverty to bling-laden conspicuous consumption in ten steps
When a cemetery becomes a tourist attraction just for being an auld Kolkata cemetery
When your vehicle horn is used like a nudge/bark/ahem/Oi!/aaaaaagh/hello
Nought to horn at Kolkata traffic lights is faster than particles accelerated at the Hadron Collider
When they’ve heard of Swansea (because we’re in the Premier League. He was an Austrian.)
When everyone asks if you like Indian food and you explain – patiently – that you eat it all the time
When simply heading out of the door requires a deep breath
When it’s covered in dirt and never EVER been cleaned. Ever. Things have been MADE dirty, no other explanation: that factory finish default setting is “grubby”. (Aside from new cars where it’s ” sparkling AND dented”.)
When you laugh with joy and weep through frustration in quick succession
When each train journey involves food sharing, philosophy and smells of wee*
When hustle and bustle just doesn’t cover it
When your normal isn’t the same as their normal
When you laugh at a gag, the locals laugh. Whereas the Americans wouldn’t. We are very closely aligned in humour, our Indian cousins.
One soaping in the shower isn’t enough. Neither is two.
When you’re exhausted, elated, moved, puzzled, befuddled all at once. You sit there, blinking.