19 October, 2005

"In Chennai"

This is a phrase that 'transplants' seem to use to comment on the idiosyncracies of this city. Things like little or no parking, or strange acts of other people. It seems to mean something like 'you'd only find that here' followed by 'uhhh huuhh.'

Today was an interesting day, with less structure, which felt good - but I hardly know what to do without back to back meetings. Anyway, after lunch two of my co-workers took me for some shopping, which you would think would be easy - I knew exactly what I wanted and they knew exactly where to get it - the most auspicious store in town! Oh no - nothing is too easy in India. The whole process took over an hour - here's the major points (I cannot describe the details of the transaction as there is a good chance the recipient could read this - and that would ruin the surprise):

- Drive 10 blocks (harder than one would think)
- Enter establishment and get directions to appropriate section
- Explain desired good to be purchased
- Be shown around 1 dozen goods no where near the said description
- Be led to another shop with same owner for the correct product (2 blocks)
- Walk back to the original store to complete the transaction - at this point the sales person disappears and we are left with someone who doesn't understand the details of the transaction
- A rather lengthy and seemingly excited conversation in Hindi between my two co-workers and the new salesperson which I gather had to do with price as the calculator was involved. (I had been perfectly willing to pay the marked price)
- Agreement and completion of sales order
- Packaging of product (at length)
- Payment (at length)
- Presentation of packaged good
- Packaging of receipt and packaging of packaging in a new package
- Extract self from store
- Transaction with valet to determine location of car
- Crossing the street (which is more challenging than you would think) to get to car
- Drive 10 blocks back to office.

That was a little detailed, but it seems as though things take a few more steps, and those steps take a bit more time than your average Minnesotan would be used to. Not to mention that the store was packed at two o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday. Everything is always busy here - the shops, streets, even the hotel lobby.

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