I came from a city where we lead a very simple life. All of a sudden when fate whisked me from Kakinada(India) to Toronto(Canada), where the life-style is much different from what I had till then, I had difficulty in adjusting myself to the new surroundings. Say it culture shock or my ignorance or anything, I made a fool out of myself . When ever I remember those situations, I just feel how funny / stupid I was. I still don't understand the rules of fine living here. But still I am not ashamed of it. I will learn things. There is a first time for anything for everyone. Instead of hiding those things, I just tell those things in a lighter way and laugh! Hope you enjoy my encounters with the "unknown"!
Effect of Sept 11 Attacks??
Taste of Racism
Fiddling with the Parking Meter!
Banking through an ABM
Confusion at Burger King
Effect of Sept 11 Attacks?? Top
This is not funny!! Few days after Terrorist Attacks on WTC towers, me and my friend went to a Wall Mart to do some shopping. There something really depressing happened. There was an escalator to the lower level of WallMart. A family with mother, father and a 5 or 6 years kid were on the escalator coming down. It is not the steps type escalator but a belt type. So, the boy was jumping and he came sooo fast down because it was slanting. In that force, he came down running and his shoe got struck in the escalator belt. So.. he and his mom were crying out for help. Me and Vinita were in the lower level. Somebody stopped the escalator. But the boy's shoe was still struck there. Actually it is his shoe but not his leg that was struck. That mother instead of removing his leg from the shoe, was pulling his leg causing more pain to the boy. He was sooo confused that he too started crying. Then again some help boy there removed his shoe and freed him from the escalator. With her cries.. we thought something awful is gonna happen. We were sooo disturbed with the recent Terrorist crimes and all and human misery.. that none of us were in fit state to go and help and take a correct step or see the problem in a proper way. Instead many of us closed eyes and ears and were making silent prayers... struggling to stop tears.
Did we became sooo vulnerable to pain and depression? What is happening? may be we are losing the ability to think rationally!
Taste of Racism Top
Canadians are broad-minded than the Americans. Because we don't find all those horror stories of Racism here in Canada as in USA. When I , my friend & her husband went to Detroit to visit a friend, we were subjected to racist humiliation.
It was late (around 12.00 midnight) and we came back to our friend's place. Behind our car.. is another car. As ours is a big car, my friend's husband took little longer to find a suitable lot to park the car. A man and a woman came out of the car behind us. While he was parking, I saw these two going towards the locked door. If we could squeeze in when they open, we need not call our friends upstairs again to open this door (I know we are not supposed to go in that way.. but since it was late night and cold outside, we looked for this short-cut). So, I thought of holding the door for them. He is twenteish.. she might be his mother or I donno who. He opened the door with his key, held the door for her to go in. I was standing right behind her to go in. When he was closing the door, I tried to hold the door from closing and was about to step in. To my horror.. he pushed the door soo hard that.. if I had stepped in.. it would have been fatal for me!
I could not understand what he is doing. But quickly left the door and jumped back. We could hear a big argument between him and that lady from outside. By now, my friends came to the door hearing my cry. Door opened again.. we were scared as we donno.. what if it is he.. to shoot us!?
It was not he.. but that lady. She opened the door, mumbled an apology.. and left. All this time.. he is using all racist insults upon us. We were soo dumb struck even to understand the reason for his out-burst. We couldn't believe he is talking about us till they slammed their door. It all happened soo quick.. absolutely there was no time for us to react.
We told our friends about this incident. They said they would complain to the building management.. but still .. I feel sooo sad when the people of this so-called civilized country behave like uncivilized idiots.
When I discussed this incident with my Canadian friends, they agreed with me. This is not a funny incident.. this is a rather depressing incident.
Fiddling with the Parking Meter! Top
Just two days back my friends and I went to a LoneStar restaurant for dinner along with our guests (Siva ,his wife & kid) who came from Chicago. The restaurant was very closeby and walkable distance . We came by walk to the restaurant where as Siva & his family came by car . They parked the car at paid parking on the road, one block away from the restaurant.
We ordered for dinner and were almost halfway through when Siva noticed that we stayed longer than expected at the restaurant.. so, he wanted to go and put some more coins in the parking meter. My friend & I offered to help . So we both went there to do just that. She fished her bag and handed me two quarters,and I started to put into the slot provided in the meter. I was under the impression that when a person inserts a coin in the slot the time would change automatically in the meter .. So, I put two coins in a row and it got stuck! The meter is a old fashioned one with outdated mechanism,.. one has to turn the nob after inserting each coin . Now I could not turn the nob or remove the 2nd coin. Both the coins were stuck inside!
We both took turns to take the coins out with our fingers and then with her hair pin.. but it was of no use. It was already late in the evening . The street was empty and dark.. what if some cop sees us fiddling with the parking meter?? Then Vini saw two kids..a boy and girl in their teens coming from a building. She asked for their help in taking out the coins from the meter. That girl happily accepted the challenge and resorted to all sort of tricks on the meter. She mentioned that her boyfriend had a special tool to do such kinds of jobs like taking out coins from slot machines, parking meter, public telephone etc., On that day unfortunately he did not bring it ,so she tried in other ways.. She dressed a bit weird.. I was not feeling comfortable with that. It was already five to ten minutes since our struggle with the parking meter . I thought we should not do any more experiments on the meter..I felt stupid.. I should have checked the meter before inserting the coins.. I told my friend that I would go and tell Siva to move the car from there.
But with the disturbing news about weird kids attacking people in dark and grabbing their cards, money, etc., I was scared to leave her alone in that dark street .Nevertheless I went to the restaurant to tell my friends about the situation and asked Siva if he could park the car in a different location. I did not wait for them to join me and I ran back to the car. To my dismay, I did not find her or those teenagers there. I looked around the parking meter, the coins had gone.. the money was deposited as I saw the time in the meter was for thirty minutes .. then where were they? Nobody was there in that street. I called her husband on his cell. He said she came back to the restaurant.
On my return, she told me that the girl took the coin out of the meter with the help of her hair-pin. She also offered to repair her distorted hair-pin. I was sooo ashamed.. for suspecting those kids. They were indeed good kids. So, the lesson I learnt was never to judge people by their appearances.
Hitler Sucks! Top
I must tell u.. I am very ignorant when it comes to history. I knew Hitler committed a lot of atrocities against Jews.. but I did not know the reason behind such heinous crimes. Last week, when I was at work.. suddenly I got a popup message from my account in Napster
I have mp3 songs of the Telugu movie 'Hitler'. For some reason, nobody is able to download songs from my system. I thought he was talking about he not being able to download the songs from that movie.. Read our conversation..
I: 'yes.. I don't know why!'
Then it occurred to me.. may be he was thinking.. that I was talking about Hitler of Germany.. I hastily typed..
He: 'You like Hitler?'
I: 'I like these songs.'
He: 'You..<some very bad words> He is a <veeery bad words>
I: 'I am just concerned about songs.. it is none of my business to care about what he does in his personal life. We must look at his works only.. right?
He: 'You Liar! You love Hitler.. You..<very bad words again>
I: 'See.. this Hitler is a film made in my mother tongue Telugu.. it is about a man who.. when angry, behaves like Hitler.'
He did not respond to me for this.. then I went to my colleague Aklilu and told him about the whole incident and said
'I don't know what he is thinking.. using all sorts of bad words..'
Aklilu asked me..
'So.. tell me Surya.. u like Hitler? or you really don't know anything about Hitler?'
I told him that I knew that he was bad.. but did not know the details. Aklilu told me that I should learn. But I asked..'why.. why should I learn about unpleasant things.. if it is any achievement or any great thing.. I will learn.. but cruel things.. why should I learn?' I asked.
He said it matters to many.. for many who suffered.. so.. I should not talk that way that I did not care.. because by saying that I am behaving in a irresponsible manner towards mankind.
Yes.. he had a point! What ever happened during the days when Hitler was alive (during the world war II) was not funny at all.. at that moment he made me realize how ignorant I was about History.
Underground parking Top
I knew about security alarms in the shops and many places beeping when ever somebody tries to steal something and runs away with it or does something wrong. I used to reside opposite to a public underground parking lot near the Finch subway station. I don't own a car. So, I did not know about the procedures at car parking lots. Many times I used to hear a big siren like alarm ringing from the parking lot and cars racing out of it. I thought may be all the people driving those cars from the parking lot were those who were racing away without paying the parking fees. I wondered why they were doing that for such a small amount! I was under this impression for almost a month. Then one day, one of my friends, Anu came to my place and we were walking past the parking lot. Again, that alarm went off. I again wondered..this time loudly.. why .. they were doing that!? 'Doing what?' - Anu asked. I told her what I was thinking. She explained me very kindly that siren is for .. pedestrians.. it's a warning that a car is coming out. So, be careful while crossing the parking entrance!
Banking through an ABM Top
When I came to Toronto, I opened my chequing account at TD Bank branch near the place where I first lived. The bank employee there eluded me patiently about how to access my account and gave me a card. We both had trouble understanding each other's accent. I was trying to keep my self cool and pretended that I understood everything. So, I did not ask her any questions or doubts regarding accessing my bank account. I only understood that I could withdraw money from my account from the Green machine and she showed me a Green machine (TD Bank's ABM - Automated Banking Machine..elsewhere known as ATM) outside. I can get money any time irrespective of bank timings! very Cool! I don't have this facility at my bank in India. So, whenever I needed money, I used to come to TD bank at Finch & Keele and get from the Green machine there. Once or twice, the door was locked. So, I always took care that I came during the bank hours! First thing..I did not know that I can open the door using my card (it was written on the door.. later I understood the meaning of the instructions on the door about how to insert the card in the slot provided in the door!). Second thing.. I did not know that I can withdraw money from any ABM.. not just from the Green machine at Keele Street TD bank! (this again was written in the instruction booklet they gave me when I opened my account which I never read!). So, I was in cold in the dark for almost 3-4 months. One day, I was at Victoria park and I needed some money. I told my students about my dilemma.. I wanted cash and , I could not go to Finch which was far away and withdraw from my account. They explained me that I could withdraw cash from the ABM at Victoria Park subway station. In fact, I could do that from any ABM! I tried to withdraw cash above $100. It refused my transaction! I tried 3-4 times in vain and then felt people waiting behind me might think that I was trying to steal money by using someone else's card. So, I aborted my attempt to withdraw cash. I was angry. I was sure I had enough funds.. then why the hell was it rejecting ? So I thought I should try at the regular Keele & Finch Green machine! But of course.. I never tried to withdraw this much from there also! I went back and told my student Nanda.. a bit complainingly.. that the machine rejected the transaction! He explained me that every bank has its own policy of putting an initial withdraw limit on the account. This is generally $100. So, I had to go to my branch and request them to upgrade my withdrawal limit. I was angry.. why.. how can they control my banking this way? I talked rudely to the banking assistant at my branch. She was very polite, checked my transaction record and did the needful.
Confusion at Burger King Top
I am a vegetarian. First time when I heard the word pepperoni at Pizza Hut, I thought it had something to do with pepper. But my friend Srinu told me in time that it means 'a highly seasoned beef and pork sausage'. I also understood that for vegetarian food, you need to tell no chicken, no meat, no sea food at almost all restaurants. I went to a Burger King joint along with my boss and another colleague. My colleagues knew that I was a vegetarian. There was a Chinese girl taking orders at the counter. I asked 'any thing vegetarian'. She asked me if I am talking about a Whopper. I thought a Whopper contains only vegetables and never cared to confirm. I nodded to her in agreement. When I got my whopper and sat with my colleagues, my boss asked me 'why did you turn into a non-vegetarian?' I replied no..why? 'Then how come you are eating meat?' he asked pointing meat in my whopper. I went to that girl and said 'I asked you for vegetarian only.' She took it from me and gave me another. This time when I opened it, I realized that she took out all the vegetables from it and retained the meat piece! I asked my colleagues ..'is my English that bad or her hearing?' My boss joked..'see..it happens when an Indian girl is talking to a Chinese girl'. I know it was my mistake not to confirm with her about the contents in the burger. It is sad that he generalized all Indians and Chinese based on our mistakes. He came with me to the counter this time and talked to her in a raised tone about her mistake. Her superior came and gave me what I ordered for exactly. Next time when I went there, she instantly knew what I wanted!
Cell Phone Top
I bought a cell phone long back. It is a sleek Motorola model. I was traveling in the subway with my new cell. I tried to call a friend using the cellphone and when I couldn't (as cells don't work in subways - I did not know this then!), I abandoned my efforts. It was a 35 minutes ride to my home . I carry a backpack to work with my books , as I read & write while traveling. That day, I was bit tired and I slept on the seat on the subway. When I came home, I looked for my cell to charge it. It was not there! I searched the regular pocket where I keep the cell and I could not find it .When I could not find it ,I was mad at myself for being careless . I called my service provider and canceled my service. I was angry.. because I did not use it even for one full day properly and I lost it (That is what I thought). I spent a lot on that cellphone.. In a rage, I went to the Future shop again and this time bought more expensive phone (hoping I will be more careful if I spend more!) Next week while going on a trip to Ottawa, I needed my backpack. So, I emptied it. Then I found that damn thing(the first cellphone) in another slot. I cursed myself for not having the common sense to call my cell number before canceling it. Now I have two cell phones.. any takers? My friends still tease me about my negligence. What I am really ashamed of is.. my suspicious nature. I was thinking all sorts of things about who ever sat beside me during that ride because I knew it was there before I slept. I learned to develop positive attitude from this incident.