There is a certain Indian mannerism and several casual expressions that Joe has picked up on in India and effortlessly mimics while we’re here, often to the amusement of the natives. He is a natural at the subtle Indian bobble-head waggle, and he easily slips “tikka” and “ah-cha” into most discussions without notice. ‘Tikka’ essentially means, “okay, then” or “yes, okay” and “ah-cha” means “ah-ha” or “oh, I get it” (Tikka incidentally is also our favourite kind of Indian chicken dish cooked in a tandoor). He also knows how to say “shoo you old goat” and “anything is possible” in Hindi, which are both useful and humorous party tricks (e.g. for persistent rickshaw drivers and negotiations with market vendors respectively).
Along with a new expression or two, each successive trip to India also comes with at least one ‘ah-cha’ moment, as I like to call them. As in, ohhhhhhh that’s why that strange or random situation has been happening. Usually it has to do with some form of Indian bureaucratic minutia around shipping. Mercifully, it also usually eliminates at least one of many reoccurring and seemingly endless conversations in hindi which inexplicably take place after asking what to us was a simple yes or no question.
This year was no exception, with a record number of “ah-cha” moments happening while reading a book called “The Fabric of Our Lives: The Story of Fabindia,” purchased at the Fort Kochi branch of Fabindia during our first visit to the nationally famous chain. The company was conceived by an American in the 1960′s to support the Indian cottage hand loom industry by adapting their designs for a western export market. It continues to do that today as well as operate over 100 retail stores across the country. An inspiring read for me indeed.
Interestingly, however, it was the recounting of another kind of moment in the book that both the founder of Fabindia and Joe and I have shared that struck me the most. It’s a special kind of random moment that happens daily if not hourly in these parts, a moment we have dubbed the ‘WTF’ moment. Our favorite WTF moment is the day we saw a hand-cranked ferris wheel on the side of a busy road we travel every day while in Jaipur, complete with kiddies in the wheel buckets. The founder of Fabindia witnessed a similar scene in rural Rajasthan and regretted later not bringing the ferris wheel back home to Delhi. Joe and I only regretted not stopping our taxi to get a better picture.