Translates in Tamil as “what to do?”, and is currently my greatest cultural adjustment. “What to do?” as in your computer stops working and the IT guy doesn’t know how to fix it. As in you try for 6 months to get your name added onto a bank account. As in you switch mobile networks due to bad customer service only to find out your new one doesn’t give you a signal in your house. What to do?
Here’s a recent conversation I’ve had with my new home:
India: Neil, enna achu (what happened)?
Neil: Oh nothing, I’m just stressed because of __________ (insert a too detailed explanation)
India: Oh yes, that happends. Yenna pandradhu.
Neil: What do you mean, What to do? There’s a lot I can do. I am equipped with advanced problem solving skills. I can figure this out on my own and beat this problem into submission.
India: Apdia? (Is that so?)
Neil: Yes, I am very skilled at checking off things on my to do list and vanquishing them from existence so that I can move on to other things on my list.
India: And how is that working for you?
Neil: Well, not so great right now, but I’m still fighting it.
India: Hmm, it seems to me you are just stressed and you still have your problem, right?
Neil: Well, that’s true, but at least I’m doing something, right?
India: Puriyala (I don’t understand you)
Neil: I mean it’s always better to work really hard at something even if your chances of success are miniscule. All the sports movies I ever watched taught me that.
India: Neil, how long are you planning on staying in India?
I went to pick up my business mail at this rent-a-office place. When I finally explained my purpose, the proprietor went to some hidden drawer and pulled out a mountain of mail and began to sort through it looking for my name. I would usually get annoyed, walk over, and sort through my own mail looking for my stuff. But this time, I just sat back, read more of the paper, and ordered some tea. I mean, honestly, what can you do?