A Very Hindu Valentine (Business and Sickness)

While my wife’s guts and mine recover from our trip to India, I must leave those who follow this silly blog with quite a cute story regarding a completely different part of India’s business culture with which neither of us were aware.  My wife, Britt, and I went to India for two specific reasons.  She went for business, and I went to get sick.  I’ve already documented my sickness, so let’s go for some funny business.  Traditionally, in the United States, although many people ignore this, relationships within the place of employment are frowned upon by the Human Resource Department (usually ran by a robot) and cherished by those who love good gossip.  Generally, it’s just not a great idea.  This is what made India so interesting this time around.

Britt’s first day of working in Bangalore, India brought a few surprises.  With much disbelief, just prior to entering the 9th floor office, she was notified this office required a dress code since it was the most Holy of Commercialized Days:  Valentines Day!

I’m not joking AT ALL.  Following is the dress code for this work day.  These are only color dress codes representing ones love status:

Pink:  you are looking for love

Red:  you are in love

Yellow: you are looking for opposite sex friendship in the work place

Orange: It’s complicated

She had a quick response to the man chaperoning her to this new office:  “Seriously?”

“Oh yes, yes.”

Now, of course, my wife, not knowing about any of this, was wearing the loudest and prettiest pink blouse in the room, meaning she was definitely looking for love in all the wrong places.  They took this wildly seriously.  Showered with flowers, she was THEN (this is after flying 22 hours for a “serious” business trip) called upon to be the master, or mistress of ceremonies ending the day.  This required her to name all of the couples who had matched up on this day.  Additionally, some were dedicating love songs to their co-working matches made in India.  Ultimately, Britt informed me they didn’t do a lick of work.  Suspended in disbelief, she could only relate by thinking of those second grade Valentine’s days when your desk was littered with cards from secret idiots.  It was just too cute for her to be mad.  When we were youngsters at school on this day, parents would bring cookies, teachers and janitors would be pissed about the party atmosphere, and absolutely no work would get accomplished.  This was quite similar to what my wife witnessed on that day.

Returning to the hotel room two hours late, and after she had previously informed me, via e-mail, of this sacred dress code, I could only assume she had found someone new to love.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  She was merely forced to be the judge and jury of the office decoration campaign.  Someone was to be honored for how well they decorated their cubicle.  (I’m not shitting any of you)  I believe there were eighty cubicles to be judged.

It made my day in the hotel room feel much more simple and boring.  All I was required to do was crap and puke.  I’m no stranger to either.

By the way, she noticed I was accidentally wearing a red t-shirt on that day.  It was actually a crimson shirt representing Washington State University, meaning:

Just wait until next year.



What Day is This?

Roaming the streets of India can sometimes be a bit unnerving.  It can also be funny.  White guys become confused with the time and days in India.  We don’t know if it’s Hare Christmas, Easter, or Dinner Time….(that’s my favorite holiday).  I asked a wonderfully nice Hindu, “What day is this?”  Her response.  “Yesterday”.  I actually have this on film.  Who’s the idiot in this country?

Looking for my wife one day, I asked what street I was on.  The response was “yes”.  I felt compelled to ask another question.  “Where am I”?  Response:  “yes”.  They speak the English language, but they don’t hear the English language.  Neither do I.

I don’t blame them.

Stop Looking at Me (a trip to the zoo)

Walking through the streets of India, I believe the white man is recognized as someone going to the zoo.  It’s sad.  Everywhere we go, we wish to fit in.  I do enjoy experiencing anything new, but sometimes, you get that strange feeling you are not wanted.  You laugh too much.  Your hat and jeans make you look pretentious and borderline offensive, your hair is dirty blonde, you walk on the wrong side of the dirt, and you ask too many questions.  This is when you should know it’s time to leave the party.  At the zoo, I believe the animals appreciate your presence and affection for about five minutes, then wish you to leave.  Quite understandable.

In India, when anyone of our color shows up, we are initially a novelty item.  One of those trinkets you purchase for three dollars and seventy three cents, only to enjoy it for about ten minutes.  Then you get tired of it and send it to someone in another part of the planet so they can get tired of it too.  Nevertheless, it’s out of your sight and quietly out of your mind.

Colors, pictures, smells, sounds and sights resonate through our television and texting senses.  We forget touch.  That’s when it becomes scary.  If you see an animal on television, you think it’s cute.  When you touch one at the zoo,  sometimes, they get a bit agitated.  And, they should.  We are trespassing on their property.  We are invading their space.  It seems fun for about two hours, but you sense when it’s time to leave or retreat to the hotel.

Visiting a developing country is not always fun and games.  I look at people and smile.  Sometimes, they smile back, but other times they look at me with distain, wishing for me to leave.   That’s why I’m not the one going to the zoo.  Rather, I’m the one in the zoo.  The stares consume you.

Initially, I thought I was the one going to the zoo in India.  I was peering, taking pictures, using a camera in disbelief, ………..and then I noticed I wasn’t at the zoo, I was in the zoo.  I was the one maintaining the funny voice making them laugh at me.  I was the one wearing funny clothes making them chuckle.  I was the one they wanted to take a flight, back to where I belong.

It’s time to go home.


India Reality

Britt and I have both witnessed and observed such a wide variety of culture in India that, sometimes, the heart gets dizzy and outweighs the brain.  This is our last day in Chennai, and we are headed for London.  Maggie, one of my sick, I mean six sisters, would be loving to see the Royal Wedding. I won’t. She will also appreciate, I think, and as a practicing and well respected nurse, the difference between witnessing and observing.

Witnessing and observing are wildly different concepts.  We witness children playing in dirt and feel sorry for them.  We observe the look beyond their eyes and know they are, for some unfathomable reason, happy.

Sadly,here, the adult males don’t take too handsomely to white intruders.   During this stay, I guess I always had children to protect me.  This morning, I was saying my last goodbyes, or high fives to my cricket friends, when they started yelling, “go go go!”  I had my wallet in my pocket and was taking one last picture of my friends when several men approached me with disdain in their eyes.  Fortunately, I am much better at running than cricket.

You witness people participating in sports, their work, everyday life, but you observe their behavior while looking into their eyes.  It’s the first time I’ve been scared in India.  Unfortunately, the adult males, even with smiles and howdy doo’s on their faces don’t care for the white man.  I observed it from the very beginning, and tried to sway their attitude, but it’s hard to do that to a billion people.

Many of the adult males didn’t appreciate my laughter and smiles.  I could understand that and even reserved it when walking the streets.  However, I couldn’t contain it when playing with those children.

All they could do was witness me.  If they looked beyond my eyes, they would stop and say, “okay, this is a mere idiot just having fun in a country he knows nothing about.  Let’s not steal from him or kill him.”

I’m not dead, just still learning,


Disconnected in India

Gannon’s Blog, 2 thousand and something:

Decided to take a walk and get water and a sandwich.

Elevator was out of commission.

Chose to take the fire exit.

Alarm went off….not kidding.

Ran away from security who didn’t recognize me.

Happy ending:  Found water

This just gets better each day.

How are you?

(The power goes off 8 or 9 times a day here in India, therefore I am commonly disconnected from any network system . For those of you who are following this site, I am doing my best to keep it updated, but this hotel restricts me from certain days of usage)

Still alive,

Ben and Britt

Indiana Prose

My nephew, Pat, remarked upon my India blog imagining me as Indiana Jones.  Interestingly, it’s a keen observation, aside from a few details.  Instead of wearing a fedora, I adorn myself with an Adidas cap.  Rather than utilizing boots, I run from cars and motorcycles with cheap fabric tennis shoes.  I don’t have a whip, just a leather belt to keep my pants up, and if necessary, use it to fend off the monkeys which smile at me just prior to attacking.

Doctor Jones and I do have one thing in common.  We are both heroes.  Indiana discovered the Ark of the Covenant, Crystal Skulls,  sacred stones, Christ’s Chalice and Jewish Directors.  Although not accomplishing any of those tasks, my heroic capacity supersedes Indiana on one level.  I never witnessed him, NOT ONCE, cross a street in India.  If you recall the 80’s video game Frogger, my wife and I are living it on an hourly basis.  Dodging cars, rickshaws, buses, motor bikes and Hare Krishnas while holding my wife’s hand detonates everything Indiana Jones did for fictional society.

Keep us in your prayers.

Benmeat Josniffafish Gannonjob (That’s my new Indian name)

India part 3…I think

Without trying to be funny, Britt and I are witnessing the evolution of man, woman, and culture here in India.  This country is simply Harlem without the vim and vigor.  They just toss in a few Temples and Palaces here and there like salt and pepper and expect you to say “ahhh”.

On the way to the Iskon Temple this morning, I stopped by a terrifying amusement park.  It is called, “Taxi Drivers, Motorcycles, Pedestrians and You can’t Take a Picture Land”.  Fortunately, no one carries guns in Bangalore, or I would have a cap popped in my ass like the ending of Butch and Sundance or the Godfather.

While attempting to catch a picture for anyone who cares, whistles would blare, Temples would shake, and Hare Krishna would slap me across the face.  It was a lot like growing up with 12 older siblings.

The Temple was glorious.  Prior to witnessing the Temple without my shoes, which my cab driver forced me to leave in the car, the one hour of chanting as the only white person being stared at in this line was a bit unnerving.  The line to enter the Temple was just like waiting for an extremely depressing Disneyland ride.  It would be called, “Bare Feet and the Wild Walk.” Yet, the five minutes of observing the Temple and almost being arrested for taking a picture within was well worth it.

Being accused of demoralizing India from some of my friends and enemies, I wish to say a few words.  The people here are great; I respect their culture, some of their attitudes, and most of their driving skills. Further respect should be paid to the magnificent country of India. If I had it, I’d dispose of a Slumdog Billion dollars not to have to drive a car in this beautiful nation.  I would have perished the first day if I had done so.


India Part 2 : Electric Boogaloo

The greatest thing about being in India is not being able to watch the Seattle Mariners lose.  The second item I love about India is that they find it pretentious when Americans tip them.  Therefore, if you witnessed my previous blog, I am the most pretentious human staying in India.

My wife, Britt, and I strolled about the streets last night tripping amongst the rubble.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly for several reasons.  Each person seems to be extremely nice, the weather is far more attractive than Seattle, and we were not hit by a car or motorcycle.  Far more dangerous is yours truly.  I must learn, much like driving on the left side of the road, that it is appropriate and courteous to walk on the left side of anything.  I’ve bumped into more Indians than Custer.

I have no idea what time it is or what day it is.  Most of the people who read my drivel are probably asleep.  I’m now off to find some monkeys even though I’ve been told they are wonderfully dangerous.  If I don’t leave an additional India blog, you may assume I am in a hospital in Hong Kong as they do not have terrific health care here.


India Part I: City of Boiled Beans

Greetings and palpitations from Bangalore, India. This literally means “city of boiled beans”.  I am not joking about that one.  After 23 hours on a plane, (I had the Jimmy Leg for at least 20 of those hours), Britt and I are in our 5 star hotel which is the equivalent to a Fife Econo Lodge. Perhaps the range has elevated to 20 stars in this fifth world country.

We’ve been here 14 hours and I already despise curry.  My shoes, socks, shirt, pants, pillow, and Britt’s hair are all infested with the smell of curry.  I’d rather be in Russia where people don’t smile.  It honestly reminds me of the Bronx Ghetto area, with the exception that people who steal from you maintain a bright smile on their faces.  I was told not to wear my wedding ring because I may get my finger chopped off.  If any of you are willing to visit during this two week stay, I would be wildly grateful.

Honestly, I feel very sorry for these people.  I have been tipping 100 Rupees to each employee in the hotel (that means two dollars to you and me).

I hope all of you are well and I can eat a cow in two weeks with one of you.


P.S.  They claim English to be their second language.  I don’t understand one word.