Archive for July, 2010

Doin’ it for the story…

Friday, July 30th, 2010

While wandering down a random street in Hyderabad last night, my friend and I spotted what appeared to be a Church’s Chicken sign inside a nearby shopping mall. However, upon closer inspection, it wasn’t, but better:

After the initial hilarity from the visually blatant plagiarism/copyright infringement of the logo coupled with it being Texas-branded “halal” chicken, the Man v. Food rip-off challenge caught my eye. For a mere 135 Rs (~$2.93), I could take a shot at India strip mall immortality. And that’s just what I did…

Let me paint a more vivid picture of the ambience for this challenge: me, said friend, 8 Texas Chicken employees, and a security guard at the front door splitting his time between manning the metal detector and watching my attempt.

I know that you might be thinking, “You’re an idiot.” Trust me, I was thinking the same thing, but do it for the story, right?

I may have failed the challenge, but I like to think that I won in life. Naht.

Side note: It was Mexican day at my office cafeteria, a once-a-month themed cuisine day. People waited 10-15 mins for what they called “live” tacos, or essentially a taco bar where someone makes you custom creations. Custom, extremely tiny creations:

(Beside a Nexus One, for perspective)

India Trip – Day 2.5

Monday, July 26th, 2010

It’s been raining pretty regularly for the last 3 days, so the dirt roads are now flooded and filled with muddy sinkholes. India’s monsoon season gets rid of the heat and mosquitoes at the cost of muddied clothes and an added swamp-ass factor to the local aroma.

Random occurrence: While walking through a local hotel, I spotted a bootleg Tom from Tom & Jerry babysitting a handful of kids while their parents dined at the buffet. Based on how he was moving around, he either didn’t understand the kids’ Hindi-English or couldn’t see through the mask. Probably a little of both.

Random observation: While talking to locals here, they do a “bobble head” move while maintaining eye contact with you. It’s bizarre and trips me out every time. Legend has it that it’s in lieu of nodding the head. I think it’s disturbing.

Local food is a lot spicier than the US versions that I’ve sampled, which undoubtedly contributes to the stank factor. What do I know? Well, I ate some sort of deep-fried veggie snack that was abnormally spiced out, then went for a workout an hour later and noticed that my sweat smelled extra spicy.

Speaking of the local cuisine, I’ve decided not to take the Travel Channel shows as truth anymore. Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern made India street food look so colorful, delightful, and acceptably clean. In actuality, the local street food carts are filthy, sketchy, and not nearly as aesthetically pleasing. Add the fact that the servers have grimy hands and you’ll find me at the local McDonald’s for my daily chaat.

Local expats took me to Mebaz, a custom-tailored clothing store for men. I don’t normally wear dress shirts, but the salespeople managed to sell me 5 button-down shirts after throwing two-dozen spools of fabric around me. It was too tough to pass up $22 custom-tailored shirts…but we’ll see how the finished products turn out. The best part was that I got fitted after going to a gluttonous buffet lunch, so the measurements will probably be off. Icing on the cake, they also convinced me that I wanted a pair of cashmere pants–I haven’t worn a pair of “dress pants” in over 3 years. Then came the up-sell…

Sales guy: “Sir, pure silk lining for added comfort and warmth?”

Me: “Hmm…How much?”

Sales guy: “200 Rupees…[jabbing his calculator]…or $4.37 for you.”

Me: “Wow. $4.37….I dunno.”

Sales guy: “150 Rupees, sir…[jabbing his calculator]…or $3.26 for you”

Me: “[Sigh] Ok, I suppose I can spoil myself…but only because I like you.”

India Trip Documentation Attemptation – Day 1

Saturday, July 24th, 2010
Took off from SF on 7/22/10 at 5:00PM PST headed for Dubai. Aside from the fact that Emirates took 1 HOUR to get my bag from the plane to the claim belt, I had no complaints about their facilities and service. I watched five movies during the 14.5 hour flight from SF to Dubai, some proving to be a lot worse than others (Date Night, The Book of Eli, The Bounty Hunter, Up in the Air and When in Rome [don't judge me, Sarah Marshall is cute]) and slept through another two (Shutter Island and Twilight part deux). The 4-hour flight from Dubai to Hyderbad showcased Aladdin, a classic and a perfect complement to the ambiance. My plan to read some books couldn’t have gone more wrong.

Arrived in Hyderebad, India this morning at 3:00AM local time. I unsuccessfully tried to “check in” via Gowalla and Yelp. However, I successfully “checked in” using Google Latitude. Now, if I only had more than 6 friends using Latitude, we might be on to something. Might. I’ll be here for two weeks to “work.” It’s OK, I laughed, too.

Initial impression: Not nearly as hot as people warned me about.

Full disclosure: It’s pouring rain outside.

Secondary impression: I stand out because of how different I look.

Full disclosure: That happens everywhere I go.

After getting settled and taking a nap, I went on a local city tour with my assigned driver for the day, Ghikil. We cruised the muddied streets of Hyderabad in our silver Ford Fusion, dodging and dipping and dodging the motorized rickshaws, motorbikes, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians. It reminded me a lot of metro Manila, except that the streets were filled with Indians instead of Filipinos and I couldn’t understand their English very well.

Our first venture was a city-wide car tour of the various neighborhoods of the city, ranging from the old town district, to the bar scene (he just assumed I wanted to go there, go figure) and to where the Bollywood stars live. Then we hit up the legendary Charminar mosque, the trademark of the city and home to a bustling marketplace.

They charge locals 25 Rs (About $0.50) to climb to the top. They charge foreigners 100 Rs. A total rip-off in principle, but I decided to contribute to their local economy:

We later stopped by an all-marble mosque, but no cameras/phones/camera phones were allowed. I had to take my shoes off, so I ran up and down the steps in socks. It wouldn’t have been an issue, except I saw a woman with a gnarly little toe that looked like it was fighting to run away from her foot. Also, it started to pour rain while we were up top, so while running back to the car and I almost took out the people waiting in line for coconuts (the seasonal offering to the deities) at the bottom.  A picture of that would have been priceless.

On the way back to the guest house we stopped at a local bakery because I wanted to get a snack. I got mine to-go, which Ghikil didn’t expect. When I got back to the car, he was elbows deep in some grub (curried mutton and rice from what I could see and smell) that he had brought from home. After an initial awkwardness on his part, I assured him that it was OK for him to chow down while I killed time playing games on my phone. I had a chicken samosa and banana nut muffin, ef why I.

Day 1 ended with dinner at the company guest house, where a resident chef prepares dinner for expats 6 days a week (we’re spoiled). Tonight he served a version of pizza that I can’t honestly say I’ve ever had before. The dough was unbaked naan (so unnaturally soft) and the tomato sauce…wasn’t. I asked homie what it was made of, but all that I heard/understood was “beans.” Geww. Either way, I would have been OK with just one slice of the non-vegetarian pizza, but he’s a really nice guy and insisted that I try the vegetarian one…Saturdays are pretty slow for the dining hall, and it became apparent that I’d probably be their only customer that night.

Hmm, this entry was more than I bargained. If you read this, congratulations. I’m going to make any future posts more normal. Giddy up.

Checking in, it’s the tits.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp,…Gen Y can’t get enough. I checked in at the India Visa Outsourcing place the other day using the Yelp Android app (F the iphone!). It asked me for any “tips.” I wrote, “This place stinks and has no ventilation, it gave me a headache.” I wasn’t being an asshole on purpose, and I almost felt bad for posting that…until they told me that the visa pickup would be delayed an additional 1.5 hours.

These location apps “award” me virtual badges. When did getting badges suddenly become cool? No one cared about my Weblo badges while I was a cub scout. I refused to have them sewn onto my shirt because being a cub scout was enough of a reason to make fun of me. Showing proof that sucking at life was my style and ease would’ve begged for an ass-kicking. See what I did there? I took the current slang, “steez,” and I expanded it to it’s non-hip origins. Badges on these networks are like your new crop of dingleberries on your virtual farms–no one else really cares, but you’re going to tell us about them anyway.

Are the electronic bidets on robotoilets designed to be used before or after you wipe? Or, does using the bidet mean that you don’t have to wipe, and just rely on the air dryer? Lastly, why are there so many power levels for the water spray? (It’s a Japanese invention, and from what I hear [chuckle] they’re into some freaky porn, so maybe they like having a fire house blast their bottoms). These are very important questions.

I can’t eat an Oh Yeah! protein bar without thinking about Randy “The Macho Man” Savage. Slap it to a Slim Jim.

Long time no see…blame it on me…gonna drop a D

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

There are thousands of people who look back on their daily lives and legitimately believe that it’d make for a great documentary, movie, comic strip, short story, romance novel, fiction, or instruction manual. I’m no exception. I think my life is a lot more entertaining than it probably is.

I wear a red watch. It’s really red. And it’s not small, it’s relatively huge. That’s what she said. It gets me a lot of attention, probably not in a good way. Guys think I’m “peacocking,” girls think I’m stuck in the early 90s (it’s a G-Shock). I just think it’s funny to wear because, well, it’s red and huge (TWSS sigh).

My friends and I were at a concert last Friday. There was this really drunk girl dancing up on my buddy and kicking strangers. Her friend told me that the drunkard was single. Since we couldn’t hear each other amidst the racket, I text messaged my friend, “she’s single”. He responded, “so what”. My rebuttal, “smash!” His counter argument, “no”. My retaliation was to choreograph what is now known as the “Chong Smash Dance”, which I proceeded to do the rest of the concert. The best part was the other girl had no idea what we meant by “smash,” so she was actively participating in the dance/encouragement. Maybe one day I’ll post a demo.

My birthday was 2 weeks ago. I had a great time. I found out about a few fights and drama-fo-yo-mama moments the next few days that followed. I didn’t remember any of that happening. I was almost disappointed.

Instead of attending a friend’s wedding ceremony, I opted to watch the USA v. Ghana World Cup match at a bar in downtown San Jose with my friend and fellow wedding ceremony-ditcher, Sakajamaymee. We were wearing our suits since we had to go straight to the reception afterwards. Patrons of downtown San Jose do not like it when two guys wearing suits hang out at a sports bar, especially if one of them has a purple shirt/tie on.

Last thought of the morning – Millionaires. This new trio of raunchy teenage-girls-turned-pop-stars is disturbing. I’m not sure if their lack of inhibitions and abundance of disturbing sexuality is good or bad for society. But I’m gonna go with good. Why? Because they’re ridiculous and give us someone to laugh at and ridicule. Why is that OK? Because that’s their goal, it’s what will keep them relevant until they have to go back to high school in the Fall. A win-win for both sides is always a good thing.

It’s another Gad Van Damme Friday