India faces anti-corruption law

People don’t really talk to me anymore on the trains or busses. Compared to the train, busses don’t really provide a space for conversation. I’ve been taking the bus lately though because of the heat. An air conditioned seat on the train is more expensive, and although I’m adventurous, I don’t really feel like spending 3 or more hours cramped in with other sweaty hot bodies in icky heat. So, I take the bus. I took the non-AC bus by accident to Mumbai. I forgot that it takes longer because the busses are older and it has a hard time getting up the hills in Lonavla. On the way back I quickly jumped at the chance to get on an AC bus. It was quite late last night (I’ll explain later) and there was some confusion on which bus I should take. All of the Shivneri busses go to Pune, but they leave you in different locations. I used my limited and very broken Hindi (which hasn’t improved at all in the past 2 months) to explain myself, impressing the guy behind me who was also buying a ticket on the same bus. We ended up sitting next to each other. I’m used to the round of questioning. It’s pretty blunt (not rude, but there is a different forwardness to speaking here than in the US) and asked a few more questions than I usually get like how I get paid. He then said what many people say, but in a different way. He was touched that someone, a foreigner, would come to India to work. I made his day, which in turn, made my day. I had to explain to him that Akanksha is an Indian run organization with only 2 foreigners in the Pune office. That also made him happy. We spoke for a bit and then he got a phone call. I put the news on (BBC podcast) and fell asleep. I only woke up at the rest stop and before he got back on the bus I was fast asleep again. His name began with an A and ended in a ish, but it wasn’t a name I had heard before. He worked for an IT company in Pune. His company was moving him to Bangalore next week and he was in Mumbai to visit his cousin and some other coworkers.
The reason for the late bus back was because we were supposed to do a performance at the first annual Tattoo convention. At the convention you could get a free Ohm tattoo on your right forearm. There were also many other discounted tattoos. The art was kind of cool and it exposed me to a crowd that I’ve yet to see in India. The tattoo crowd is a lot smaller and their tattoos are a lot smaller and less all over the body than Americans, but there were a few. We were supposed to perform at 5 but as 8:00 slowly approached we packed up and left. Apparently we were waiting for some famous person to appear. Our patience had run out. I’m happy we left.

In other news, I went to the dentist last week. This is the dentist almost everyone in my office goes to. I went with another coworker/friend. The dentist sent a text message saying his receptionist was on leave and he was running a few minutes behind. We waited in his tiny waiting room and were seen 15 minutes late. After a brief conversation he took a look at my teeth and asked when was the last time I had a cleaning. Nervously I answered maybe 3 years ago. He then surprised me by saying that he wouldn’t clean my teeth because I have no deposits and a cleaning would wear away my enamel. I’m not sure how many of you have been following since my first blog, but the week before I left, I had my first cavity ever, which I got filled instead of getting a cleaning. I wonder how many dentists in the states would say what this dentist said. My “checkup” cost me 100 Rupee, which for here is also cheap. He said to come back in 6 or so months. It made me happy.

Last week India witnessed a huge policy change, brought, completely, by the efforts of a social activist, Anna Hazare, who fasted for the Jan Lokpal Bill. It’s an anti-corruption bill that forms a new committee, independent of government, that only investigates corruption cases. Hazare’s fast didn’t last too long, the bill was passed within a week. The entire country, last Wednesday, crusaded in different candlelight vigils and had various demonstrations. Many people fasted to show solidarity. I made it through half the day, until I got a big headache and got crungry (cranky hungry). I had to go to a center in the afternoon and never would have made it if my coworkers didn’t make me eat. They call Hazare, Ghandian. He’s one of my new heroes. He started a whole sustainability project around water conservation and ecology. If you want to read more about someone who might remind you of Ghandi of our time,

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