Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Highlight Reel: Chris & Minny's Favorite Moments

Dear Friends,

The trip has come to an end. I know I sort of petered out on posting that last week, for which I apologize profusely to those who have been avid readers, commenters, and sharers, but I really did need to take an actual holiday and decompress. (I'm finally relaxed -- just in time to go back to work!)

But of course, we couldn't sign off without one last post about our trip, as well as some much-deserved shout-outs and thank-yous to the people who helped make this trip so much fun. So here it is -- our top five list of our favorite moments, many of which you will all probably hear in the coming months since Chris and I both love to repeat our stories.

Chris & Minny's Top 5 Favorite Moments:

1. Adding British and Indian English words to our vocabulary.
Pardon, do you know where my jumper is? Or where I can find a plug point to charge my phone? Forget the Guardian's list of Indian English words to know; Chris and I have our own language now, comprised of words and phrases that made us smile throughout our trip. My favorite expression I saw last year -- Follow Lane Discipline. Only Indians will use the word discipline on a street sign. (And then ignore the sign completely, btw.)

Chris's favorite new words because of their ubiquity are veg and non-veg. And for that matter, Coorg and non-Coorg. "I'm non-Coorg, by the way," he says.

2. The Food!
True to my predictions, Chris didn't lose weight or get dysentery, as many of his American friends told him he would. That's because my family knows how to eat. And feed guests. Which is why we both gained at least 10 pounds in the last two weeks.

There are many people to thank for our weight gain, all of whom are named below, but the biggest thank-you goes to my mother, Amrit Bopaiah. "I know she ran a lot of interference to make sure the food was to my liking," Chris says. "And relatively onion-free." (Chris doesn't like onions. I can't tell you how hard onions are to avoid in Indian cooking.)

3. Chris's love of (and susceptibility to) Indian marketing.
I often joke that Chris is the target market for every advertising campaign in the US. I've never seen someone so enthusiastically fall for a label saying "Try it!" on a scented candle or packet of Oreos.

But it turns out his love and susceptibility for great marketing is global. I knew he'd like Thumbs Up, but didn't think he'd want to bring back seven bars of soap (3 Pears and 4 sandalwood-scented). He also brought back cans of Badam almond drink, and regretted not having space for more carved wooden elephants and riksha magnets. I was able to stave off any additions to his snow globe collection by buying him a snow globe of the Taj Mahal last September. But I suspect this is a temporary solution, and I will soon need to find a separate room for all his kitsch.

For the record, there were some misses. Fizz Jeera Masala soda did not go over well. Neither did sweet lime drink, which surprised me. But I'm pretty sure that the minute someone in India figures out how to bottle and preserve sugar cane juice, Chris will be their biggest customer.

4. Chris's remarkable cultural sensitivity.
It's worth mentioning that Chris read every post before I published them. Which clearly shows that he's a good sport. He rarely did more than correct a typo, and never asked me not to write about something. I am incredibly grateful for this as a writer because it sets me free to be funny and write as I see the world.

The only time he asked for changes was when we wrote about his visit to the Gonikoppa fire station, and that was for good reason. He objected to publishing photos that made it look like he was explaining firefighting to the Gonikoppa firefighters. He knew the story was about the Indian experience of firefighting, not a comparison to subtly demonstrate the West's dominance in civil infrastructure and resources.

I am at a loss for words for how much his humility impresses me.

5. Having you all follow along!
This trip to India has been one of my favorites, and I think a big part of that was having our families and friends follow along on social media and this blog. We both hope that we've been entertaining without being blowhards or braggarts. We'd also like to thank everyone who liked, shared, commented, read or simply smiled over our ridiculous postings.

We also need to thank some people by name:
  • First and foremost, Amrit Bopaiah, for doing the lion's share of trip planning. My mother researched ticket prices, planned our itinerary, used points to get us great hotel deals, and basically catered to our every gastronomical desire. Thanks Mom for making this trip so enjoyable and easy. I'm not sure Chris will be able to travel without expecting three course meals from now on.
  • My dad, Vinod Bopaiah for vaccinating Chris against Hep A and typhoid. JIC. 
  • My cousins, Cary Bopiah and Anishya Kumar (Bopiah), for putting us up in London and starting us off on The Great Eating Tour of 2016. (Really, if you're in the UK, go buy some of Anishya's ready-made meals.) Also, their kids are pure cuddly adorableness.
  • Kutts Bittiananda, his wife Anu Mahajan, Sita Aunty and Hector for a wonderful "Welcome to India" dinner our first night in Bangalore.
  • My uncle, Raghu Uthappa, the Godfather of Coorg, who knew everyone and left no string unpulled to give us a great experience during our one week in Coorg.
  • My other uncle, Vivek Bopiah, and his wife Tina Bopiah, who entertained us in Bangalore with their stories and humorous anecdotes. 
  • Mohan Uncle and Preeth Aunty, as well as their daughter Pooja and her husband Jason, for treating us to a fabulous dinner in Bangalore.
  • My cousins, Berry and Praveen, Aisha and Rohit, for capping off our last day in India with a fabulous lunch and dinner and letting us stay in your beautiful home while your son was in the middle of exams. We can't wait to see you and the kids in the U.S. in May. It might be the next installment of this travel log that Carol Price is already asking for. 
  • My cousin, Tilly Bopiah, for paving the way for me to bring a white guy I'm not married to to Coorg. Thanks for being such a trail blazer, cuz. I promise Chris and I are going to make it to Paris soon to visit.
  • Carol and George Price, for trying hard not to freak out as I dragged their son halfway around the world, and for being incredibly supportive of my writing. I hear that Mrs. Price has shared this blog with numerous friends and families not on social media, and I hope you have all been as entertained as we have.
  • Geoff Olds and Matt Sexauer for submitting great questions for Chris to answer.
  • Oscar Grajales for being the type of guy who can appreciate depth and humor at the same time.
  • Arlene Hardy for being a frequent commenter, even when she wasn't sure she "understood what a blog is." We love you, Mrs. Hardy!!
  • Jen Hardy Steiling, Chris Steiling and Elizabeth Price, for also being frequent commenters and Chris's biggest fans. And for taking me into the fold.
  • Lauren Cross, who took my recording of a Coorg morning and turned it into a one-hour stereo broadcast. (I'll let you all know when I upload it to iTunes.)
  • Karen Drachler for helping steer Chris through the Indian tourist visa process.
  • Justin Brown for lending Chris a backpack that made him look sexy.
  • Gabrielle Zevin and Jenny Colgan, for respectively writing The Storied Life of A.J Fikry and The Little Shop of Happy Ever After, two books that made a long plane ride enjoyable and reminded me of how much I want to own a bookstore one of these days. And while we're on the topic of thanking authors, I should also thank Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert for Daring Greatly and Big Magic, both of which gave me the courage to write on this blog again.
  • Last but definitely not least, Chris Price, who never complained about the hardships on this trip and never acts like I need to seek his permission before doing whatever I want, including turning him into a caricature for the amusement of our friends and family. There are many other nice things I could say, but wouldn't that be boring...

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