If Steven Spielberg has any idea of making a movie like “M.T. : The Misplaced-Terrestrial”, I would do anything to dust it off of his head. Lives of M.T’s are more embarrassing than they are adventurous. Trust me.
The camera zooms in showing, first the universe->solar system->a revolving Earth-> a disfigured Google Earth screenshot-> South America-> Brazil-> Parana-> and finally a road sign that reads “Ben Vindo a Curitiba”. (Oh, well, if Spielberg had graduated from Karunya, I bet this would be the opening scene. The hundreds of presentations they show sort of hardcodes into your brain that any visual clip starts with the cosmic mystery)
And then clearing from a hazy image, you see the protagonist (which would be me), staring back at you – blank and petrified.
Yeah, right, that is how I felt when I landed in Sao Paulo. I had to take a domestic connection to Curitiba from there, and for a really long time I was wishing Portugal had colonized India instead of the British. Nothing here was in English. Nada! Even those airport folks who wore jackets inscribed “Need help?” replied something in Portuguese which I interpreted as “Sorry, we don’t speak English”.I felt like I was stranded. Guess anyone would have felt pretty much the same, specially when you were sent a couple of emails about the high crime-rate and a list of DON’T’S that went upto page 4.. To top it all, I was watching ‘Taken’ on the flight from Dubai to Sao Paulo. Crumbs!! I was wondering how I was ever going to figure out where the domestic terminal was, let alone the flight. Thank God for a Mumbaikar at the airport, who helped me with my luggage and the domestic terminal. Saude, Mr. Alphonso!
Finally in Curitiba! The family that lets me lodge is amazing. A godsend, honestly! But most of our conversations are gesture-talk. And it is more like I start laughing when they tell me about a dead grandmother thinking it was some joke about SpongeBob.
If you think that was awkward, welcome to the new awkward.
It was the first day at office and I’m so grateful for the folks and their friendliness. They invited me to lunch at a buffet place and there were around 12 of us. If it wasn’t for ‘Motorist-Namesake(MN)’, I wouldn’t have known I had to pick my own plate and my own food. MN introduced me to Sushi and man, it was the best Sushi I’d ever eaten in life! (Alright, that was the first Sushi I ever ate). Everything about Sushi was great except that I didn’t know how to use the chopsticks. I plopped a Sushi-unit(Pardon me, I know not what they call it) into Soy sauce and no sleight of chopsticks worked to retrieve it. Thank God no one noticed. Or were atleast courteous enough to pretend like they didn’t. I finally saved it from disintegrating in the sauce with a fork, on MN’s suggestion, for which I was very grateful as it came with no laughter attached. I ate the remainder of the food with fork and knife. Tchaued the chopsticks!
Partly feeling okay and mostly NOT OKAY AT ALL, I was on my way home, and huh! I need to travel an hour and a half, switching 3 buses that are loaded with “English – strictly prohibited” people. Come on, this is the first time I’m travelling back from work, the route is all new and I can’t even pronounce the place I need to get down to take the next bus. And despite it becoming pretty dark when my watch shows just 6:30 pm, I managed to reach the final boarding place and Jitters! Usually the buses are boarded at the front entrance and I religiously did so till I was shoved back and directed (read: pointed) to the mid-entrance of the bus. Seems at stations called “Terminals”, as the one I was standing in, so was the custom. Bah!
Already flushing pink(Okay, I know it doesn’t show on my face), I got inside to hear a group of women LOL and like the instincts of every human, native or misplaced, I thought they were laughing at me..and I went purple(which didn’t show either, duh!)
Next morning, I take the 7 o’clock bus sternly believing morning brings with it joy, and hoping that I find myself less misplaced – this is what I realize. When in school, say 2 of every 10 people are pretty and of course, you’re in the other 8, fervently wishing to be in the minority. In college, 5 of the 10 girls are pretty and cute and you ask God why He never answered your “with-faith-like-a-child” prayer from school. Well, God’s timing is perfect, ain’t it? Now, here in Brazil, He let me receive my answer.. I’m one of the two, and 8 out of 10 are gorgeous! Thanks, Lord!!
People drive on the right side and I so idiotically open the left door of cars forgetting it is the wheel side which immediately commands a “So, you gonna drive? .. Huahuahua..” from my colleagues..and a series of funny comments in Portuguese, and suddenly I’m thankful I don’t understand the language. And I was almost run over trying to cross the road as I carefully checked to the right and a truck vroomed past me from the left. “Oh darn!” I screamed to myself,” That’s the right side” ..and I heard myself – That is the right side! Yeah, perhaps it wasn’t all that thwarting, just that it would have cost me my life.
Well, these are some miseries that I faced, as a fairly level-headed independent major. Guess it would take some more time till I fit in.. Until then, Me. T. , The misplaced terrestrial will have to survive the weird and wonderful ways of the nova lugar(new land, in Portuguese.. ;) ).