Monday, April 20, 2009

Silent Fun, Everyone!

--India thoughts--

1. Auto drivers: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Sometimes, they're as cheery and giggly as can be, entertaining the attempts of a foreigner's "Tamil in training" with praises and high regards. More often than not, however, they are so unpleasant you'd think, "this is the last man I will ever bring home to Mom." My favorites are what I refer to as the Surprise Drivers- those, whom upon entering the rickshaw vehicle don't give off more than a 50:50 clue as to what their personality will be like, but half-way through the ride pleasantly surprise you with their smile, Tamil music, and neon green strobe light.

2. A day on the beach: What's a worst case scenario? Being haggled by hawkers, trying to sell you everything from magenta cotton candy to little plastic Vishnus? Or being ogled at by a pack of twenty-something Tamil boys like you're the catch of the day? You decide...

3. Sambar: My motto is "Sometimes too watery, never too chunky." The more vegetables the better folks, keep 'em coming!

4. Expat nights: So that we're all on the same page, an expatriate is defined as someone who has taken up residence in a foreign country. Aka- me. There's a select few in the city of Chennai that prides itself on throwing the 'hippest, hottest, expat parties' south of the border. I have very mixed feelings about the aforementioned expat nights and feel compelled to share. When I first arrived in Chennai, I looked forward to my first ever expat night- presumably, a night to mingle with "one's own" and talk "expat stuff" in a space safe, clean, and secure enough for the most distinguished expat. Soon thereafter, though, I discovered that such expat nights represent an unsettling concept and I'm just not sold on the idea.
I'd like to propose amendments to the traditional expat night.

Katelyn's ideas to revolutionize the expat night include the following:
Step I: Invent new branding mechanism. Abort the use of "expat" entirely and call such nights a "good ol' time." That way, there is no confusion. If someone asks if you're up for a "good ol' time," who would dream of saying no?
Step II: Keep invitations inclusive. Exclusions can be made for people that fall into the following categories:
-business networking types
-people only looking to "get some" (crude? yes.)
Other than that, the more the merrier.
Step III: Scene change. Expat nights are notoriously held at Chennai's posh n' swank hotels and clubs. I propose an amendment that states from now on, "good ol' time" nights are held in places more affordable and comfortable to the average Joe. Suggestions include:
-beachfront. On the beach, in the sand, friends together, hand in hand. Okay cheesy, I know, but you get the idea. Near the beach means near a fresh, cool breeze and slightly removed from the rest of Chennai's polluted and noisy streets.
-park. A park! Does Chennai have any? If so, lets utilize them. Otherwise, lets create one. Possible activities include: a picnic, poetry reading, croquet, and other things commonly accepted by civil society.
-Picos! Possibly my favorite idea. Bring a quality grunge pub like Picos (which was previously mentioned in my post on Bangalore) to Chennai, and host a "good ol' time" night there. A night of American rock ballads, Pink Floyd posters, and cheap pitchers. What a better way to bond?
Anyhow, some ideas.
The reason this is on my mind is because Friday night I attended a staged, silent party that was one of the most awkward things I'd ever experienced. Never has my lifestyle been so politely mocked! Basically, my friend works for a local TV station here and they wanted to film some expats hanging out together. So as per a usual Friday night, several of us got together at the Scotsman's house for a drink and chat. What was not so usual however, was the camera-crew, staged interviews, and fictitious dance scenes we were asked to create! All in all, a night dedicated to showcasing "expats doing expatty" things in the most contrived way possible. We bathed ourselves in fruit cocktails, danced to inaudible music, and celebrated an evening with the quirky and creepy theme of "silent fun."


Alex said...

Stage interviews and dance sessions huh? Thankfully, KMEG (the station I work at) has never held a staged dance or anything that cheesy. However, we can do some pretty "intersting" things.

Smaps said...

Alex, you would have LOVED it! And loved is no exaggeration. You would have been glowing in the spotlight of the cameras..soaking up every ounce of actor-stardom you could get your hands on. And you would have been great my friend..just great :)

Jens said...

I totally agree with your suggestions for the expats nights:) But as for the "Silent fun"-night; you totally owned that night with your tamil phrases and camera-friendly behaviour. It was wierd, but you certainly made the best of it. I was impressed:)

Smaps said...

ahhh, too kind Jens, too kind :)

I still haven't seen it on air, though! wonder how it turned out...