Making Friends

The weekend has arrived!

I am really really enjoying working here! I should say, my workload is light right now. Ask me in a couple of weeks and I may be singing a different tune. As far as I can tell however, the types of documents that need to be produced for my project and what is required of me seems largely aligned with what I’m used to stateside. No notable differences at least. It’s the social culture at work that has been most surprising – and pleasantly so. I’m not entirely sure if this is common across workplaces in India, but here are two things I love:

1.  You are not allowed to eat or even drink chai at your desk. This is a real rule. Consequently, every few hours someone is inviting you to take a break and go downstairs to the canteen (aka cafeteria)  – “Let’s go for tea/coffee na?” It’s been a fabulous way of getting to know my coworkers.

2. Everyone loves to share, especially their lunches. Whether you’ve bought the thali of the day or brought from home, everyone’s dishes/tupperware containers are going around the table. Very much like lunch time was in elementary school just, instead of getting rid of the stuff not wanted, everyone truly wants you to try their food. What’s so great about that? a) You get to try delicious home-cooked food or taste the menu items you wanted but didn’t get. b) The food you cook and the stories behind it can be really personal. It’s become another way of learning about each other, families and traditions. Seriously. And everyone knows who cooks what best and openly makes requests.

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling the best (I think a combination of dehydrated/hungover and tired) so I decided not to go to lunch with the group as a result. My coworker, instead of eating what she brought, insisted on buying lunch and gave me her homemade squash soup saying it would fix my stomach. It did. And it was so great to have something to eat that was on the lighter side. How nice is she? (Rhetorical.) Let’s keep in mind we met five days ago. About three hours later I was back to 100%.

So let me work backwards. Friday wasn’t one of my better mornings because Thursday I went out to Olive in Bandra with four of my future classmates – all of whom are engineers working finance. The group was two girls including myself and three guys. (Oh I had a few drinks and was completely careless in forgetting to ask for them without ice. Yikes. Probably because Olive happens to be a nice restaurant that attracts a lot of expats I ended up getting lucky. Won’t happen again mom and dad.) I had the best time! Olive ended up being one of my classmates choices (apparently Thursdays at Olive are a thing so he had to pull some strings to get us an 8:30pm reservation). I was stoked because it was also on my trusty list of recommendations from some of my favorite Mumbai experts (shoutout to Aditi, Anj, Riddhi, Shab). It’s a great indoor/outdoor space, wicker chair seating, candle light everywhere and servers wearing ridiculous Latin lover, floral print, button down style shirts. Special. Regarding my classmates, we got along famously! The guys started talking about getting housing together. The big debate was – diversity in roommates vs. no diversity (aka all Mumbai men living together) as the control group in an otherwise incredibly diverse set of experiences – new country, school, classmates that aren’t in finance, etc. The large concern was that non-indos, while they like Indian food, won’t like the smell of India spices in their home. There’s no resolution as yet. I’ll keep you posted.

A reservation at this restaurant gives you exactly two hours to enjoy. At 10:10pm they had the bill to us and by 10:28pm we basically were all but lifted from our seats. At this point in the night they start moving tables around to create a dance floor AND this is when the crowds start pouring in. Girls in tight bandage dresses + dudes with button downs and one too many buttons undone. Rounds of drinks/shots being bought (a round for 5 people cost me $80 – alcohol is expensive here. Oh but this was neat. Most receipts here have totals that are obviously displayed in rupees. At Olive the credit card terminal recognizes the home bank of the card and gives a total in that currency. Only place I’ve seen that so far. Sure the conversion from rupees to USD is easy enough but it’s helpful nonetheless).

Well guess who walks in? Preeti Jhangiani from Mohabbatein (I had to be told who she was before I remembered). Ashwini and I obviously talked to her and then we shook her hand before leaving. Try not to be jealous.

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