It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since I took off from Detroit. I have started to fall into a routine with working days. I get up at 6 AM, shower and all that jazz, breakfast at 6:45, catch the bus at 7:30, work until about 5:45, catch the bus back, relax, dinner at 8:30 (early by Indian standards. Some of the other guests in the house eat as late as 10 PM!) and then bed by 10. Luckily, my bus route got changed yesterday and the time it takes to get home has been cut in half. I enjoy the new route because it gives me new parts of the city to see every day, but the dust in this part of the city is very thick during rush hour and I spend half the ride trying to blink my eyes clean.
I met Mr. Pundlik on Tuesday. He is a very friendly man, but his presence demands respect. I got my assignment for the first half of my stay (non-law school friends will probably find this next part very boring). I have been tasked with writing a template Non-Disclosure Agreement to match the one Tata uses, but under American contract law, and then write a report on the differences between the laws in the respective countries. Indian contract law is different from American contract law in that their constitution expressly states that Parliament has sole authority over contract law. Also, Indian contract law is entirely governed by the Indian Contract Act of 1872. Since India was under British rule when the act was passed, the act is almost a verbatim codification of the English common law of contracts and reads much like the Restatement. This has made it difficult to find differences between our contract law and theirs, especially since there is no “Michigan Contract Act”. This will be an interesting and challenging task to complete.
Last night I came home knowing how to say “ok” in Hindi (the title of this post is how it is written). After I said it to Patil(sp), one of the caretakers, he got very excited and tried for ten minutes to teach me more Hindi. When we were both tired of my lack of progress, he started showing me pictures of his family, he has a son that was recently married (Speaking of marriage, I forgot to mention that the Sunday paper had an entire page dedicated to ads taken out in search of a bride or a groom). I do not think the average guest at the house I am staying in is there for more than a few days, and I know the men that work there are not used to having an American around. Also, I am definitely not used to being waited on or hovered over while I eat and I shower them with “pleases” and “thank-yous”, another thing I think they are not used to. Because of this, they have all taken an interest in me and I consider them friends. This helps when situations arise like last night when my AC was broken. Somehow, one of the prongs had burned itself out to the point of charring. Patil called his supervisor and someone was out to fix it in less than an hour. I had no expectations of it being resolved so quickly because it was already 8 PM.
I think someone told the department of transportation that a Michigander was coming because, since I’ve been here, at least 5 roads I take on a normal basis have been torn up for construction. I’m not sure why they chose to do this now because monsoon season is said to be starting next week. Apparently, all the streets and rivers will flood and the mosquitoes will be swarming. Sounds fun.
If this post seems mundane, that’s because that’s how this week has been. With my work schedule, I am in the office or traveling to and fro for 12 hours a day. I am hoping to get out this weekend and see more of what the area has to offer (after I finish my Law Review write-on, of course). Also, I should have wifi at the house now that one of my colleagues bought a wifi stick for me. For some reason, the Indian government does not want foreigners to be able to buy prepaid mobile phones or internet plans while they are here. I tried to buy one this week and I was told I needed to be here for at least 3 months and have proof of residence just to buy a burner phone!
I started to feel a bit isolated this week. While I walk around, the men stare at me unwaveringly and the women refuse to even look in my direction. I spend most of my day either not speaking or speaking in slow, semi-broken English. However, it seems that the people I see in the housing society and around the office are starting to get accustomed to my presence. I get fewer stares and more smiles with pleasant greetings as the days go on. The men that stop staring long enough to speak with me are always friendly and very curious about where I’m from and why I am here. So, while things seemed a little glum at a point, they are starting to look up. Plus, if I ever get homesick, I know exactly where the KFC is.
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