Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ordering Indian Food

So here's the deal:

The closer you get to India, the more Indians there are. The more Indian's there are, the more Indian restaurants there are and the better the Indian food is.

There are quite a few Indians in New Zealand and Singapore and thus those countries are COVERED with absolutely mouth-watering, DELICIOUS Indian food . . .

I had never had Indian food until I went to New Zealand.

And I fell. In. Love.

Chana masala, tikka masala, korma, garlic naan, plain naan, all the naan . . . I love and wanted it all. And I got it often. Since our lovely study abroad didn't cover our meals as formally promised (still very bitter about that), Indian food became my main diet in New Zealand.

After finishing the study abroad, I met up with my sister and we toured Australia and Singapore.

Okay, okay, okay guys. Let me clear up some misunderstandings about Singapore that I have heard since  I decided to go to (and actually went to) Singapore.

I promise this is important to the story.

- "Why are you going to Singapore?"
Singapore is one of those countries that very few people (at least in the US) think of going to, and once they go there they love it and want to go back. I wanted to go because I'm a geography nerd who studied the history, culture, and attractions of Singapore (and many other countries).
I also wanted to hit up Asia without having to worry about a language barrier or my safety.

"Safety? Language barriers?"

-"You're gonna get whipped or caned if you jay walk, or littler, or chew gum!"

First of all - no. You'll get fined.

Second of all, you don't want to jay walk anyway because the streets of Singapore are INCREDIBLY busy, so you'll die if you choose to jay walk. I guarantee you'll rarely get the chance to. In my six days there I only had MAYBE two opportunities where I could've jay walked if I wanted to.

Chewing gum? Again. You're fined. And you'll be fine, I promise.
Actually first of all if you're so addicted to gum where you can't go a week without it, I have sorrow for you. Your dentist would cringe at your teeth and jaw.
Second of all if you're that addicted to gum and really can't bare the thought of giving it up for a trip to Singapore, I've got no advice for you besides -

Thank you, Alan Rickman. I hope you're resting in peace.

Litter? How often do you intentionally litter right now? If you do, we'll have a little chit-chat about the importance of the environment and the problem of pollution.

Then again my friend just sent this picture to me today so . . .

*Sigh* and people wonder why I'm losing faith in America . . .

-"They don't speak English there!"
Actually, it's the official language.
"But that's just because there's so many different languages in the country, so they make that the official language but nobody actually speaks it!"
Wait what? Okay, no! EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH FLUENTLY. EVERYONE. Take a break. Let that sink in. Repeat that to yourself five times with conviction. Singaporeans speak English fluently. Singapore was under British rule (which also makes sense as to why it was in the third pirates film! Oh ho ho! The things you know when you're a geography bum! Ahem. Anyway.) It's an incredibly modern country. Everyone speaks English. Yes, there's also a lot of Malaysian, Mandarin, and Indian speakers. And everyone speaks English.
(I'm only annoyed by this because I've explained this so many times and STILL people think I'm lying or something. It's like, girl please. If I was gonna lie about something, it wouldn't be the official language of a country. It'd be about my relationship status.)

-"It's clean there."
Yes, very. You could fall asleep on the floor of the subway station's bathroom it's so clean.

- " (insert nothing about the weather here) ."


Now, there are four main ethnic groups in Singapore: Chinese (74 percent of the population), Indian (9 percent of the population), Muslims (which I think is mostly Malaysians; 13 percent of the population), other (3 percent of the population).

When these groups settled, someone (probably some British person. Might've been Raffles. I heard about him all the time both in my research and while I was there. They even have a hotel named after him he was so influential!)

decided to put each . . . race? (Ethnicity? Identification?)  into their own community. Thus bringing to pass Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street.

(See? Not only is my blog hilarious, it's also educational!)

*eye roll
Sorry, Alec Baldwin/ Jack Dohnagey. I'll get onto the story now.

We had the opportunity to tour each one in the lovely sauna-like weather. No, I really did enjoy it! Despite the weather.

The day came for our tour of Little India.

(Hey - notice which language is on top. Gasp! Is that ENGLISH? They speak ENGLISH?! Oh emm gee I would've never guessed.)

We learned about the history, toured the shops, looked at museums, and toured a Hindu temple.


During the tour, our guide pointed out a restaurant and said it was one of the best in Little India. Following the tour, my sister and I went to the Indian restaurant the guide pointed out earlier.

A nice Indian man whose head came to my chest because of his height (like most of the people of Singapore. I found that generally the men were about my height, and generally the women were a bit shorter. I hit my head on the subway handles that dangle from the ceiling to hold onto EVERY TIME) and showed my sister and I up to the second level of the restaurant in a lovely table by the window. We thanked him as he handed us a menu and walked away.

And then, we read the menu.

". . . What is this stuff?" asked my sister.

"I uh . . . don't know."

I realized then that rarely did I actually looked at the names of the Indian dishes I had been getting. I had been solely relying on the descriptions of the food course.

This menu only had the names of the meals. No description.

The meals I did know the names to? Naturally I couldn't find them on the menu.

I scanned the long words with letters mushed together to form names of meals I wasn't familiar with. I bit my lip and flipped the menu.

"Ah! Channa Malasla! I love that stuff!"

My sister and I went to the cashier to order our food where I ordered Channa Masala (curry with chick peas. So good.) and plain naan bread.

We paid and took a seat. I began scanning the restaurant and looking around at the decorations, when I noticed something.

"Bethany!" I said to my sister, "We're the only white people here!"

Sure enough, everyone else was Indian. Now WHY this was so shocking to me I really don't know. Generally speaking we were the only white people anywhere we went. Maybe it's just cause usually there were Chinese among the Malaysians and Indians.  But nope. Just Indians with their beautiful tan skin and silky back hair knowing exactly what their order was. . .
And then this pale redhead shoved in the corner layering on sunscreen and trying to figure out how to best control her hair in this humidity while she had been looking over the menu for something that looked familiar.

 After a few more minutes, the nice waiter who sat us brought my plain naan bread and . . .

"Masala chai," he said.

". . . thank you . . ."

A steaming hot, brown drink in a tall, metal cup with a saucer attached to it sat in front of me. I stared at it completely dazed.

He walked away and I glanced desperately at my sister saying, "What is this?"

"Did you order it?"

"No! I ordered channa masala. She must've misheard me. Is it tea? Can I drink it?"

My sister (who had data. Lucky butt.) googled the drink and said, "It has black tea leaves."

"Man. I can't drink that. Think I should give it to that guy?" I asked nodding to the guy at the table next to us.

"If you want."

I looked from the man, to my drink, back to the man . . .

and began eating my naan bread.

(Looking back I wish I would've just given it to the guy. #Regret)

I finished the naan pretty quickly, due to my hunger and obsession with naan bread. Then, I pushed myself up from the table, and walked back to the cashier.

"Um . . . hi. So, I ordered channa masala. Not masal--."

"Do you want more naan bread?"

"Uh . . . oh, no. That's okay."

The woman told me the price, I smiled sheepishly, handed her my money, and sat down.

Minutes later, the waiter brought my sister her food and turned to me saying, "Your channa masala is on it's way. Do you want more naan bread?"

"No, thank you,"

"You sure?"

"Yes, I'm fine." I insisted.

He left, and a few minutes later he brought out my channa masala - a curry.

I didn't realize it didn't come with rice.

And I had no naan bread.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of Indian food, eating plane curry isn't the best way to go about it. I mean I'm sure it's possible, but when you're as sensitive to spicy food as I am? Rice and/or naan bread with curry is essential.


So I stared at that plan curry, dread filling my stomach alongside hunger as I realized that I would have to go to the counter and re order food . . . again.

"It's not that big of a deal, Carmen," my little brain said to me.

Yes, yes, I know.

But here's what I discovered about myself:

In America? I have close to no issues telling sales people or the like to back off, and that I'm not interested. Waiters and waitresses? I don't care. If my food was ordered wrong, I will politely correct them. If I'm shopping for clothes? I don't CARE what looks good one me. If it's 300 dollars, I'm not buying it and I will let them know that!

In other countries? Oh man. I have SUCH a hard time doing so. It's like, America gets such a bad rap already (#ThankYouTrump. Oops did I just type that?) that I don't want to ADD to the bad reputation by seeming mean by telling sales people to back off and just let me look, or in this case . . . I didn't want to seem dumb.

I tried eating it plain, but I can tolerate spiciness as well as hair can tolerate chewed gum.

Not at all.

"Hey," I said to my sister. "Can you go up and order me some white rice?"



"This is all you."

"You owe me! You almost left me on the train!" I tried to argue.

"Don't pull that card with me."

"Uuuuuuuugh. Fiiiiiine."

I pushed my chair out and walked over to the lady once again.

I smiled uncomfortably and said, "

Can I get rice?"

"What kind?" she said, and I swear I could see humor and mocking amusement in her eyes.

"That kind," I said as I pointed to the menu.

As I walked away, the waiter walked past me, and I heard him and the Indian woman talk. I knew they were talking about me.

"Aren't you paranoid?" you may be asking.

Nope. Cause the woman motioned towards me.

Thankfully I had my rice within seconds, and devoured the channa masala like there was no tomorrow. This was partly due to deliciousness, partly because of hunger, and probably a large chunk was because of embarrassment and I just wanted to get out of there.

I was pretty relieved to get out of there for my self esteems sake, and I wouldn't be surprised if the waiters were happy to see me leave, too.

My overall review of Little India? Fantastic. Just like the food. It - along with Arab Street especially- was one of the highlights of the trip.

(I didn't have any memorable awkward moments in Arab Street, so here's a highlight of the beautiful Mosque we got to go to.)

I truly did fall in love with Singapore. I guess if there's anything I want you to get out of this blogpost specifically it's that Singapore is an amazing, clean, safe, underrated, undiscovered, humid, hot, cultured, curious part of the world with some interesting history behind it.

I guess all I have left to say is . . .



Go there.

Have an awkward day, and an awkward meal everyone :)

ps - I can't figure out how blogspot works with pictures. They're displayed SO organized under the editing section, and then I push publish and the little world is like bwahaha see what your organization looks like NOW, Carmen! Sorry, guys.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Two Mormons Walk Into a Bar

Hello my people!

I apologize for my neglect towards this blog. I'm sure you all have been in great distress over what awkward adventures I have partaken in during the last five monthsish of my life. Don't you fret, because I am back in full force of awkwardness.

One in particular took place on my favorite holiday - St. Patrick's Day.

Why is St. Patrick's Day my favorite holiday? To be honest, I'm not really sure. I don't drink, I'm not even really Irish (although I look 100 percent Irish), and leprechauns kind of freak me out. Honestly I think the main reason it's my favorite holiday is because I look good in green, and so I generally go all out in what I wear.

. . . Well, okay not ALL out like those people you see who wear the leprechaun hats and Irish flags as capes, but I just wear a lot of green. In fact I just bought this pretty green dress that I'm already planning on wearing next St. Patrick's Day. That's how excited I am for it.

So anyway. For no particular reason at all, I love St. Patrick's Day.

. . . . Aaaaand I've never done much to celebrate it.

I know. I know. How can one just adore St. Patrick's Day and not even do anything for it? Well really the only way I knew (and still know) how to celebrate it was to go to a bar, and my friends ain't about that life, and it's not really my go-to hang out spot either.

But this year was different. I was on a study abroad in New Zealand, and was staying in Auckland - my favorite city that we had visited. So why not take advantage of being in one of my favorite cities and celebrate my favorite holiday?

It was decided that we would celebrate St. Patrick's Day the "traditional" way; going to a bar.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't drink alcohol because of religious reasons, and honestly because of personal experiences I have witnessed in my life,  I probably wouldn't drink it even if I wasn't religious. I've seen my friends drunk, and it's weird because they just totally change. I could go on, but I don't think y'all are keen to hear my rantings.

So I knew this experience would be one for the books.

My friend and I dubbed our headbands with a tiny leprechaun top hat attached to it, green outfits, and set off to Father Ted's Original Irish Pub.

The pub donned a archway made of green, white, and light orange balloons; the colors of Ireland's flag. The crowd and music were loud, and people spilled out of the front door and crammed into the front patio area.

My friend and I approached the bouncer. As we handed him our passports he yelled over the crowd, "You girls may want to head downstairs to the basement. It's much less crowded there!"

I dug through my purse, desperately trying to find my passport. Finally, with my hands completely full with a random hodgepodge of stuff, I handed the passport over to him.

. . . What I forgot was that I had grabbed some pass-along cards before I came to New Zealand that just had some simple information about the LDS/"Mormon" church believe in.
 . . . they have a picture of Jesus on the front.
. . . and what I also forgot was that I had slipped one into my passport.

The bouncer flipped open my passport and caught the picture of Jesus before it hit the ground. He promptly burst out laughing. I think my face showed some kind of mixture of bashfulness, awkwardness, and humor. It was weird.

Head turned down slightly, I took back my passport and my friend and I maneuvered through the crowd and into the basement of the pub.

I had no idea what to do at this point. There were a few circular tables, a main counter with one bartender and hoards of people surrounding it, a live band playing Irish drinking style versions of modern day music, and in the middle of all this stood us. Clueless, sober, us.

Amazingly enough, this was the first time either of us had been in a bar. I mean, we had both been in restaurants that had a bar attached to it, but never a straight bar.

Still standing awkwardly in the middle of it, I said to my friend, ". . . What do we do?"

"I think we order our drinks."

"Oh. Right."

We walked over to the counter and I stood in what we thought was a line. I began getting decently annoyed when a bunch of business men kept cutting in front of me to order their drinks.

"I think we just walk up there," my friend said.

"Oh. Right. Yes."

We pushed through some well-dressed men in suits and approached the main counter, where a flustered woman whose hair was pulled back so tight I thought it was stretching her face out, served drinks.

"Hi," my friend yelled to her over the crowd, "Weird question. What do you have that's non alcoholic?"  

Confusion ran over the woman's eyes for a split second. She recovered fairly well and said, "Well, uh we got water, sodas, lemonade, virgin margaritas, or ginger ale from the tap."

"Lemonade," we said in unison.

"Medium or large?" she asked.

"Large," I said at the same time my friend said, "Medium - No wait, large!"

The woman nodded and returned back with two large, non alcoholic, carbonated lemonade.

Fun fact: "Lemonade" in New Zealand and Australia is more like Sprite than it is "American" lemonade.

My friend and I stood awkwardly for a second once more in the middle of the crowd, then went to the back of the bar, where there were a few circular tables standing by themselves with a perfect people-watching spot.

We had just been there a few moments, when a shorter, balding man ran up to us, iPhone in hand.

"HEYYY LADIES!" he yelled.

Okay I wonder how drunk this guy is. 

I wish I could tell you what he said next, but the next thing I knew he was scampering off to the back closet of the bar and came back with three versions of two different St. Patrick's Day hats (one version was a black and green tall hat that had the brand name of that one beer that starts with a G or something, and the other was a light green top hat with a leprechaun and a rainbow on it . . . cause as I mentioned before I LOVE leprechauns), and two enormous four leaf clover glasses.

We donned our hats on top of our headbands, and wore the giant glasses as well. Then, the man leaned forward and took a selfie with us on either side of him.

Don't worry my friends. You can close your mouth and take your hand off your chest. I, myself, probably would've been more worried if it wasn't for the fact that he was completely drunk and the selfie was slightly blurry and really only showed my face from the nose up anyway.

We stood a few more minutes in the basement, and then decided to see what the upper level was like.

Who knew going up a flight of stairs, through the front patio area, and inside another room would've been so adventurous.

As soon as we hit the top of the stairs, we were engulfed in a sea of people; drunk, loud, unpredictable people. My friend and I pushed our way through the crowd all while holding our lemonade, hats, and glasses. I also found myself cradling my purse, although looking back I don't think there was anyone that was sober enough to even figure out how to unzip it.

My friend was a few paces ahead of me. I was pushing through the crowd trying to catch up, when I saw a woman drop her phone right in front of my feet. I stopped and picked the pieces of the phone up. It now had the back pop off and the battery fly out.

I handed the parts to the woman who it belonged to - a short, skinny woman who shared my blindingly white skin tone and red hair that was pulled back as tight as humanly possible and make up that exaggerated her features. She held a glass of . . . I'm assuming it was white wine (It was white and it was in a wine glass) in one hand. I handed her the pieces which she gripped in her free hand and said, "Oh [explicate], is your phone okay?"

. . . wait what? Oh. Drunk. Yes.

". . . No, honey, that's your phone!"

. . . Oh my gosh did I just say honey? I hate when people call me honey! Was that out of sympathy or sass?

The woman stared at her phone with a confused expression a bit longer. Once she registered what had happened she said, "Oh that's fine my phone is [explicate] anyway."

An uncomfortable smile came on my face and I gave her the best response I could think of:

(Tina Fey and Liz Lemon are my hero)

And then I slithered off.

I caught up with my friend and as I was explaining what happened, when I noticed that my leg and foot were soaked.

"Ah man my foot's wet."

"What?" my friend asked loudly over the loud music and people.

"Nothing!" I yelled back. "Just . . . alcohol."

I retold her the story of what happened with the woman and she responded, "How drunk was she? It's barely eight o' clock. She's got a loooong night ahead of her."

We didn't last long upstairs. The people were as loud as the music and my friend and I had to scream at each other in order to hear one another. After probably thirty seconds tops, we headed back downstairs.

There wasn't much left to do at this point. The lemonade was gone, and really it was kind of dull. Mostly there were just drunk people singing along terribly to the music. Please, if I wanted to hear Mumford & Son's "I will wait for you," I would rather hear the band play it rather than a bunch of off tune drunk people.
Although one lady loosing balance and falling to the ground and laughing hysterically was pretty entertaining.

Before we headed out, we decided we needed to document our evening and the free swag we received. Donning our hats and classes, my friend approached a man who came up to about my elbow. I watched as my friend asked him to take our picture, then him grabbing his friend to take the picture.

My friend came back to me to pose for the picture.

"What did he say?" I asked.

"I don't know. Something like 'murmur too drunk murmurmur no murmurmur my friend. I guess his friend is taking the picture." she responded.

We stood and smiled for the picture . . .

and stood there . . .

and stood there . . .

"You taking a selfie?" asked my friend.

The guy laughed hysterically, and finally another friend stepped up to take the picture. He argued at first, saying that the friend was going to drink his beer, and whilst doing that, the friend snapped a picture of us, gave us the phone back, and we went on our merry way.

(Those glasses really aren't that flattering, are they?)

As we pushed through the crowd once more to leave, we handed the bouncer one of our free hats (and when I said handed, I mean my friend set it on his bald little head), and went out to explore the city.

"Man how long were we in there for?" I asked, glancing at my watch. "A half an hour."

This experience taught me a lot of things:

- Bars? Not my scene. But they're doable for a half hour because you get a good story in that amount of time.

- Drunk people? Pretty stupid.

- I now know how to celebrate my favorite holiday: Get a lemonade at a bar, stay there long enough to get a good story out of it (preferably no longer than a half an hour), and spend time with one of my good friends who will go into bars and stay sober with me.

And thus ends the tale of the Mormon who walked into a bar. And stayed. And got alcohol spilled on her. And free swag. And a new experience.

Have an awkward day, everyone.

Stimpson out.