Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Working Abroad

Indians working abroad is a perfectly normal situation. Nowadays you might find more and more Indians abroad. And their success in living anywhere in the world comes from the fact that they are great survivors.

Soviet Russia was one of India’s friends aand Indo soviet scientific and cultural exchanges were common. Raj Kapoor had a large fan following in erstwhile USSR. People from the countries cooperated on different levels. Exchange of knowledge, culture and science meant that the Soviets visited India and Indians visited Russia. Let me recount the experiences of one such group.

Makahanlal Prasad was part of a team of metallurgical engineers who were sent by the Indian government to train at the soviet steel plants. Prior to the trip to USSR, all the team members were given a crash course in Russian language. The group leader was Vikas Bhide who had a Diploma in Russian and spoke fluent Russian. Upon landing in Leningrad, now called st. Petersburg, they were introduced to their Russian guide, Mr. Nicolas Petrov who spoke fluent English. Thus the team started their three month long stay in the USSR.

As was wont to happen in such trips, after a while, a smaller cluster of friends within the team wanted to explore on their own. And so, Makhanlal and friends went exploring. After a while, they were hungry and they found themselves in a different part of the town far away Mr. Bhide or Mr.n Petrov to guide them to a restaurant. But they found one on their own and sat down to order. The menu card was more like ‘Kaala akshar bhains barabar’ ( Hindi saying literally meaning that the printed word was equal to water buffaloes, can’t make out one from another)for them. So they racked their brains to get the name of Chicken in Russian. But hunger had affected our little Indian troop adverselyand created a momentary memory loss for all of them.

Gurjeet Singh desperately said, “Arre yaar, murgi yaad karte karte nani yaad aa gayi”
Makhanlal said brightly, “Aschcha yaad dilaya, Yaar ande ko kya bolte hain?” ( what do you call an egg in Russian)
Gurjeet said, “yayotz”
“And mother”

So, the order went as Math yayotz

The roly poly waitress rolled with laughter at the order. And makhanlal and friends got what they wanted. After a sumptuous meal, they remembered to than the waitress and the Manager. Shaking hands with the manager, Makahanlal said, “Sabaka, sabaka”. Others followed suit.

Returning to the place where the rest of them wer, Makhanlal and Gurjeet told the leader that the manager was so overcome with emotion that he did not react when they thanked him , “Sabaka’.

Bhide and Petrov started guffawing. They could not stop for a while. When they did, they said in unision, “Good thingthat they did not beat you guys up”
“Why should they beat us? We paid the bill correctly”

“Sabaka means dog. You should have said Speceba”

Dedicated to all strugglers in the foreign lands.


  1. :) lol how do u come with such excellent ideas:) did this actually happen! You rock kk!

  2. Nice one, The Holy Lama (since I do not know your name). Working in Bangladesh for years now, I understand what it is to be away from India. For an Indian, generally-speaking, staying away from India is very difficult.

    Thanks, and best wishes :)


  3. Haha...Holy Lama..Another masterpiece from your unending list of interesting anecdotes. I love the way you come to the main plot...a small backgroud, some history and then finally the incident - the icing on the cake. :)
    Keep writing KK :)

  4. A New Beginning
    Speceba ( Thanks in Russian). Look forward to your encouraging comments

    Ayesha Praveen
    We know the value of language and homeland when we are in such a spot. Hope you are doing fine in Bangladesh. Thanks:)

    Destiny's Child
    Thank You. I feel like a kid who got a toffee with that comment. Bless you.

  5. haha! Good one! It is so difficult to get around if you do not the language..I remember when we went to France how difficult it was to order some food!! Thankfully we did not get beaten up either:-D

  6. LOL:) ood anecdote..Once I also faced lot of problem in Germany when I didnt know german and couldnt find water for my son:)....In the old times water was not so easily available there:)

  7. Haha...lucky chap got away calling the manager dog!! Really sometime language really becomes a barrier to communicate...aw we have to face sometimes in India too.

  8. Novice writer
    Tell us about the experience in France.:)

    Wasser, were you trying to find? And Danka(Thank You in German) for the comment.:D

    Nazish Rahman
    Yeah! He was real lucky there. But he was so confident that they were speechless. :P

  9. LOL. Nice one. Can't imagine myself in a situation like that. A Dog!!! Ha Ha....I am sure anyone will become speechless. Wonder how the waitress figured it out.:)

  10. hilarious, you have a huge treasure of great annecdotes. love them absolutely. The worst I have been in is being like a losht sheep in a mall in madrid, searched for an hour to get salt and when finally i took a pkt to the hotel apt, i found it was very lemony..

  11. Jyothi
    Only the Russians love for India helped him, I suppose.

    Poor Senorita Sujata. :)

  12. I must appreciate your memory. You relate it as if it happened yday. That too a third party account! I'm language-backward. Maybe it's my stubborness. I stick to English no matter where I am. And so far, I've been lucky - bcoz I've managed to survive with English. But in non-english speaking countries, I'm not sure what I would do. I'll probably take notes off your blog.

  13. RGB
    I know you too well and you are the kind that survives. You'll speak or write any language, if neccessary. :P

  14. Hahha...:)..good one..I too heard of similar experiences of my frnd..Thanks for sharing this...yaa..non english countries, the living may be difficult till u learn that language..:)

    Thanks for dropping by my blog..Plz keep coming //:)

  15. Being Pramoda
    Happy to bring the laughs. Thank You :D

  16. I have never been to Russia but have been to China and that was one of my harrowing experience. I had to write down my office address there in Chinese from my office colleague, then show that chit to the reception in the hotel (and it was a good 4/5* hotel), they would call the cab, give them instruction where to go and this is how I used to commute. :P

  17. Mustaf
    China might have been tough. The alphabet scares me. So you are a brave lad, eh?

  18. Excellent story! Just as well they referred to Sabaka after the meal and not before!

  19. Andy Jarosz
    Feel elated when you came by and commented. You might not have understood the Hindi bits in completely. Thanks again:)