Monday, February 06, 2006

My Classical Gaffes

Talking about classical gaffes, here are some that I did (or was involved in):

  1. A few weeks after we'd been in the US, Maneesh and I went to rent our own Car as we couldn't go anywhere without a car (as in most of the US, except in NYC). We both had never been to anywhere outside Alameda, CA where we lived and worked and asked one of our co-workers to accompany us. We rented the car, got the maps and was asked to follow our colleague. We knew that the rental place was 10 minutes from our apartment. As soon as we got out of the rental parking lot, we missed our colleague. Now we were on our own. So we started driving. Maneesh was the driver and I was the navigator. As my friends would tell, I am the worst navigator around -- I have no sense of direction. So you can imagine what happened next. We drove, drove and kept of driving. It became dark. When we finally thought we were near our area, we saw a board saying 'Last Exit in California'! We had driven our way to Nevada :).. It was hilarious and nerve-wrecking at the same time. When we had finally reached our apartment, it took us 4 hours and 30 minutes!
  2. I have had several nicknames (Mani, Balu, Bala, Subbu etc) over the years mainly because my first name is a long one (Balasubramanian). In my college, my friends called me BS (short for my first name) and am known by that name by virtually everyone in our college. So when I joined this company in the US, on my first day, the IT guy asked me what email handle do I want. I immediately said 'bs'. He asked me 'Are you sure?'. I did not know why he was asking that. I said, 'Yes, I am sure'. Little did I know that, BS here in the US means something completely different. But I have sticked to that email handle :)
  3. This was my very first visit to China (ShenZhen). After having eaten at the same restaurant (in the hotel where we stayed) for a week, a friend of mine and I decided to venture out to try something different. Obviously we didn't speak a single word of Chinese (well we did utter few words of gibberish in Chinese :)). We kept flash cards (like the ones you keep during your GRE prep days) of common words that we want to speak and showed them to the person we wanted to talk. So we went to a Pizza Hut and immediately a crowd of waitresses (yeah, they had atleast 50 waitresses) sorrounded us. So we tried to order. My friend was a vegetarian. So, to avoid confusion, we would have spent literally 10 minutes explaining to them that we want two pizzas with no meat, fish, pork, beef etc by showing them our flash cards, drawing pictures (yeah, seriously). So we waited patiently for 10 more minutes, and guess what we got! 2 pizzas full of every meat that you could imagine. Apparently the flash cards that I showed them have two meanings (in a local dialect). It means "no meat" in one dialect and "all meat" in another. Go figure!

I can go on and on with this list... But I'll stop now :)

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