I have finally left somewhat cold Delhi for the warmer weathers of Bombay. After packing up all of my stuff into two over-weight bags, I went to the airport ready to pay some money for my entire life in two bags... but I was let off from paying by the nice check-in counter woman at KingFisher with only a warning not to do it again! How, one might ask, did I avoid 3120 rupees (65 USD) worth of a fine (15 kgs over at 208 rupees per kg)? Well I spoke in Hindi and said I was a student! Somehow that worked... After an uneventful plane ride, I landed, staying at my friend Raj's house for a day until I found my own apt in Bandra (a suburb of the city), by this I mean- think SoHo but located Park Slope, Brooklyn distance from Time Square (in this case Corlaba). I basically live in the West Village/SoHo of Bombay. Am I cool, or what? I am still setting up, I need Internet and cable, but I have a pillow and a bed so life is good.
Based on my few days of observation in Bombay I have some thoughts on the differences between Delhi and my new city: 1) Delhi is round in design and flat, Bombay is long and has some hills. 2) Delhi's metro is new and shiny, Bombay's train system is old, not air conditioned and not as scary as everyone says- think NYC trains during rush hour after you have waited for 10 min, but like this all the time. Also there are women only cars so no creepy guys, and less pushing, and people are helpful about helping you out. (I would like to thank the nice Auntiji who told me which side of the car the Martunga Rd platform would be on, and said to just follow her off the train because that was where she was going too). 3) Bombay is windy- so even when hot there is a nice breeze, Delhi is not windy. 4) Everyone uses the meter (autos, taxis etc) in Bombay (yeahhh!), I have to argue with everyone to get a fair price in Delhi- but the auto wallahs are more talkative in Delhi. 5) I can wear skirts to my knees in Bombay no problem, Delhi is long skirts only. 6) I have lots of Friends in Delhi, I am beginning to make friends in Bombay.
So (as per my Fulbright project), I was sitting in the middle of a brand planning meeting for Pepsi's new foray into Andhra Pradesh (for those of you who don't know, its a state in India), where they want to increase their soft drink sales. At this meeting in New Delhi, at an Indian brand planning agency, with all Indians except me, the discussion turned to why Americans consume so much Coca Cola/Pepsi and why Indians do not. In India, getting the average person to consume any soft drink more than once or twice a month is difficult, in part because people do not consume flavored drinks with food. In the USA people drink soft drinks with lunch, breakfast, snack, and when we get down to it, anytime and anywhere. In India, there is this idea that adding a flavored drink to your meal will ruin the meal and expressions of general disgust are made when this is mentioned. Soft drinks are consumed in India at: movie theatres, hanging out with friends at the mall/street corner/ dhaba (street side stall) etc. Maybe soft drinks are served to guests at a house if it is hot out, or if they are children, but tea is considered nicer and more appropriate. But this does not explain why Americans consume so much soda.
So I am asking everyone for your help: Why do Americans drink so much Soda/Pop/Cola?
I was unable to answer this question, maybe you can help me explain it to my Indian friends and colleagues.