30 November 2008

Again I went into the mode ... the mode which gets me pretty down ... its triggered when I see something small and huggable ... something similar to my nephew Arya. I had been to this potluck dinner @ an uncle's friend's place ... and there I saw this tiny creature ... little pants ... naughty laughter ... hair flowing down till his eyes ... tightly hugging his dad ... never letting him go for a second. Anything small and huggable ... even a pillow ... reminds me of Arya. No day goes by without me thinking about the day I go back to India ... he's playing ball near the gate ... i come with baggages and all ... he looks at me and calls out my name ... and then i hug him so tight he starts crying! Until that happens ... i gotta be the one to cry :-(

29 November 2008

Every Indian who steps foot in the Yankee's land (aka America) ... including me ... one thing they have to face is certain ... the wrath of people back home! Because, you are not only stepping into an alien land, you also somehow become a representative of this country, responsible for every crap this country does or gives.

Obviously, my situation was not that different. Any talk with friends ... cousins ... parents ... or any Indian in general led to statements like "Dude, your economy sucks!" ... "Dude, do you realize our Asia is the next superpower" ... "Dude, what does your Obama have to say these days?" What the heck??? My country, your Asia, and my Obama? Since when? Of course ... its all for fun ... but then, after a while, it starts getting onto your nerves.

On the first hand, ain't these people supposed to be proud that one among them got into a world-renowned university for a PhD program? To be one among the 3 PhD students selected every year ... you think it was just a fluke? Great ... now i will be branded as a big-time bragger.

So, suddenly, i am somehow responsible for every decision the US government takes, i am responsible for every economic crises the world has to face because of a dying US economy, and I not only have to give explanations about why US always goes to war against the middle-east, I also have to admit that nothing can stop the rise of India and its booming economy.

I shall keep the humor part aside. But why on earth do we have to continuously prove that our country is shining? We should let the figures talk for themselves right? Its said that in 10 years, India's economy will be larger than that of Italy's ... and in 15, India would have overtaken Britain. Of course, its still China leading the race among the Asian countries with consisting improve in the economic status since 1980. If we have to constantly keep telling others and ourselves about the flourishing India ... it only talks about our inferiority complex ... something probably instilled into us during the British rule. Or else, why do we weigh ourselves against others so much all the time.

Its obvious that no country is free of problems. And with a growing economy ... responsibility increases ... so do the problems; the only difference is, with a good economy of the country, we have better ways to tackle problems. America is a prosperous nation ... resources are so plenty, people here can afford to waste it to the core. Yet, America is plagued by so many problems all the time ... if its not natural disasters, its terrorist attacks; if its not increasing crime rates, its the increasing rift between the 'whites' and the 'blacks' ... if its not dying economies, its about unemployment. So development does not promise a problem-free nation ... it never has!

Believing in the growth of a country, being proud of its rich culture and being patriotic is one thing ... India and America are perhaps not so different in these aspects. Probably, Americans are more patriotic than us ... surely possible. And to say America has no culture ... is another big misconception being cleared only these days ... we don't identify with it because it is not our culture. 3 months here has taught me more about India than what I could learn back home. Its said that patriotism reaches a new high in an alien land ... its true! You know the value of something when its not with you. At the same time ... i also learnt that we only tend to adapt wrong ideals from the West and then end up dubbing it as Western culture.

And then there are this other section of Indians who settle down in US but just talk shit about India. I had seen them in movies ... read about them in books ... now that I am actually here, I can see them ... and oh man! They are such irritating people ... they ask if Bangalore has any flyover as of now ... and if I say 'yes' ... they give this mocking laughter that makes me wanna rip my hand off and throw it at them. Russell Peters says it right - "America and India are pretty different. Like ... they have different enemies. Americans fight against the Muslims ... Indians fight against each other! So for all ye who think India is the greatest country in the world - all i can say is - "I don't think so mate! We have the potential for it ... we just aren't there yet"

27 November 2008

Ever since I have set foot into US soil ... one question has continuously bothered me. What the heck shall I eat? I very soon realized my definitions of food and the definitions here were very different. Vegetarians were still considered mythological people ... and I had to even ask them if the drinking water they serve was purely vegetarian or did they consider fancy to mix it with beef powder !

Of course ... Indian stores like Bombay Mart saves my intestines from getting absorbed as food ... but a meal plan ... oh that was what I badly needed. Especially for afternoons. I started off with making Puliyogare a day ... tomato baath another ... and lemon rice a third day ... and then repeat the cycle. This was a terrible idea. The complexity of the dish and the number of vessels I need to wash in the end are directly proportional. And although my Puliyogare tasted better than the one given in SV Temple (which sucks actually!) ... the plan just failed outright.

Making chapatis was another long-term project I decided to take up. But then after keeping the dough in the refrigerator for a day ... it changed beyond recognition into a soot-like mass of sticky charcoal-type slushy fungus. Plan dropped!

My 3rd idea was skipping lunch outright. To beat the hunger, I substituted food with flavored yoghurt and a banana. This worked fine ... except for the fact that I was so hungry in the evening that I could eat a penguin. To beat this hunger, I sped off to Scaife, grabbed a box of fries and hot cocoa mix ... and gobbled up with greed. And for those who know me well enough, Suhas never shares his fries (Suhas never shares any of his food mostly ... unless he hates it). Fries and chocolate everyday ... my room-mate soon saw my paunch ... aka protruding abdomen.

Now i've hit upon uncooked chapatis (courtesy Bombay Mart) ... let's see how long this works. Anyways, I have friends good enough to share their food ... invite me over for lunch/dinner regularly ... or come over and cook at my place.

My roomie's gone off for thanksgiving. I was so sure I'd stop eating ... no no, not coz I don't eat when my sweet-heart's not around ... but it gets so bugging to cook for myself. But surprise surprise! I have been eating a lot more than I usually do ... either our relationship is not working out ... or else I have realized the importance of giving exercise to my digestive enzymes. And above all ... very soon I am expecting some banana chips to come my way. How or why don't ask me ... but when banana chips are with me ... all my meal plans go to hell! That's my dinner, my lunch, and breakfast. And no, i don't share banana chips too :-)

16 November 2008

The last time it snowed ... i was dancing around the streets of 5th Avenue. It was sad that my friends weren't around then ... and i only had company of shocked Americans who were aghast looking at me doing weird walks ... and i am sure atleast one among them thought i am a terrorist.

Today ... when it snowed ... i just yawned casually. Its a pity how man loses interest in some things so soon. Man needs entertainment ... a break from monotony ... a change that is everlasting. But this snow was a bit different.

As we adventured around with our cooking in the kitchen ... my room mate happened to notice that the snow was accumulating outside. That never happened ... snow would just turn into water. Put a look outside ... and you could see leaves and flowers sprinkled with what looked like salt. Both of us rushed outside.

Sandeep almost slid past the entrance whereas i came jogging around. Immediately a gush of wind and tiny feathery snow flakes hit us. The cars had layers of ice over them already. After utilizing that snow a lot ... and cleaning up the cars (the owners would have been grateful) ... we started thrashing each other with snow. Sandeep was the first ... he duped me into writing something on the car and right came a flurry of snow on me. M was the one who I thought would get thrashed by my snowballs ... but it had to be my roomie ... he was more closer to me and he deserved sound thrashing. So we started piling up huge balls of snow and flooding each other's faces ... i don't know whether we went into hypothermia ... but unanimously it was decided to head back home. I had a hard time answering nature's call ... perhaps it had turned into ice ... or worse, perhaps it will never ever come. Anyway ... won't gross you out more ... that was the end of our snow play ... the first we have had in Pitt.

You remember my last take home exam? Yeah ... i now say that one was easy. Seriously! Oh God! To hell with these take-homes, please gimme the good old closed book Indian-type exams ... the exams here are pretty much like putting your hand through your eyes and reaching out into your brain ... mixing up the cerebrum like you do when making dough for your chapatis ... and stabbing yourself with a knife at the same time.

Day 1: 9-30pm ... i'm at the Cathedral. I don't know whether its Hermione (from Harry Potter) who inspired me ... Mr. Herman Sandeep and his Red Bulls ... or just the aura of the Cathedral, i just love that place. I wish I could move in there with all my luggage, take up a corner, and make it into my sweet home. I slogged till 6-30am the next day ... read quite a lot of notes ... ate quite a lot of junk in between ... and got freaked out innumerable times when all the cleaners glared at me every now and then. I was sort of a nigger too like them (pardon me!) ... so i was pretty much sure that they won't whack me with their brooms or buckets ... but what if they wanted my PNC debit card? Heck!

Day 2: 10pm ... i'm at the Cathedral. I don't know whether its Hermione (from Harry Potter) who distracted me ... Herman Sandeep's Red Bulls ... or just the ambiance of the Cathedral, i just could not study well. I slogged till 3-30am ... gave up and decided to head back home.

Day 3: 9-30pm ... i'm at the place of M and S. The place of M&S and the Cathedral are similar in many respects ... its very very creepy ... its pretty dark inside ... everyone gives me glaring scary looks ... the bathrooms are so clean ... and i love going there :-) I cannot say anything more about the take-home becoz if Dr. Songer or his TAs are reading this ... they'L think we copied during the exam. I refuse to disclose any more details.

The take-home drew to a close ... its probably the last for this semester. The remaining are open-books which are worse, by a lesser extent. But this take-home too ... like the other one ... left me disoriented, confused, cracked up, mentally retarded, and permanently handicapped by the end. This country is totally screwed !