Bleaky Break

(A subtle change in format of posts (see bottom) from now on, about which, a regular reader like you, might not need to be notified.)

The Holiday Break has just begun and the festive mood still evades my presence. The buildings at the University are now closed for a two week break which means limited access and no heat.

Outside, as snow pours relentlessly with flakes dotting my vision, inside, I find desolate corridors, darkened hallways, closed offices, empty restrooms, dusty door knobs, silent seats which were all once occupied by my colleagues. There is a false assuring humming sound of the workstations that were left running by them in haste as they escaped to their holiday, partner, home or life.

I ask myself why I have not been able to make much progress on what I had decided last time, but I find no answer. J.M. Coetzee helped to heighten this guilt and regret. Perhaps it awoke a quenched fire? But what is there was no fire at all? Ah, I digress and talk of things that make no sense.

Point? I have to get things straight. I have to get a lot of things done in these few days. Once the new semester begins everything will be sucked out. And I will be sucked in a hole that has no end. There will be scope for nothing but misery. I don't know if Coetzee's book is doing this to me, but I often think that my dream job would be a clerk or an assistant at a remote library of some distant town where I am required to arrange books and their shelves in far away sections where nobody bothers to look or trespass except that of a rare young couple whose presence will not cause much interference to that clerk lost in centuries of literature.

I pray for health this Christmas so that my dentist and physiotherapist stopped ruining this break. Because I can't let days pass by like this. I just can't. I must find time.

I must write.


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Current Book: "Youth" by J.M. Coetzee
Current Music: "Never Say Never" by Justin Beiber ft. Jaden Smith. 

Silly Research

Finals exams are holding me back for producing a long rant for this weekly post, so I present before the kind reader, by his/her permission, a silly project video that I made for a course.

I solemnly declare that I do not intend to trespass or trouble the serious nature of your life with the trivialities of mine.

Note: Do NOT make inferences about my research life on the basis of what you shall see here. Anyway, I know you will. But that's okay ;)


Edit: Video removed ;)

Credits:
Thanks to Turkey and China. Enjoy in full screen, if you may.

My December.

"This is my December, This is my time of the year
This is my December, This is all so clear
This is my December, This is my snow covered home
This is my December, This is me alone"  
- Linkin Park

December. A word that softly brushes upon the old stacked memories of my life, leaving them disturbed.

The reason I find this month to be most touching to me is because of the potential it brings every time I switch my calendar from November.

In every past December, I made resolutions. One month long resolutions. Resolutions to make myself better. All sorts of plans were conceived in my brain in the past years and Decembers to achieve something, something great, something worth, something. But, I failed, most of the time.

Every time, I yielded to the cold that grew around me, that crept on my sides, that numbed my bones. I hid myself under the warm blankets, beneath the warm shawls, upon the cozy bedding, within the gloves, socks and sweaters. I gave myself to laziness, procrastination and slumber. All those goals that were set to be accomplished in the most dormant month of the year, when everyone else was at rest, were lost.

But I hope, not this time. I am in much worse condition of cold weather this time in this new land. As I walk down the road, I find the grass has grown still and white at the top, the road is dominated by scattered flurries of snow, the rooftops of houses are now being hidden beneath a layer of ice. The cold wind stings my eyes and leaves my lips dry. But still, I walk.

I don't see much people now. Most of them are gone, gone like every thing else, like those rabbits and squirrels that hopped around often in good times. Gone to their resting havens. The ones I see, I am not able to recognize or characterize. They are all solitary giants made out of feather down jackets with hoods of fur propped up where their faces were supposed to be. The hoods have replaced the heads. Faces of White, Brown or Black have lost their significance. There is no skin out there. There is no color to be distinguished upon. There is nothing.

There are some people out there, whom I like and respect. Those people who are going to toil in the night when their peers are at rest. For December is like a long night. A long, chilly, lonely night. A night without any sign of the sun. In that night, they will tread alone.

But its a night that's white. As layers of snow will pile deep and shallow, the only thing that will beat this night is white. The white light. It's coming. It's going to mock this night.

So I call you my brave friend, to mock this sleepy night, to walk with me in this white night, upon the heavy snow, against the piercing wind, towards our goals that we have set to achieve in this month. Let's pick those books that were left unread, those songs that were left unsung, those rhythms that were left unplayed, those sketches that were left uncolored, those words that were left unsaid.

Take a break, dude.

Me chilling out.
"Stop. Wherever you are. Just stop. Stop running for a moment, will you? 


Catch up your breath. Let your throat welcome the soothing air back to its calm motion. Let your lungs capture the breeze which could have choked them if you hadn't stopped. 


What are you running for? What are you running after? What are you running from? I know there are good things that you want, that you're running for/after and there are bad things that you are running from. But this is a marathon, remember? Its not a sprint. You will wear out if you continue like this. Calm down, stop. 


Take a break, dude."

This wasn't me speaking really. This is the voice I heard in my head when I found out that there is no bus service on Thanksgiving Day. Spending my one week break of thanksgiving holidays at my office had lulled this inner voice until now. So Thursday became the first weekday in the past few months that I skipped college. Skipped work. Skipped email.

Skipped everything that was important.

I did act a bit fidgety about all this complete holiday and shut off thing but then I realized that the inner voice was right. I really needed a break. I had to stop running. After all who am I? Who are we? No matter how big an achievement we make, we are still at nanoscale when compared to the world. We are those tiny particles oscillating about our own axis trying indefinitely to fight the inevitable thermodynamic equilibrium this system will attain one day. And don't even get me started what role we tiny specks of carbon have on the giant universe. And the multiverse?

Meh, I digress. Had a good thanksgiving dinner at professor's home where everybody enjoyed the turkey and wine except me of course. So I finally took a break, and had a Harry Potter mania kind of thing with friends this week. We watched the previous movies back to back at our home on a projecter. So it was all home theater stuff with popcorn, huge screen and loud sound. Then we went for the 7th's first part, which was "totally awesome". Scariest of all movies in the series and a masterpiece. Perhaps I loved it so much because the 6th one was so terrible.

Since I have taken a break from science, it is art that I will catch up with. There is a novel that I have been reading very slowly, I want to read some more of it. Then maybe I will perhaps write some shit up and send it to a contest or the market. Then there is a secret writing project that needs some attention from me. Hmmm, lots to do still. Break? What break? Must go work.

How Terrible I Am.

My terribleness follows me like a Shadow. It swoops in almost every event that transpires in my life.

# Science? 
I had submitted a poster 'just-for-fun' for an environmental/sustainability conference which was asking for submissions. I did it in like just 5 hours and send it on the last day. One of the mistakes I did was I never discussed it with my advisor. I should at least taken her advice if not permission (which was infact the most important thing)

But when someone told me that you can't simply send out research stuff by writing your professor's name without consulting her first. It could be sensitive data or data which is not ready to be shared yet. I got a bit scared and just hoped that ofcourse yeah they are not going to accept my silly poster.

And guess what, they did. Bless them.

Then they offered a financed trip to Atlanta in the first week on January, 2011 with the host (Georgia Tech) providing good accommodation and everything in a nice hotel for 4 days. I was elated the day I got that email. But then, my terribleness came into the picture. I had to finally, reluctantly tell everything to my advisor who was kind of  'shocked, not-very-happy' and she gave me some long lectures and told things which made me realize how big mistake I had made. I had sent out the research results without even asking the entire team and she explained, "You're too young now, its just your 1st sem, its too early to put out results, don't worry you'll have a lot of conferences in your career."

And I withdrew from the offer.

# Love? 
Over the past few months in this new land, I had strange encounters with the undergraduate (ug) kind. Especially the female types.

- There was this American blonde ug chick who asked me out for lunch one day. I was sort of blank faced for 20 seconds after which she added, "Only if you're okay with it, I will join you". Then we went to teh lunch in a nice place (I don't know if I have described all this in a previous post, I really don't remember), and she was telling me all sorts of crazy stories including the ones in which she and her friends got so much drunk one Friday night, that her she-friend took off her top in front of everyone and then didn't remember anything about doing such a thing the next day when she woke up.

After that she asked me, "Are you a social drinker?" I hesitated, after which she added, "Do you drink, at all?"

My ideal answer should have been, "Hell yeah, what's life without alcohol?" Instead I told the truth and said, "Umm, no." After knowing that she began to behave a bit differently with me in class, although she still sits next to me. Thank you terribleness.

- Then there is this weird Chinese chick who has been having some close encounters. She doesn't really get tired of waving hands at me whether its the outside of the library or the inside of my department or even if its bloody long corridor. Whenever I see her, or I go past her, I see a hand propped up in air and a smile spread on her face welcoming my existence. But then I discarded all these signs considering the fact that some people are just really cheerful and friendly. Too BLOODY FRIENDLY.

But then my doubts were assured when yesterday I met her on my way to the lab and she appeared there, with a propped hand and a plastered smile and asked me,

"Are these your new glasses?"
"Wuh? uh? Umm, yeah," (I was left shocked as nobody in the entire frikking town recognized that I bought new glasses, cuz they pretty much look the same as my old ones, and yes if you remember well I had to order new glasses online due to this.)

"Well, how did you know? I mean, how'd you notice?" I asked.

"It has gray...bla bla..earlier was black..." and she added a lot of other technical information which I didn't hear as I was too busy being shocked at her power of observance.

"Oh um okay. okay c u then," I said and tried to escape my stalker (totally different stalker from this one)

"Btw, you know your glasses are awesome," she smiled as wide she could before I turned my back to her.

That line kept ringing for quite a bit in my mind but then I thought I shouldn't waste too much time thinking about Americans and Chinese, cuz there is a Indian out there, far away, waiting for me.

And since she is there for me, so I could really care less.

But dat's OKAY.

# Happy Halloween. Happy Diwali. I know I am pretty late. Back at home, at this point of year, I was usually found wailing for crackers and trying to eat the sweets before the 'pooja'. And this time I didn't even realize when Diwali came and went. But that's OKAY.

# Although I did realize the happening of Halloween. Only thing serious in this festival is that the chicks look more hot and much slutty, other than that everything else is funny and childish. And so yeah, it was pretty much fun. I have some pictures for you people but I am sorry they lack a lot of good snapshots which my eyes captured. Sorry, no hot-glamorous stuff for you tonight. But that's OKAY.

Pictures --> They are deep down.

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Da Crowd.



One of the Haunted Houses.




Real Ghost Captured on Night of Halloween ;p

# My undergraduate assistant begins to feel queasy every Friday evening around 6 pm, so I try my best to free him early at least on that day of the week. His GPA is his UG is much greater than what I got in my UG. But dat's OKAY.

# He can do differentiation, integration and other tricks much better than me. But that's OKAY.

# Lately I have been fascinated with what a microwave can do. (Please don't be so judgy and make any inferences that 'what a poor guy, never seen a microwave before in life', although you could be true on that one ;p) So I have been trying to cook and heat almost everything in the microwave. From drinking a glass of water in the morning to the my daily 2 minute meals on which I have been living so far. But dat's OKAY.

So my recent exploit was that I put a plastic packet of cookies in it. I thought I even want my chocolate biscuits to be warm when they kiss my tongue. After 20 seconds I heard some cracking and popping sound and when I tried to peer in, I saw a flame burning inside. LoL.


I put the office microwave on fire, yeehaw.

And then I doused it and ate hot chocolate cookies covered with a thin layer of carcinogenic melted plastic compounds. And the spent the rest of the day wondering how soon will I die. But I didn't die. But dat's OKAY.

Morale: Never let Monkeys use advanced equipment.

Koi jatan ab kaam na aave
Uss kachu sohat naahin
Mora piya mu se bolat naahin
Mora piya mu se bolat naahin

And dats NOT OKAY. 

Sensual Snippets

# The Play
I went to a musical German play a few days back in the public auditorium (which is quite huge with an enormous seating capacity (~1000) and triple balconies :O) of the city in hoping to see have some fun and also see some serious acting. I had a bleak idea that the play was about teenage issues n stuff but as the play moved on, I realized it was just way too much focused on 'those' issues.

It had everything, lol. From child abuse to young love. From masturbation to abortion. They even had a full one minute song dedicated to masturbation where they actually and visually taught 'how' to do the act. Half of the audience (~females) was giggling. I felt strange. Any guy would have felt weird. But the weirdness had just begun, it was getting pretty intense with every passing moment.

I could get most of the dialogue, but I didn't understand a single word of the songs they sang cuz of too much difference in accent. I decided I shouldn't spend money on musicals and maybe find something serious n dramatic to watch. Because this one was funny but weird.

So, near the end, there is this young couple who come to the center of the stage and show that losing virginity at 16 is not a bad thing. And then they take off their clothes (ewww, though only above waist but still ewww) and have the 'stuff' in the center of the stage where lights are NOT dimmed. They finish in about a minute and near the climax of their 'stuff', lights go out and it ends.

A lot of parents brought their teenage daughters and sons to the show, so that the gap between them could narrow and they better understand the adolescence issues. But I think the parents prolly ended up showing their kids exactly what they had avoided from them all these years. Well, that's the smartness of that sensual play, after your 13 yr old kid goes through it, the kid knows everything.

# The Date
There is another funny event going on in campus which is called 'Speed Dating' where a lot of single people turn up and sign up. They are allotted numbers after that and tags n stuff I guess. Then they meet upto 50 people, each for 3 mins and have a lil date kinda thing. After every meeting, they keep noting the number of the other person if they like him/her. At the end, everyone submits the numbers they would prefer to meet again and submit it to the organizers. The organizers then analyse the data, and 'hook-up' the people whose numbers match i.e. the people who 'liked' each other (yeah the facebook like and not this like)

# The Bath

See? Even your mom likes such baths.
I am exploring the bathing pleasures these days. I always wanted to have those sensual and relaxing baths in a bathtub. There is a big showroom in the mall here dedicated towards "Bath and body works" and they have a variety of bath gels and scents. I am trying bubble soaps and things like "Epsom Salts" which soothe your nervous system and take care of any muscle pain or soreness. 20 minutes of such an enriching experience in a bathtub is something I really look forward to every weekend after an exhausting week. If you're reading this, you can prolly give this thing, at least, one try. There is nothing like floating in a rosy, foamy, scented hot water. I am planning to add candles and some light music in coming weeks.

destroEYEd

I could feel that man's warm breath gently brushing past my right cheek. His exhalation and inhalation were absolutely uniform, his chest rising and falling in a rhythm. The longer his face stayed so close to mine, the higher my uneasiness grew. Not to say about the red light he was shining in my right eye since the past 40 seconds.

Finally he wheeled back on his swivel chair and said, "Hmm, okay the next test now."

I let out a sigh of relief on having my optician off my face and remembered the day it had all begun. It started recently when the letters and numbers on the blackboards of my classes began to blur. I knew I had to get an eye exam but I was delaying until now. After finding the cheapest deal in the city, on which my health insurance gave some discount, I finally had found time to take the eye exam.

All the time I had cursed the healthcare, eye-care and such stuff since it was so costly in US but now when I actually went through the examination of my ENTIRE eye, I was convinced that it was worth the cost. The doctor spend around 45 minutes on me and did a whole lot series of tests which I had never heard of. That's another thing, that this one eye exam has changed a lot in my life.

After a lot of boring and long sessions of guessing my vision defect by showing a hell lot of skewed images, the doctor gave my first shock. He told me that I was suffering from something called "Astigmatism" and till now I have been wearing incorrect glasses. This first shock of being diagnosed with a new disease was subdued when he said that its pretty normal and can be easily corrected by a kind of lenses.

"But when your new glasses with the new subscription come out, you gonna hate me, at least for two days because your vision will be all groggy," the doctor said with a dramatic tone.

I was already beginning to feel that there was something queer about this particular eye doctor and I was sure of it after a few minutes. Because this first shock was nothing compared to the second shock that came and shook me and my life.

After a series of another tests which included dropping stingy and weird liquids in my eyes, he pulled out a large sheet with four technical sketches of a human eye.

"These are the four stages of a human eye. This first one is the normal eye, everybody has it like this. When suffering from a particular disease, the structure begins to change and a person shifts to stage two and then the eye looks like this. The fourth stage, can you see, how distorted that is? That's the final stage of X," he lectured and allowed me some time to grasp and make sense of what he was saying. I also asked some doubts and I made sure I could now answer any question based on those sketches.

Once I had nodded to indicate that I had understood so far and he could now proceed to teach me more, he blurted out the bloody fact,

"And guess what? You're on stage four," he said and watched my face with the most serious look.

"Wh-what? Why? I am suffering from X? But what is this X?" words that left my mouth were staggered and ill-structured.

"X is a disease which slowly leads to complete blindness," he said in a calm tone, just like stating a fact or writing a death sentence.

"B-but it can be cured right?"

"No, X has no cure. But yes, it can be managed," he said with an expressionless face, not allowing me to make any inference from his statements.


I stayed silent for a few seconds and then he filled the silence between us with a smile and some assuring words, "But, but, but, BUT, I said your condition is at stage four it doesn't mean you are diagnosed with X. The good news is your bla bla is quite huge. I mean, its gigantic as compared to normal people. Its very strong. So that bla bla could be the reason why I am getting a number higher than normal. But again it could be X too."


I didn't know whether to feel good or bad. I just stayed silent, my eyes and ears urging to hear more. My heart skipped a few beats and I was breathing fast now. The small room's walls at the clinic were suddenly beginning to crash upon me.

He continued after a pause, "SO, X is very rare at your age of 21. It usually occurs at old age or people having such such diseases. But then it could occur at your age as well, we can't say. Since I don't know your old records and you haven't been ever tested for this before, I can't say whether you have moved from stage 1 to stage 4 over the time - which means you are suffering from X OR you're born with stage 4 and your bla bla large size is giving me higher range numbers."

"S-so what does it mean?"

"It means I will put you under surveillance condition. You will have to get regular eye exams in order to verify whether your number is increasing or not, whether you are indeed moving up the stages or not. If you're not, well then its just because your bla bla is huge and its because of that, so no worries there."

"How often do I need to take a test?"

"Atleast once a year would be adequate. Okay so you're good to go. Anymore questions?" he said and pulled back his chair.

I wanted to ask a whole bunch of questions and have a long discussion with him in which he could assure me that I was all right but then nothing much came to my mind so I stayed blank face.

"Did I confuse you to death with all that jargon and technical terms?" he asked with a mild pity on his lips.

"No, I got it. But you scared me a bit," I said, like making a plea before a judge.

"Well," he hunched up his shoulders in a manner of justifying himself, "I just believe that you should know the truth about your health. You should be in control of your own life."

I exited the clinic, my mind swinging. On my way back, while sitting in the bus, I was looking the greenery and all those pretty sites which I daily see and then thought, "One day, I won't be able to see them?" Fear and worry struck me like it had before but this time the intensity was higher.

Then after a few hours, I remembered all other people in the world and their conditions and their rare problems. And compared to them, I thought, I am nothing. I am not even diagnosed with X yet. I might have it and I will know about that for sure after one year. And even I have it, I can manage it with proper medication. All those people did fight it, right? So I am. I am going to fight it.

Either you can get scared of a situation and hide your face in your pillow and tell n oone about it. OR, you can come out, yell and say, "I am going to fight it."

People like Helen Keller, Lance Armstrong, Stephen Hawking did fight, didn't they? But one thing I have realized today is, its easier to fight off a financial burden and seek success, because you know your financial problems will be taken care of after success and thus you have the right motivation. I am no more in any kind of financial burden, but there were times in my childhood when I lived under a temporary roof that leaked, that's completely another story. But I am saying that its much difficult to fight a medical problem and still do something in your life. Because for a few hours, I had lost complete motivation to do anything in my life. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I wanted to stop running.

But no, I am not going to sit back. I am going to fight it. There will be a post after an year about my results. Either I am clean or am not.  Even if that means waiting for one year for one test I can do nothing about and which will decide my fate, I will fight. I am in control of my life.

Are you?

Freakin' Fridays

I checked the bus timings and my wrist watch one last time before I grabbed my bag and jacket and made a run for the main door. The exit door of the building was a few meters ahead and I had to reach the bus stop within 60 seconds. Because 60 seconds is the time the bus takes to reach the stop closest to my building from the bigger stop where it is scheduled to arrive at 10:11 PM.

I glanced my watch again as I pushed the heavy steel exit door with my tired hands. The minute hand was slightly past 11 minutes and the second hand was moving effortlessly towards the completion of another goddamn minute. The moment I stepped out of the artificially heated structure and stepped on the bare concrete pavement, a cold wind brushed past my ears, reminding me that I had forgotten to employ my jacket's hood. Straggling with my loose bag and flowing jacket, I managed to wear my hood and cover more distance towards the stop.

I saw the bus coming from the other side. It rode the pavement with a considerable effort and engaged itself against me in a 200 meter parallel sprint towards the final destination - the bus stop. I could hear my own cold escalated breath and the crunching sound of fallen leaves beneath my stamping feet. I realized the beginning of fall.

Not much later, about 30 seconds after, I made it to the stop and climbed the bus. The driver nodded and smiled at me in a manner athletes often do after finishing a race. But it wasn't him that caught me off gaurd. It was something else.

It was this strong stench flooded in the bus that caught me and my nostril hair off gaurd. The stench of alcohol. And noises and shrieks too.

Friday, Alcohol, What else? I thought and moved on.

I moved past many shoulders to find a seat at the back side of the bus, where nobody was daring to go and sit and why so, I don't know why. But I came to know the answer of 'why', soon after. The back side was more or less taken by the people who had troubled the olfactory receptors of the sober commuters. Making my way past drunk, shabby haired, half dressed undergrad girls and boys, I found a seat in the corner but before I could find some rest from the sprint I had a minute ago, I found myself talking to a guy who was having a normal Friday.

Guy: Whoa dude, so you been studying?
Me: Uhm, yeah? (I looked at my bag I had now kept in my lap and nodded)
Guy: Wow. You're studying till 10pm on a Friday and am getting drunk. 
Me: Well, no-not really..
Guy:I will be prolly working for you someday. 

Me: huh?

And then he broke the conversation in the same sudden manner he had started it. I took some time to figure the last line he spoke to me and pretended busy in my own thoughts. Then their was a she-friend of this guy, who was talking pictures of herself and her gang and yelling to everyone, "I am 21 and I can drink, how about you?".

I looked at my bag once again and of all those things that I did on this Friday and all those boring things that I will be doing on this Friday night. Then I thought I am 21 too.

But am I living my age? Are we all living our age? Are we living? At all?

bla bla bla - More Graduate Ramble

-I like PhD people. They are really doing some awesome work out there. And when you do a PhD, you stop being stuck to your own field. You use all the possible sciences and fields of engineering out there to make your project work. In PhD, you innovate.

You Engineer.

As of now, I strongly feel like never leaving the academia. Finding new things every day at the cost of a difficult life is one thing and listening to a grumbling boss in a high paying job is other. I will prolly choose the former.

- After more and more visits to HyVee and Walmart, I am exploring a lot of new stuff and beginning to realize that maybe-maybe the food isn't that bad out here. Maybe I have just been eating the wrong stuff. There is so much variety for every single thing, from biscuits to cereals that you can go crazy while deciding what to buy. Let's see how it goes, as of now, frozen food FTW.

I was walking down the supermarket and my eyes stopped at the Asian section. I strolled down and suddenly a packet glared back to me a set of words I never expected to find here. They read "Chicken Tikka - Mumbai Masala". I was like, what the...I stopped as my jaw dropped and I found an entire rack reserved for Indian curries and dishes. They were like "Heat n Eat" in 2 mins.

A whole new world erupted before my desperate tongue.

- Now I understand the meaning and importance of a bright, sunny day. A couple of days back when an American guy, pointing towards the sky, said to me, "Look, how good it is today. The sun is up and its so warm!".

I was like, "Huh? You mean you like days with sun in it? That's dumb. That's full of sweat." But what I actually said was, "Uhm okay, but I like days when it rains and when the sun doesn't come up so that it's all windy-windy". The guy gave me a strange look and went away.

As the winter grows near, I realize why appearance of sun is so important here. That overly used sentence in literature and stories, "It was a bright, sunny day" became suddenly so clear to me. Yeah, that's how it works for me. I learn best by experiencing stuff.

-One of my friends went for Skydiving. I was asked too. But I didn't go. I tried to make all sort of excuses that its too costly and that it will take away my whole day and also its too risky and all that kind of lame excuses. FYI skydiving in short is paying 200$ for 30 seconds of thrill in which thrill is defined by flying down to earth from a height of 10k feet. But when I asked myself, why I didn't or won't go for this thing, I got the answer.

The answer that I am too afraid. Yes, I am afraid. And that fear is part of because of love. When love enters your life, you become conscious and responsible of your own life. You start being careful.

Btw, any of you reading this, should go for this skydiving thing atleast once. And after that you'll get addicted. Statistically speaking probability of an injury is quite less, you can google that.

Like, you like passion?

[Pictures BELOW]

Another weekly post but kinda late. Also, the context in here may be somewhat stale because the photos I am posting down are 1 month old. But the text is fresh and virgin.


Sorry for the abuse of the most famous word "Like" in today's Internet world. That's another story I don't use Facebook. Before I begin the rant, I have 2 lines to share with you, that came to my mind one evening when I was telling my friend that she should not pull her friends to like what she likes, she should rather make new friends in her liking.


You should not like people to like what you like,
You should like people who already like what you like!



I am finding more and more passionate people around me these days. This wasn't the case back home. Here, people are just crazy and devoted towards what THEY like. Not what others like them to like. Like, if they like to like something, they don't like or unlike if their likeness is alike. They just like.


They have passion. Passion, in their likable lives.


You get it? Refer Facebook's Like for deeper understanding of this word. Oh wait, perhaps you already know that. How much hours you spend there?


Anyway, where was I?


If they are passionate about football and like to play football, they will do that for their entire life. They really won't care if they can do math or understand science. Its about football silly. Why need Science?


If they love to ski or pedal in water, that becomes their passion. Below you will find the photos of my small trip to a nearby river on which a lot of people regularly come for spending an evening with their passions.


Point is, the passion. And, the variety too. Its not just about the Engineers and Doctors. Its about something much more than that. Its about passion. About liking. About love.


I might not need to remind you, but you or any sane person knows this very well, that anyone who did well in this world first loved his work and then became something. You got to like, love something. You to pursue something with a mindless and blind faith driven solely by passion. And then you can expect something.


My love is writing. And I am not able to devote as much time as much it is required to liken it to passion. Damn, hate that. So this post is a reminder to myself that I should stay passionate. So, I buckled up and sent in a story for a huge contest. Like it has 3-4k participants, I guess. There is hardly any chance of winning. I will post my story here in 2 months when I hear the results. But winning is not important right now. Participating IS. And that, I AM doing.


Yes, I am.

[Since the large pics screw up my blog template, I am pushing them down. Take a deep breath and scroll down]


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A passionate girl living her life (I watched her for long minutes doing stunts in the water)





A Passionate guy carrying his passion along...


The back of the river and dam.




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How about you? Do you have a passion in your life? What are you doing about it?

The Nightlife

Note: For putting out a post for the sake of maintaining once a week posting rule of mine, I am putting another one of those unpublished drafts lying junk in my drafts folder. It's almost a month old. Reading it again makes me smile.


(Due to a busy Grad life, my blog posts might not be as long as they were in the past. That's another thing that I have time to party and dance whole night.)

So this Village girl takes another step and experiences the Night life of US and immediately falls in love with it. Last night around 10:30 P.M. with a group of 9 ppl (4 guys n 5 gals) I went to the most happening place of the town...

It was a Friday night. The street was full of intoxicating smell of Alcohol and it was littered with young students with loose senses. There were blue and red lights of the pubs and bars scattered all around. Everyone was walking around you in the most sexiest clothes chosen from the most modernistic wardrobes. There were shrieks of laughter in between. Hordes of young boys and girls were disappearing into their respective bars now and then.

I wanted to stay on the street for a while but since many of my group were inclined to drink, we too ushered into a bar. Inside, the atmosphere was same but more concentrated. Concentrated in the odor and density of people. While the rest of the group ordered their drinks, I played two games of pool with two sober people from the group. Oh, I loved pool! It was my first time, and I actually was able to make some shots. Of course nowhere near the people I was playing with.

Once they were all done and high, we planned to a hit another pub which was famous for it's dance floor. We exited and moved on the next one. The crowd was a little more crazy here. There were a few american couples on the dance floor who were doing 'stuff' other than dancing. People were dancing everywhere they could, on tables, couches, poles and occasionally on the floor. I danced my way till 2 AM after which I was exhausted and so were others. Some of our group who still had the extra energy to dance, danced outside the bar in the parking on hindi/punjabi songs sung by themselves ;)

Work hard for 5 days and loose yourself on the Friday night. It's only fair.

Harsh Facts of Grad Life

Hi!

I guess I have painted a too rosy picture before y'all in my previous posts (not that the picture is in fact rosy but there are some (some?) thorns TOO)

Bringing before you another post where I jot down points over a period of time and publish when I feel they are of considerable length.


6th September 10:15 AM I remember talking about technology etc in my last post. But technology can hurt, people ;p I got locked out yesterday. 

Went to drink water outside the office and jarred the door midway using a dustbin so that when I come back I need not swipe card and unlock. Also I didn't want to carry my card or cellphone just for a minute down the corridor. And when I come back, my colleague sort of didn't knew I was out, so he replaced the dustbin and let the door lock and then left. I come back and find myself locked out. It was Sunday, no1 else was in the building. LoL. (Later I found some friends who called the university police and an officer came and helped me break in.)


-7th September, 11:16 PM. I just returned from taking out the huge trash. Yeah my roommates make me do all the labor work since I am not able to do the artistic work aka "cooking". So they cook and I clean.

Simple.

As I exited the warm atmosphere of my house and descended the wooden stairs, a chilly breeze struck my bare arm - bent down by the weight of the trash. I watched my slow steps as I moved towards the giant trash can at the end of the colony. Before I could reach the garbage tank, my eyes fell upon a feline creature that lingered around. Or rather, the feline creature's yellow crescent eyes fell upon ME. Mortified and frozen for a few seconds, I hurled the trash baggage into the air aiming towards the tank that lay 10 metres away. I am not sure where it landed but my feet did land on the stairs to my apartment, seconds later.

(Prolly it was just a stupid cat looking for potential dinner. Grad life gives you fantasy imagination.)

- 9th September, 3:14 PM. I just ate the MAGGI I brought for lunch today. I had cooked it last night and now microwaved before eating. It tasted like shit. Hard frozen from the inside kinda shit. Not that I have tasted real shit. But this thing would have been close.

9th September, 12:11 PM The pain in my neck and back is so much that I am unable to sleep. I have to wake at 6:30 AM tomorrow as well.

11th September 2:21 PM Sometimes (always?) you work on saturdays and sundays.

Nerdy Observations

Following is a collection of my observations of the new things and people around me.

--> Crowd is really hot, hot, hot, hot AND hot here. You can call it TASHAN. Like imba, you know? And not just the girls, the guys are hot too ;) I kinda *love* the summers.

--> People in my town have some weird problem of jogging whole day. No matter what's the time. Early morning or late night or mid-afternoon with a scorching sun on top or evening or any time of day, you always find people jogging around. Whether its the campus or the town sidewalks. There are always hot guys and gals jogging. Nice muscles and abs.

--> If you're new and trying out new stuff at food joints. You will often leave the place cursing, "Damn did I really spend 4 dollars n 35 cents on that shitty thing?" Nevertheless it doesn't stop me from repeating the same mistake the next day albeit over another food item.

--> I swipe my ID card to access the door to my office. Technology? Hell yeah.

--> I just got this email on my official university address. "Hello friends, newcomers, and welcome to another eventful year at X

We, the cabinet of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Ally, Alliance are pleased to inform you that our semester is starting off next Wednesday with our annual Ice Cream Social.  This year it is sponsored by the LGBT Student Services and will begin at 6 PM on the brick outside of the bla bla.  Our first meeting will involve some ice breaking activities, which will take place in a relaxed setting that the Alliance strives to provide for all interaction.


We are excited to meet you!

LoL. Funny eh? (I am planning to go there anyway ;), will be good to see new kinda ppl ;p)


--> Went to a "pool" party today. Only me and my two friends, we three were the only internationals there. And of the entire crowd around and inside the swimming pool, only 3 ppl were wearing clothes ;). Ye sheher nahin mehfil hai...

On Importance of a Teacher...

Life's been too busy around homeworks. Luckily got a little time to share some thoughts today.


In my entire life, I feel that I had this special connection with my teachers. There were some of them which I really didn't like but then there were a few which I really loved. And as for the teachers' side if anyone would go and ask them, their opinions too would be mostly at the extremities. For them either I had been the most careless and dumb student or I had been an exceptional student. Very few will rate me as a 'nice/normal/decent' student.

And in my bachelors degree, there was this thing that used to happen with me every semester. I used to get in the eyes of at least two teachers every semester. Of course one held love and the other held hate for me. And my record of living up to this phenomenon had been pretty consistent. When I came here in US and the semester began, I was again a bit worried and was wondering if this thing will continue.

Somehow, it did. And it didn't.

I "think" I came a quite close getting a bad reputation in front of a teacher but it seems like it never happened. It all just happened in my worried mind. Or it has but the teacher is not showing it. But yes, I "did" come close to another teacher that I think I really love and he in return appreciates my interests too.

He is a retired professor and quite old. He welcomed me in his office like perhaps no other teacher had ever done to me. And those precious minutes spent with him in the past few days strengthened my grip on my dreams. I know I am talking very vague here and not giving you people any specifics of "What, where and why?" But really, I can't. It's the nature of this blog to stay away from facts. Facts are too mundane and boring. I always try to stay away from names and facts and stuff.

It's all about fiction ;)

And yes, where was I? The meetings, the wise advice and some pivotal events in the past few days have really shaped my world the way I wanted it to. Talking with him, I felt overwhelmed at times on seeing his supportive and encouraging nature. I was "so" much reminded of the book "Tuesdays With Morrie" which I finished a week ago. The way I look at teaching, I sometimes feel that it is one of the most noble professions existing out there. But of course it doesn't suit everyone. You need to know a lot and then you need the right method of telling to novices whatever you know. I don't know about the present but yes maybe after 10 or 20 years, when I feel that I *know* enough stuff, I would love to be a teacher.

I would love to inspire, ignite and most importantly *help* students who would be nothing but my own younger selfs seeking direction.

A great teacher, someone to talk to, someone-someone who could understand everything that I have always meant to say, is what I was primary looking for after coming to US. And I guess I have found someone. It's really important to find that teacher in your life. It's not that I have a "guru" of my lifetime. But yes, for this current phase of my life, I have one. Yes, in past I had a series of teachers who played their roles in perfection. But there had been times when I had no one to guide me. Times of darkness, they were.

I see light now. Pure, infinite, illuminating, White Light.

For every Frodo needs a Gandalf
For every Harry needs a Dumbledore

Ramblings of a Graduate Student

I would like to thank all those people who had contributed or played a part, big or small, in my entire journey to US, starting from building a dream and then realizing it. Following are some of the snippets that may give you an idea of the current twist in this crazy life.

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*I wake up one day and realize that I need not cook or cut vegetables or take care of the utensils. Because today is not my turn. Because today my third flatmate has to cook. She's gonna take care of it. And it's amazing. (I finally get some time to blog too, not for long though)
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*My apartment is awesome. With the attached bathroom feature my room looks more like a suite to me. (Especially considering the kinda places I have lived in past ofcourse excluding the _ hostel at _ University ;)
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*The city is so serene and calm and peaceful and still so imba. I just love the crowd (undergrads? xD)
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*I visited the both libraries (University library and Public library in town) on a single day. Seeing those books, smelling their faint odor, touching them as I walked past endless corridors of infinitely long shelves and racks, I was left in a state of awe. It's like I have been waiting for this my whole life. And it's there, right there, so close to me. Existing in a solid, silent and defying manner.

Waiting for me to come. (I remember that how in my past colleges(degree/diploma) I used to hang out in the most desolated fiction shelves/rack of the respective libraries. Among those limited number of fiction books crumpled inside academic libraries I used to look for jewels.

And here, it's a whole new treasure in front of me. I could call myself lucky.
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*When you walk in the road, you feel like a mob lord or perhaps a king too. Any road you traverse, the car will stop 40 to 50 meters before you and give you ENOUGH space to happily cross at any pace you like. Pedestrians are given first preference, no matter what. The driver even smiles at you and nods if you smile back. Sometimes me and a car are stranded in middle of a road, me waiting for the car to pass by and the driver wait inside waiting for me pass by. It's no more like dodging the traffic with your life in your hands back there in home country.

Disclaimer: This does not hold true for entire US(Try this in California, NY or DC at your own risk). Only for small and hospitable towns, in one of which I currently live.
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*The research is no child's play. It's spanned from the most basic to the highest level. Every day I sit at my desk just to understand what's going on. I am supposed to do literature review for a few weeks before I actually get to do stuff by hands. Looking at the equipment and machines in the lab, I can see what an "advanced" country really means. I had been playing with stones and sticks till now. It's time for big toys.
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*There are hell lot of restaurants here with all kinds of food that I have never tasted or heard of. Mexican, Thai, Chinese, American ofcourse ;) and don't remember what else. I aim to taste every thing before I graduate.
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*The buildings @ campus which have been standing in a majestic way since more than 100 years make me stop in my path and wonder aloud. "Is it real?" "Or it's just a dream?"
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*I want to take down all activities offered here. Canoeing? Skiing? Caving? Trekking? Fooling around without purpose?

Bring it on.

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The Fruitless Trip


And so, SOMEHOW I have reached US of A. As I type this, I am well settled in my nice apartment at my overly nice city(perhaps next blog post on this topic). Overall the trip was quite fruitless. I mean it had nothing I had expected from it. Nothing at all when compared to my expectations. Of course it had some weird events on the way but no big fruit in the end. Because I was expecting quite paranormal stuff to happen while I was in mid-air. But naah, no aliens came to hijack the plane. The fairies did not appear out of nowhere. The demons and witches did not stop by. And on the top of it all, our plan didn't hit turbulence and we did NOT crash in some unknown island. We did not get lost.

Duh, pretty fruitless.

The boring life continued and nothing extraordinary happened. Nothing much exciting (except at Chicago where my ticket was declared fraud->see below). I have finally reached a new place and have to do studies etc.

But anyway, I do have a few memories to share with you people. I wish I could write down my entire trip here but I can't because I have slightly forgotten it and also you will get bored. So let me just give you a few snippets of the things I observed.


  1. The Random Terrorist Check Interview.
  2. The Germans
  3. The Chinki Brothers
  4. Chicago from Above.
  5. "Your travel agency is fraud sir, your name is not on the flight."

 The Random Terrorist Check Interview.
I reached the sleek new terminal T3 at New Delhi in time and my parents made sure that I was loaded with clothes and accessories to the maximum so that the bags in my hand won't exceed the baggage limits (which already were exceeding, anyway). I looked around and people and chix were dressed so casually and lightly but I was dressed like a snowman ready to conquer Alaska. I hauled up my 3 bags worried that if people nearby were staring at my clothing (which they totally were) and somehow cleared up with the long line of the people taking the flight with me. I was getting my boarding passes done (I needed 3 of them), only 2 were made yet and suddenly their computer flashed or something and they stamped my two passes and asked me to follow some police lady. I was supposed to be perhaps handed over the third boarding pass from Chicago to my final destination but it didn't happen and I guess that's what responsible for #5. Anyway, so the lady explained to me,

Police Lady (PL): Follow me for the Random check interview of passengers.
Me: Huh?
PL: Everyday 5 or 6 people out of the thousands who travel daily are specially interviewed for security purposes. The computer assigns that.
Me: Uh? But (Face full of sweat and tension now)
PL: Oh its nothing, its nothing. The officer will ask just a few simple questions, don't worry, it's routine.

 And that assurance of her made me doubt this random interview even MORE. True story.

 So I was led into this special interrogation room where already a black man was getting interviewed. They were grilling him why he was carrying 60kg excess of baggage. And I guess he was not cool about disclosing the bags to these people and was trying to leave the airport. I was seated in front of a very stern looking bald Indian officer who began questioning me very sternly.

 He asked me a few of questions like,
"Where to?"
"Why US"
"What for in the univ?"
He was pretty cold in all these questions perhaps because all this time he was busy making all kinds of scratches on my Visa and passport. He was checking the authenticity of every part of my passport. Then,
"Which univ you studied before?"
"Bla blah blu"
"Oh that's a reputed university!" (His tone became a lil casual)

 Then he handed me over my passport and said smilingly,
"Btw, your hair looks like a porcupine, ;)."

I exited the interrogation room with my passport in one hand and hand bag in other with an idiot like grin. This hairstyle and the comment was just the beginning of a new era.

The Germans
When my flight landed at Frankfurt, Germany I had an excited and great time to see the airport for 3.5 hours. I very much intended to shop there. I had bought a chocolate like thingy at the large shopping complex in Delhi airport and now it was a Swiss chocolate that took my heart here at Germany. Also I wanted to shop just for the sake of saying "Yes I have shopped around a few continents…" So all this while roaming around the airport I found the Germans to be quite amusing. These German ladies were all hot and stuff. Redheads, you know? So they were like RED HOT. I had this imaginary conversation with a young hot german lady (YHGL).

YHGL: Qaustro quastro pero.
Me: Quastro quastro you're hot.
YHGL: Quastro quastro this is your first time in a developed country isn't it?
Me: Quastro quastro yes, indeeeeeeeeed. So there are others like you?
YHGL: Quastro quastro indeeeeeed.
ME: Quastro quastro, great, I look forward to more imbaness.

 I left her alone then and wandered around to look for other Germans. There was this Gothic-druggist-gay type young man and he was quite hot too. He could have played a Dracula in any upcoming paranormal movie. But Germans were a bit loud. Not much, but yeah a bit. When I tried to talk to the airport staff when I was searching for my terminals, one german lady kinda told me stuff so loud that everyone around was staring at us or me. Lol.


The Chinki Brothers
I found these two guys from Nepal who were on same route Delhi-Frankfurt-Chicago and we 3 kinda stayed together most of the time. One was the Elder Chinki, 4 years elder to me and was going for some ultra noob university. His and mine major were coincidentally same but when I heard his univ's name I almost asked him "How did you get your Visa approved?". But he was all like in Nepal they are allowing easily this time. And then this Younger Chinki was 4 years younger to me and was going to some unknown university for his undergrad. Wierdos both of them.

 But of course, not weirder than me. ;p

Sample, of course. 

One thing I didn't like about Chinki brothesr was that in middle of our conversation they often started using their native language and I was all left like, "Huh wtf are you saying ppl," and then it came to their minds after a few minutes that they should speak in hindi. Their English sucked badly. When I say badly I mean even worse than mine. Now you can judge yourself.

 But the thing I liked about them was their love for Bollywood. They could praise it endlessly. Even on the plane out of the 30 or so top Hollywood movies, they chose to watch the only one available Bollywood movie (some flop one) on their entertainment centers. And on this flight, they were sitting apart and still they watched exactly the same movie. I was like "LoL, how could you watch it.." And they were like, "Oh it was so funny!" and continued their praise for Bollywood. They also told me how expensive the dollar was for them because their rupee was quite weaker to the Indian rupee. If my ticket was for 50k rupees their's was for 75k :O

It happens rarely but that time I felt proud of being an Indian.


Chicago from Above
While aboard I tried to sleep most of the times or read my book. I partially watched the movie "How to train your dragon" and I found it pretty cool. Some of the scenes were so mesmerizing and analogous to the view outside my window (I had window seat yay :D) Like in the movie the kid was exhilarated driving his dragon so I too clapped in excitement when I saw the thin wings of the plan slicing through the huge clouds. It was like wafting over mountains of cotton or perhaps snow. And when we neared Chicago as our plane began to descend, I was able to see those huge sky scrapers of the city. They looked so majestic. I wanted to write the description of the aerial view of the city then and there only. One line that I formed in my mind was something like this,

"The skyscrapers were pieces of tall, cold steel on the face of flat, warm earth."

Then I nudged my Elder Chinki brother and said, "Hey see the view outside! Wow! the buildings!" He gave the most dispassionate and not-interested brief glance and resumed his preparation for the landing. I was all like perhaps he too being a civil engineer might like the view outside and understand my feelings for the structures. I was all crazy on seeing those huge structures. But this guy clearly wasn't. He had a lot of issues actually.

Like the entire time, he wore his seat belts. LOL. And when the plane landed or took off he used to hold the side handles of his seat and sit up straight. I was like, "C'mon, we won't die so soon."


"Your travel agency is fraud sir, your name is not on the flight."
Till I reached Chicago the trip was quite awesome and I had a nice time making fun of everything and everyone around me. But after seeing me act like a smartass for a long time, the God guy gave my life a little twist. Yeah a LITTLE twist. I had around 3 hours at Chicago airport to catch my last connecting flight out of which more than 1 hour was wasted at the Customs line where I nearly escaped nabbing by a lady and her smelling doggy. The smelling small doggy was moving around the line and sniffing everyone's bags. He passed mine and I got a sigh of relief but the Elder chinki guy's bag made him stop wagging his tail so there were some problems. I don't know what happened later with his cuz at this point, our paths had diverged.

Then I checked in my bags for the next flight and when I reached the counter to Check in MYSELF, here's how the convo between me and a rude bald American guy went:
Guy: Which flight you are on? (Scanning my passport)
Me: The UA@#$ at bla bla to bla bla..
Guy: Nope, you are'not.
Me: Huh? But my e-ticket has #$%@$#@$ $ @#$
Guy: I am looking at the ticket in the computer and you have no such booking sir.
Me: I booked through MAKEMYTRIP guys and how it is possible??
Guy: Your travel agency is fraud sir, your name is not on the flight. Sorry you need to redo the whole thing and go to terminal 1.

He returned my passport and disappeared. At that very moment, all the fun and excitement vanished in thin air. I was like, "Ohkay, now you're getting to me, USA" So it was like, my baggage was already sent to the next flight BUT I wasn't. So I ran here and there and finally found a special counter where people could address their problems. A long queue was there and I somehow got my boarding pass made and entered the flight just 5 mins before they closed gates. I think it was probably because of the event that happened at the Delhi airport.

All sweaty and tired and full of jet lag and thirsty as I finally sat on the domestic plane, I grabbed what they offered me shortly afterward. I opted for some can of Apple and Cranberry juice with an empty glass full of crushed ice. It was refreshing. After a few minutes I noticed it had "Cocktail" written all over it. I thought I had tasted alcohol kinda thingy. So I asked the American sitting next to me,

"This isn't beer right?"

He laughed at me and said that it was just juice.


I was like, "Ohkay, anyway I have taken too much stuff upon myself today. So whatever."



    Why Religious Gurus are essentially Marketing Geniuses? My Encounters with one of a kind…

    So as I write this on a shaky keypad of my cute Dell mini-laptop, I am returning back to my beloved village from a short journey to another village in our rickety and ‘only four wheeler’ which could be considered as a car. I love to write while travelling. Besides I am eager to share and write down whatever stuff happened with me this fine morning.

    Just an example what I mean by Indian Saints
    So as I was counting my final days in my beloved country while penning down my expectations for the new land that I am going to see, my parents, my mother essentially, began all this new drama of seeing all my relatives for the last time (I am not even sure if I remember the names of all those people I meet which are somehow related to me by blood) and seeing and worshipping all our ancestral religious gurus or babas or monks or saints or whatever you call them man. They are all same to me.

    So it all began yesterday morning when my dear mommy was all,

    Hey, you have only few days left here, and-
    Yeah, I know. Tell me something new ;p,” I cut her in hoping she would forget to complete her sentence.
    Shut up, you’re being too rude these days. And I was saying, that in the last few days, you should go and meet all our Guru’s and saints which our ancestors have been worshipping since decades or something and bla bla bla (This is where I lost track of what she was saying as I dug deeper into my favorite comic strip, Garfield, in the newspaper – I read newspaper only for those comic strips, y’all) and bla bla, so tomorrow morning at 6 A.M. we are leaving for this this village where this big big saint has come and we must pay a visit and seek blessing for your safe life ahead in US and so that you also don’t get spoiled by their modern culture etc and you should be thankful that you got VISA so easily by their grace…
    Huh? At 6? What? Why? But? So early? Saint? How? I don’t wanna go. Please keep me out this stuff,” I tried to make a sad face but failed.

    Then we kinda argued for a minute or two cuz that’s the max you can argue with mothers after which they use their ace cards and you are just left with no option but to agree. So she threw down the following two cards on the table and I was as usual “Ah-k-lets-go-whatever-wherever-mom

    Card #1: She won’t pack my travel bags (OmG!)
    Card #2: She will brand me as an unfaithful daughter who has left her home and family values etc etc permanently. (Duh)

    I really didn’t care about Card #2 but man, Card #1 was sortof killer and I had to agree. I don’t know shit about packing or shopping or cooking so I always leave it to the elder ladies. Elder Ladies are good at these things. And that could be a weakness. Or a strength. Depends on how you look at it.

    So anyway, next day early morning I am forced out of bed quite early while my mom is all ready and neat and eager to go. Then I am forced to bath too. And all other daily chores, like combing my hair and breakfast n stuff. Somehow, I am ready to leave on time. Even though our driver was a tad late but mom had made sure that we were on time. When we sat in the car and began the eventful journey, a wave of sour saliva swept across my tongue.

    I swallowed. I smiled.
    Forgot to brush. Nice.

    Then, nothing much happened on the 2 hour journey by road to another village where the saints were supposed to be having a stay at their own imba fortress kinda thing. Except the fact that the entire journey I spent sleeping and my pious and anxious mother spent the two hours making sure that the roads were all right, other vehicles on the road were all right and that our car was all right, and everything in general around her was all righty-right. I often tell her on such occasions,

    Dear mommy, leave this job to the driver. You should just relax at the back seat with your eyes closed.”
    But she’s all, “No! Drivers etc know nothing! We ourselves have to take care of everything and all.”
    But only THE driver can access the accelerator or break, mom
    But uhm? Still! Duh, shut up,” as she raises her hand and kinda scares me by her false slap action.

    So we reach this place, (I will try not to go into facts and names, after all I don’t want an entire community, a rather big one, on my ass for this post) and it looks serene and quite cool but heavily guarded with men. Just like a fortress. Only difference that soldiers’ weapons here were smiles and bows and greetings which they showered upon any stranger who might dare enter their fortress. And so they fired on us all those sweet weapons they had, especially after they came to know that we had come from a big village which is kinda quite famous in my state. You feel like a celebrity when you come from the biggest village of your state. You can spam everywhere you go and say, “I come from THERE” And they are like “woaah…”

    Sorry for all you people who were born in towns and cities and metros, maybe better luck next life.

    Example of Namaste. Also, your weekly dose of hot chix-pix.
    We move upstairs to find the holy saint missing from his humble throne and a lot of other devotees like us gathered and bent down around his throne. We sit there for a while, (my mom with hands clapped together to form a Namaste – a gesture of prayer, I holding the book I am reading these days – ‘Every Second Counts’ by Lance Armstrong) but when my mom snatches away my reading book and asks me to imitate her worshiping position, I kinda get pissed and eventually restless. So after a minute or more of the waiting for the Saint who hasn’t yet appeared, I escape the hall by giving an excuse that I urgently need to pee and I actually go downstairs to explore out the fortress.

    As I was happily skipping down the narrow stairs, I saw a large man all dressed in white with a long, long beard wearing maalas around his neck coming up. He was coming up in my going down lane/direction of the stairs and I was half way down the stairs while he had just landed the first starting step and considering my double speed, technically, technically, he should have shifted to the side to save the collision from occurring. But he didn’t as if he was like the king of this fortress and so we stood face to face with he staring right into my eyes as he said in a tone more cold than curious,

    Where are you from?” he asked, recognizing that I was new here.
    Um? Bhathinda,” I blurted out my village’s name but not with the kind of pride I usually do.
    What’s your name?
    Tanya Singhal,” I answered after a few seconds of pause as a crooked smile spread upon my face.
    huh? Uh-oh, huh?” he grumbled and felt confused and shifted away from the stairs to make way for me and left for the hall upstairs.

    Sample pic of bread pakoras.
    I explored out the fortress a bit and found it kinda cool and calm place to hang out. And then finally found the open kitchen where they actually gave FREE FOOD to all those who came there and so I joined the queue with an empty plate in my hand. There weren’t plenty of options to choose from but there were some. So considering the fact that my mom would be waiting for me upstairs with perhaps a false cane in her hand, I quickly placed some Bread Pakoras with a nice Chutney(Sauce) in my plate and began to munch and gobble it down. I sipped down a hot tea before I left for the hall upstairs.

    C’mon, don’t you look at me like that, I was hungry. Besides, it was free.

    But as I was just putting down my plate before exiting the kitchen, my mother had come all looking for me and she was all like, “Stupid, you are sitting here eating and up there Mr. Saint has come and he’s looking for you and all how careless you are and all and bla bla” So before I could crack up some excuse she takes me up by hand and donates a hundred rupee note ($2 essentially) to the donation box at the exit of the kitchen. Perhaps this was her gratitude towards the nice kitchen people whose services her daughter had enjoyed just now. And silly me, I was considering it as free food all the time. I was about to ask her, “Since we had now kinda paid for it, could I have lil more?” but then I preferred to keep my mouth shut cuz my mother was really looking angry at that moment.

    And SO, I finally get to see the Saint sitting on his throne with a dozen or so people bent down before his feet. I realized that this Saint was actually that stairs guy I met before while going down. Now I understood that awkward bump in the middle of flight of stairs. He was perhaps expecting me to fall in his feet in those stairs and give him the way by going all the way back upstairs etc. And since I didn’t, he gave me those weird looks. But then I thought, what the heck, even if I knew it was THE Saint guy in the stairs, I would have acted the same anyway. True story.

    So as the entire crowd there were on the knees with their hands in the Namaste formation, I stood straight smiling at the Saint, my hands stuffed loosely in the side pockets of my shorts (My mom always wants me to wear pants whenever we have to go out but I just prefer shorts and that’s another point of quarrel but then that’s totally another story).

    (I think I am going too much slow, I will now fast forward to the part where the post should justify its title). Little Background: This Saint is kinda our family saint and so knows all the children and family members by NAME. He also knows me and has met me 3-4 years before and still remembers my real name, it’s just I who have forgotten him or his name. 

    RULE No.1 for Marketing: Always KNOW your clients. If you can CONNECT with the name and family of your customers, your business CAN run.

    So after he made me sit down close to him and finally after an awkward minute of silence (in which I was supposed to bow down and rub my forehead in his feet just like others), he placed his hand on my head and kinda forced it down so it appeared to his followers that I was bowing down. I totally wasn’t, y’all. And here’s an excerpt of the convo that followed,

    I have tried to summon you here a lot of times but you never came, huh?”, he said and named all those religious classmates and cousins and peers who had in the past 3-4 years had at times informed me every six months or so that Mr.Saint is currently in this this village and he was very much inclined to see me. But of course, I usually ignored them and spent my life without religion or spirituality.

    I merely smiled and kept looking back at him while he told me that I should follow that that norms of this this particular region. And that I should stay away from bad company or non-veg etc in US. In between my mom would add a reply on my behalf saying, “Yes, yes she is a very good girl. She does and will continue to follow all these norms,” She was quite worried that the Saint might just impose a curse on her daughter for her arrogance or perhaps summon a fireball from his staff to punish her careless daughter.

    Then he asked me for my full name and gave a weird look when I told him my real name. And he was all like, that I should change my surname to the surname specified by the norms of THE religion. And I was like, “Yeah sure.” (I should now cancel my flights, submit my passport for renewing my surname, wait for a few months to get it done, defer my admission for next year and then I will be good bcuz I'll be following the surname norms) I assured him again, “Yeah sure.”

    Rule No.2 for Marketing: EXPAND your business. Ask your very clients to carry your company’s NAME ahead. It works.

    Then he took me to a secret room away from all the crowd as the people were left behind whispering, “Oh-oh this girl is going to amreeka-shamreeka, Guru ji will be giving him special power or wish." There he pulled me awkwardly closer to his half naked body and began to place in my hands a series of sacred items whose descriptions he gave one by one,

    Sacred Maala
    These are very sacred and very costly maalas/chains which you should wear around your neck all the time and chant this mantra 51 times on each bead/crystal of it before going to bed. Then these are very important cards on which our sacred sayings are written, you should paste them everywhere in your new home in US. And try to distribute these to your friends so that other lost souls too can follow the path of god and righteousness. And bla bla (as usual here I lost track of what he was saying, as I was marveling at the huge pillars and pedestals of the fortress Saint lived in) and bla bla, keep these cards safe, don’t loose them. Only hand them out to other worthy people like you.”

    Rule No.3 for Marketing: Hand out your Visiting CARDS as if they are not just pieces of paper but so sacred and important that the fellow holding them in their hand should feel immensely LUCKY.

    Pure marketing I call it. In the name of religion and spirituality, of course. What do you say?

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