Monday, September 04, 2006

3 weeks in the USA, what could that mean? A little americanized self, perhaps...

Firstly, the jet lag's gone. Atleast everyone else expects so. This doesn't mean much except that I don't feel asleep at 1000 / 1630 hrs. I wake up quite early though only to find breakfasting on cereals and milk is just about the best decision than go through the trouble of deciding between fixing a cheese sandwich or popping in a bagel, which by the way are horrible options and have gradually evolved (by natural selection, I suppose) over time to being acceptable.

To say the least, my food had the first tinge of americanization though. I have finally thrown myself to these veggie varieties of grills, subs, burgers, pizzas... and have already have a personal order of preference among them. My face lights up when I go to that chinese place to eat the coveted veg. fried rice. I go abruptly admist work to catch up on frens at the coffee place and keep choco cookies in my drawer to pop one in when no one's watching. Lunches, I usually have them outside beacuse I don't feel so energitic to cook in the mornings after such an american breakfast. With the first half of the day is american with respect to food habits, we cook indian at nights to bring back the nostalgia, where we used to eat without even having to cook. Funny sometimes.

Ofcourse, you can't have a problem with the food if you have to survive here. That way you can't have a problem with a lot of things like traffic patterns, underdressed people, Men's Room showers in the gym, the Foot-Pound-Second system of measurements, Usage of Tissues, automatic doors... and a lots more... well, improving at all of them with varying degrees of success...

One more thing is that people spend a lot of energy on staying fit. Everybody seems to have a keen sense of fashion, almost every body is dressed well to suit their moods and the wheather. I am believing in updating my wardrobe to a more neo-american theme from the stereotyped indian dressing of t-shirts and jeans with sneakers all day. But, if you wipe out the option of wearing T-shirts and Jeans, you need a lot of creative overflow to just cover the body. Let's see how that goes!!! By the way, not surprisingly enough, men here don't have much options even here... To start with, I bought myself a NCSU cap and a set of goggles as a declarative style statement ... am thinking of wiggling around with my hair a little bit too.

I, self-consciously put on an accent when I have to speak to foriegn people and try to avoid accented speech to indians. Speaking to indians in an accent is second most corniest thing you can ever do. The first most would be actually to listen to an indian talk in an accent (Sometimes, you are left with no choices).

My improving traffic sense is ofcourse a hallmark of this successful transition. I no longer bump into on-coming pedastrians while walking on the left of a side walk, no opportunistic running across the seemingly empty road, always look for the zebra crossing and all that... still needs some practice before I can successfully get through a complete day without getting honked at for traffic indiscipline. And always always wait till every gets down before boarding the bus. Must say, I am making the grade already...

In a way, life is just happenning when I busy handling the two prominent transitions of "Back to College" and "Caught in a Strange Land".

At work, obviously everyone's attitude has changed to "okey, you are not new anymore" ... and they start talking with this nerdish delight about doing this and that - "Hey, remember the thing i told you to do next the last time we talked, well, do that first, while i go through once again to check if the thing you are working on now is ok or not ... by the way don't do the other things already" . Even I struggle to find clues in his speech to impose over myself a deliberate responsibility - commonly called "work".

The other side of the coin is becoming weightier too... the classes have begun at full pace. I am running around the campus - to the lecture halls, the libraries, to work on the assignments, and to catch something to eat, and then submission of the same and then over to my desk to download and print the lecture notes, to talk to the professor regarding any difficulty... - phew! I am tired.

I sit in a nextgen classrooms with no blackboards, and the light switches on as the lecturer walks in, sometimes the lecturer even is not there and we have a plasma TV beaming the lecture. The library is completely electronic. You just go to the counter, hover the book around and it senses and registers that you have borrowed the book. No staff and no waiting lines where you have to senselessly face someone else's back for no fault of your own. (In India, one gets to do this a lot - Dunno how fun was it) . No problem when you miss a lecture, just download and watch. All lectures are put up on websites and your laptop gets instantly gets wirelessly connected to the internet anywhere in the campus...

But the infrastructure is one thing. There are some really good teachers who are very friendly, and are more desperate to teach than me to learn. They invite to come over to just chat. They listen to you and the backgrounds, and the ideas. The belief that the learning is a 2 way process is so ingrained. And the research team is serious in a informal way. Its not like L&T where one who presents is the one who's taken to task for the stuff going wrong with the company, the world and the Iraq war. And they are excellent public speakers, all of them. Be it students, teachers, researcher there is a lot of stress on expressing one self. And for communication. Ofcourse, this attitude explains that the success of the western society is in its inherent ability to strive to communicate effectively and share information.

And this is a country where "time" is a more popular religion than any other faith systems. Most people are clocked to perfection. Strange, in an indian context but true.

Admist a heightening peak of academic and research commitments, the coin's always being flipped and landed on one side or the other... I wish there could be a 3-sided coin with "idleness/fun" being the third face...what are the chances? Anyway, does this all mean that I am sitting with an expressionless facing trying to straighten a rupturing relationship with my textbook or shock-staring my computer to the extent that it stops responding as a sign of e-protest or something ... that should be quite self-flatterring but that was never the case with me. - I still listen to great deal of music, sing loudly, go over interesting stuff to read, playing 3 sports - Racquet ball, table tennis and badminton, talk all night debates with friends over the weekends on non-concerning issues, sit down on the bed munching chips and missing home, go out to the scenic lake johnson when its about to rain or trek the forbidden areas around lake raleigh if that suspicious road secretly leads to India (That day it didn't. One of those days you feel you are just not lucky enough)... and yeah!!! Grad school fun is a sort of different from the undergrad life.

And not to forget the kitchen adventures and my experiments with cooking. One gets a lot of cartoon stories there. But one thing I discovered about myself is how much I enjoy cooking. I cook everytime I can, and almost everyday. Be it - Lemon Rice or tomato baath or aloo fry (Which by the way turned out fabulous yesterday), vegetable pulao/biryani, or jeera rice or dal, rasam, sambhar, egg fries and curries with exotic masalas, daddhojanam ... done that all... and committed to making vegetarianism the most popular fad after body piercing & tattoo, Gangsta Rap & Mini-Mini Skirts...

I sign off ... and am heading toward the university (Bragaw Hall) mess when for a mere $6 one gets to eat his heart's content . Just imagining the menu there - with all those ... fruit salads and chocolate sauce, freshly boiled soft corn and broccoli, sandwiches, french fries, Mexican specials, desserts, juices any damn drink you want... Well, my stomach is motivating me to end this post...

1 comments :

The Regular Joe said...

Your new-found fetish for cooking bothers me.

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