Not so springy Spring

alone, america, college, Friends, philadelphia, walk

Yes, I am late. Yes,  I had 19 post ideas, all of which are now forever lost in the bottomless pit of my memory. They may resurface someday,  and I may write a version of it, but it won’t be the same. So loss is a loss is a lost loss.

For now,  I am going home. Walking home at an odd time makes everything seem weird. The familiar scenes are missing : no deserted sidewalks, no night-piercing harsh brightness of police lights, no national flags furiously fluttering in the evening wind and invoking unsettling and atavistic feelings of belonging (or otherwise), no drunks asking for change. All that, and you have to squint while walking, for the sun shines bright and proud these days. And for most people it seems to be a joyous occasion. Clothes come off, running shorts are worn, children, dogs,  and strollers are procured, and lawns occupied. Love assumes a pathogenic quality as it spreads across the populace, consuming everyone in its way, making them susceptible to warm display of affection and general friendliness.

So why am I going home?  Because fuck this. There are far too many happy people in love on campus. And I think I’d rather be alone now. Well, not like I have much of a choice in that anyway.

I never liked the sun much anyway.

Si

P.s. I assembled my own computer a few weeks ago. Like most things in life, events rushed in the opposite direction of what was planned, and I had more than one urge to kick my monitor screen. But I am pleased to report that HAL-zero is up and running, and makes for fantastic company.

image

Must get a pc table soon though.

Kitty in the discotheque

alone, america, college, Life, philadelphia

Greetings of the new year. And Christmas too if you are in Russia, Serbia, and other countries which insist on flipping their calendars differently.

My love affair with everywhere
Was innocent why do you care

I have been meaning to write. A lot. Over the last few months, far too much has transpired which I would have been more than happy to share. I have also cracked jokes which no one has laughed at. And I have stared on with a blank expression as everyone around me laughed. Clearly my love affair with humor in this country is going to be a  slow one, and more courtship is required. Speaking of courtship, I have either become very unattractive, lost my game, or am doing something horribly wrong. Those could be the possible reasons why I am yet to actually have a conversation with a woman here.

A single woman in Philadelphia that is. Of which there are three! I am certain.

And lastly, the postcards! My pièce de résistance. 80 plus cards, 40 plus women, 4 continents, 8 countries, 16 states, 20 cities, 250 roads, 3000 pit stops, and other such  impressive statistics. I am extremely proud of the fact that I managed to send them across to as many people I could think of. People who were important, and needed to thanked, social capital to be retained, and ancient oaths to be reminded of. Mostly thanked. Whether you read this or not, I am exceedingly grateful all of you exist, and occasionally put up with me. Thank you. And If I have missed out on sending you one, its either because I did not have your address, or I ran out of money. Could be both. But  I am seriously broke now. And exhausted with the English language. I am doubting my ability to string together half-meaningful words. Short this shall be.

My what a good day just to let it slide
I’d like to say we did it for the better of

I turned 27 today. Well, yesterday according to Indian Standard time. But January 7th is ending as I write this, and I feel a familiar sense of relief that follows the birthday. I have disliked birthdays for as long as I can remember, even though my reasons have evolved over time. So let me take you through it as quickly as  possible.

A long time ago, on January 7th of the year Nineteen Hundred and something, everyone forgot my birthday. Everyone. My dad woke up, went to work. My mum sent me to school. School went by normally. When I came back, my grandmother did the usual;hit once, feed twice (you know, the grandmotherly stuff). In all fairness, my grandmother didn’t know how old she was, or when she was born, so I wasn’t expecting her to wish me. My aunt came over as usual, and I even asked her the date as she was leaving. “7th of January it is” she said. “Seventh eh?” I must have asked. She nodded and walked away. I remember walking up to a dog, and telling him it was my birthday. He too walked away. And that was it.

That evening, I raised hell. Six types that too. Objects were hurled, things were said, love questioned. And to everyone’s discomfort, I wasn’t very quiet about it either.

I thought about it and I brought it out
I’m motivated by the lack of doubt

Every single time I narrate this incident, most people focus on the forgetting part and ‘aww’ it away. But the most crucial incident is what followed. Either one year (or one week) later, my parents decided to throw a party. My house doesnt throw parties, nor does it celebrate anything. In fact, my house isn’t very used to the idea of guests either.  There is enough furniture in my house to accommodate 15-20 people. But my father prefers sleeping on the floor, or is cleaning it. My mother is constantly in motion, and the kids are never there. So the only thing sitting in my house is the furniture itself. You get the point. Therefore, in retrospect I deeply appreciate the effort they must have gone through to bother inviting people. And that is when it happened. Surrounded by 20 people, all singing and cheering, I realized something which has stuck with me for a very long time; I hated it. I truly did. I felt immense disconnect from whatever was happening, and simply wanted to be alone. And so it has been for every birthday since.

But that was then. Now I just get depressed on my birthdays. I really wanted to write about that today, but even thinking about it is very upsetting. So I am going to let it slide.

My what a good day for a walk outside
I’d like to get to know you a little better baby
God knows that I’ll really tried

Meanwhile, in 2016, the weather has been fabulous. Thanks to climate change and other myriad reasons, the infamous east coast winter is yet to descend upon me with wanton intensity. Barring a few ball-freezing nights, the weather have been very nice; nights are cold and chilly, and days are sunny and walkable. I have of course spent all of this time, in one position, on my couch, discovering the joys and secrets of Netflix. God I love it! I am making up for all the missed pop-culture from the last 3 months, and some more. Strangely enough, there is a certain joy of watching movies you have paid for. I feel like such an adult!

Apart from that, I have spent the entirety of my break eating, going to new places in the city to eat, and not eating through the day just to make space for a voluminous dinner. So that. Netflix. Food. Occasional Walks. And done.

Oh yes! Museums. I went to a few museums. Saw them Monets, and them Renoirs, and them Goghs. As cool I may want to sound about all this, it did blow my mind. I never imagined I would be this close to seeing the originals. But here I am, and perhaps I will visit the museum in secret soon. And do the sit-on-the-desk-and-look-at-the-painting-what-does-it-say-to-you-son?

You don’t form in the wet sand
You don’t form at all

You don’t form in the wet sand
I do Yeah

And finally, the panic. I haven’t panicked this much since, well, ever. You know how you think you get into an Ivy league college and then you are sorted with the self doubt issues? Okay, that may not even be a thought about thing. But you know;

Step 1: Ivy league

Step 2: Education, and all things wonderful

Step 4: Profit

So….not really. I am applying for a summer internship. And even though it is a straight forward application process and the people seem nice,  I am vigorously shitting Olympic-sized bricks. I have edited my CV 5 times already, and even sent it to some to check the font! The bloody font! However, in the brief waking moments when I am not exuding nervousness, I am amazed at how worried I am about this opportunity. Its very unlike me to worry about things unless there is ‘a coin in the washing machine’,’left the stove on’, or even a rare ‘no fresh sheets’ involved. The fun domestic stuff. And that’s when it hits me; this is probably the first time in my adult life, that I have seen and identified something I truly want. The work they do, is the sort I would want to  do for a very long time. And the only thing I have ever wanted to do over a long period of time is to not die.

So this is progress. Welcome news indeed. I shall try my best to not fuck it up. And submit it on time. And not pick my nose when nervous.

I am tired now. It has been a long day of avoiding calls, responding awkwardly to wishes, and trying my best to be asocial. I shall reward myself tomorrow by attempting to bake bread. Following which I shall attempt to break bread.

GOD I ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY THAT!!

Bye.

My what a good day just to let it slide
I’d like to say we did it for the better of

46 kgs and above

alone, america, study, travel

I begin to write this just as the plane is about to take off.  That makes me the only douche to whip out his laptop before being airborne. Also, I think this post should have been written at the airport, en route to the airport, while packing, while considering when to pack, while having a very emotional conversation with my parents about upholding perfectly acceptable family values and exercising sound financial judgment. Writing would have been preferable to all of the above. While being fairly necessary, all of the aforementioned activities happened to be significantly depressing, and sufficiently discomforting. Except packing. Packing I hate. And the hatred stems from very dark and unexplored depths of my heart, mind, soul, and kidneys.

This should ideally be divided into two parts; first chronicling the entirety of my experiences in feeling immense love from people around me, how uncomfortable it made me, the sadness of leaving teary-eyed parents back home, and the second one hating packing. But since I am told that flights with alcohol are entertaining and you can watch movies for free, I am going to conflate the two and make the most of my time here.

To finish off the people part first. I met a lot of people in the last 240 hours. I love these people. I grew up with them, in a manner of speaking. I have made memories with them, in a manner of literally. They seemed genuinely sad that I was leaving. They expressed it in a lot of words, and hugs. That was touching. Tears were shed and I did cry once. Okay, twice. And this was just Delhi! Bombay was like a drug induced emotional roller coaster. See. Pack. Meet. Pack. Greet. Pack. Goodbye. Pack. Done.  *Insert heavy doses of melancholy  between every stage.

And that was the humane part.

Then there are my diabolic bags.

I am carrying two suitcases. Two whole i-am-moving-to-another-country-I-have-indian-stamped-all over the contents-bags.  And that makes me very sad. I am yet to be hit by the fact that I am actually leaving my country, for another country, for a long time, to do stuff which I may fuck-up. And all of this I have no real control over. I mean sure I can work hard and have a higher chance of not-fucking up, but you know what I am talking about right?  In that case, I would like to believe that the only thing I could have any say in would be what I decide to take with me when I make this transition. Simple right? I sure as hell thought so.

Apparently, it is far more complicated than that.

Packing involves very real and nuanced decisions. Decisions about what is it that you own/will purchase, that you truly value enough to carry with you. Why do you need to carry it? Can this really not be substituted by anything else that markets provide there? Is being economical the only reason for this concerted effort to cram in every last bit of allowable weight (this is true.  I wish you could see the complicated calculus applied to weight division, optimal spread of objectionable food products, and the ideal response strategy when confronted by amused customs officials), or is there a nostalgia associated with all that you carry? I don’t know. My mother thinks that the Americans, with over 300 years of Independence, are yet to figure what ought to constitute a decent meal. This is clearly not true. I hope.

Packing becomes an additional headache, when it assumes the form of a community problem. Consensus building measures are therefore required to arrive at a societally acceptable list of things which represent; all that you need, all that you are, all that you will be; food wise. Needless to say, there is a mass mobilization resources to ensure creation of commodities which markets can’t provide for. Or can they?

Why do I have a problem with this? I don’t really, as long as you do it with you own bag. I do appreciate the concern, I really do. I also acknowledge the appreciation of my financial constraints as a student, the idea of convenience, and a need to create a familiar space in an otherwise alien environment. All of this is fine and perfectly acceptable. However, this comfort is slightly disconcerting  for me. A friend of mine (two of them in fact) commented how my luggage weighed about the same as them! Apart from the fact that I have way too many thin friends, it disturbed me that I was carrying enough to constitute an entire person. An actual person! How does this not bother anyone that you need (absolutely need) to carry enough to make another person? The amount of baggage  you carry, in my opinion, should always be non-tangible. This is far more important than the tastes you crave. At least to me, food is replaceable, convenience and maneuverability isn’t. The less you carry, the less you are responsible for.

Now all of this could be because I genuinely worry about cleaning the stuff I own, actively avoid responsibility, and would like to live with as little as possible. I also like the feeling of walking out of an airport with nothing but a bag-pack and a sliver of smugness. Just slightly.  Oh also! Another reason I feel uncomfortable with all of the preparation for foreign travel is the inherent disdain and inferiority associated with the culture of the destination country. While I am not qualified to comment on the objective ranking of any culture or society, to say that an entire people have no culture or lack culture simply because it is not similar to yours is downright unacceptable.  And food becomes the vanguard of manifesting this belief, that if you are retain your source-culture, always remember where you come from. Never forget. And not forgetting may involve both passive provision of source materials, as well as active avoidance of new experiences.

I may just hate this new country. I may come to love it. I have no idea. But I may as well give it a chance, eat new food while my body allows it, and add to my list of lived experiences. I wont be 26 and in a new country again. Ever. And if I am going to be here and now only once, I don’t want to be eating that which I grew up on. I’d rather eat more and feel more. And if I can ever reach a stage where I can realistically even compare different foods, cultures, and societies on some common parameters, I would have a good story to tell.

Meanwhile, strange things have begun happening on this  flight. I have kids in front. Abhay deol is in an air safety video. So is Rajeev Khandelwal.  Everyone on the crew looks positively disinclined to the idea of smiling, and I am fast hurtling into a long night (from east to west) towards my first jet lag. Someone just ran across the aisle yelling for a doctor. Apparently a passenger is ill. I hope it isn’t anything serious. I am still in Bombay, and it seems, will be for a while.

Si

PS (0210 hrs): My bags weighed 48 kgs in all, and I was let off with a knowing look from a very ambivalent lady behind the counter. She probably clears far too many students carrying that extra kilo of Indian sweets.  Also, my plane didn’t take off for another 50 minutes.

PPS (0244 hrs): The plane still hasn’t taken off. Now I am worried about the health of the person in question.

PPPS (0258 hrs): Overheard from an elderly gentleman: a child with malaria was brought onboard. His fever went very high and started convulsing, and hence the clamour for a doctor. Thankfully (and the first part is legit) it happened before being airborne, otherwise the flight would have to be diverted to save the child’s life, and the plane would have had to dump all its fuel, since (apparently) it can’t land with a full fuel tank. This may not be the best time to point out that the gentleman saying this seemed just a little bit too excited about saying  ‘offload fuel tanks’ and ‘divert flight’. Mansplaining at 3 in the morning 🙂

I am glad the kid is okay though. And now we fly. And now I end. Bye.

PPPPS: I saw it! I fucking saw it!

My seat was uncomfortable, and the jack for the headphone slot was loose. So I watched three movies back to back with my thumb holding the headphones in place. And as I was about to drift into a rather uncomfortable sleep, I saw the in-flight map. Our route was charted out, and it was a damn interesting one. We were flying over Moscow, parts of northern Europe, close to Iceland, and then over Canada. I did not sleep at all. I don’t know why they keep the shutters closed. The wonder of seeing these lands, with all their history, references in popular culture and possibility of never seeing them all was enough to keep me awake to catch but a glimpse of it all. Here are a few pictures.

SO MUCH VIKING FEEEL!

SO MUCH VIKING FEEEL!

Europe's End.

Europe’s End.

Land fall into North America

Land fall into North America