Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rohit's American Adventure: Chapter 23: Spring 08: Post Miami

Well, being sick in USA sucks big time. I really miss the awesomeness and comfort of health care in India. If you are sick, walk to the nearest clinic and you can get a prescription which fixes you. Whereas in USA, you need to have a health plan, which consumes part of your pay check and things are expensive. I blew over 200$ to fix my tooth problem. I did have health insurance but did not have dental insurance, which did not make me a happy person.

Post Miami, every night seemed an adventure. I could now go and order drinks on my own. I was introduced to rails and vodka drinks. I remember always goofing up and saying coke and Jack instead of Jack and coke. I went out 5 nights in a row one week and that was it. I also ended up at a frat party where I got drunk. I had 5 cheap beers and they dehydrated me. Some students thought I was their Math TA as I introduced myself as a grad student. It was sad as the semester came to close. I did not know what was to happen next. I had made friends and was living it up and it was not fair for it to come to an end so soon. Deep down within, I was living life of a freshman. Apart from the outings at night with the boys, I enjoyed spending evenings on campus at random events which used to be free. I kind of regret not going to the gym and pool often, which was free

I had interviewed at a couple of places but things were not working out. I was not keeping that well either and was not sure about graduating in Spring. It was a tough decision but I decided to postpone my graduation to buy myself more time to work on the projects I was working on and search for the right job. On the last day of the semester, as I was walking back home, I could see parents help their kids move out of their dorms. College Park can never be the same without its students which makes it like south beach in Miami. I spent the last night in my friend, Ariel's room listening to some Jewish music, gliding through some old facebook pictures and sipping some yuengling. I was in store of another Summer, working at the library but without my newly found entourage of Jewish friends. I had no idea what to expect but was encouraged to hear that some of my friends, Yossi, Gab and Alter were going to be around College Park for the summer.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure: Chapter 22.Spring Break 08

First few days into the spring semester, I was already missing home. Work and classes kept me busy. I did enjoy giving all my friends the gifts I had got for them from India. I had got authentic India tea for Ryan and Jason, an indian dress for Brittany Webster,a souvenir for Stephanie's grandparents, an Indian soap for Rafi's mom etc. I was looking forward to the Spring break to Miami which my friends, Rafi and Sammy had told me about. I enjoyed having Ariel and Rafi for Tea at my place. Ariel got to see my room for the first time and recommended the wardrobe I must carry for Miami. I made reservations at the local hostel and had no idea what I was getting myself into. With just a week left for Spring break, I got an interview call from a firm in New york city.
I did well in the phone interview and they called me for an office interview. The dates were colliding with my Spring break trip. I decided to go with the interview. I had my interview with the firm on Monday and then took the connecting flight to Miami. It worked out perfectly well except that it was St. Patrick's day celebration in NYC. I barely made it to my interview thanks to the road blocks and array of drunk people. It was a great time to be in NYC especially an Irishman and not that great time to give an interview. Walking along the streets of NYC can be confusing at times. It is a huge grid, which can get pretty overwhelming when you meet people who give you different directions to get to the same place. I did make it to Kennedy airport in NYC and was lucky to get an earlier flight. Had it not been for that, I would have to wait for 6 hours at Kennedy airport to catch my flight. I met two wonderful people at the Kennedy airport Lys and her sweet mom. In fact it was Lys's mom who had prompted me to get a transfer to an earlier flight. I had a stop over at Atlanta where I parted ways with Lys and her mom. I wished Lys good luck with college. My friend Ariel picked me up at MIA airport and the drive along the stretch was awesome. I was greeted by a welcome txt message from Rafi.We meet the boys at a local restaurant and after some talk we all headed our separate ways. I checked into my hostel and it was quite an experience. I was sleeping in a room of 10 dudes, which was not exactly what I had in mind. I slept that night looking forward to the next few days.

My first day in Miami was nothing short of random events which were fun. I met up with Rafi and then we were chilling at Ranan's apartment, which was awesome. That was officially the first time, I had a decent conversation with the great, Josh Alter. We spend the day chilling by the hotel pool and then went to the beach.
We went to Tzvi's place in the evening, where Sammy was staying. There was this positive energy about Tzvi which was so refreshing and unique. Tzvi was kind enough to let me stay at his place. So, from living in a hostel with 10 dudes, I was now living in a lavish apartment in South Beach. God has mysterious ways of helping. I went to the local basketball game in which Rafi, Tzvi and Sammy were playing. Post the game, it was time to go out. I had my first official drink thanks to Ranan and it was Vodka+Redbull. The night ended peacefully with everyone being excited to celebrate my birthday he next night. I had an interesting conversation with Adam Ziefer that night about sex, life and things we wanted to achieve. The stage was set for my birthday

On my 24 th birthday, I started drinking. That’s too late an age to start drinking isn’t it? I do not think so. Everything in life happens for a reason and I believe it was meant to happen on my 24 th birthday. My boys had crazy plans for me on the night of my birthday. Josh Alter said, that my birthday night was going to be three events of my life: my barmitswa, my 21st birthday and my bachelors party. It was a funny feeling to have my first beer on the night, I turned 24. I am pretty sure kids in America try it sooner than that. Two beers down, it was a different feeling to enter a bar, with everything seeming so chill. The shitty music seemed to sound good and the girls seemed to look friendly. Everything seemed so good and funny. Fast forward a couple of photographs with my boys and Vered and her girlfriends, I was swinging and walking the streets of South Beach Miami. I made sure I drank enough water to negate the effect of beer.

I have observed one thing: My jewish boys/brothers are always with the most gorgeous, beautiful girls. I dunno how they pull it off. We split into two groups that night. The first group went to Mansion and the other group went to this club, whose name I forgot. I was with the second group. Rafi made sure, I got in and what happened next was something amazing. My boys were keen on hooking me up with a girl. I actually had a Sex 101 session with my boys who educated me on how to use a condom. It sounds funny but prior to that night, the closest I have been to a woman is a hug. One more beer down my throat, I was chilling and my body was grooving to the music. I had my first official grind with this random girl for 25 mins and I seemed to be chillin. I remember, the first time, I had seen that step, I had asked the girl next to me to teach me that step. I never heard back from that girl. After grinding, that girl was dancing in front of me for 10 mins and I was doing the same, with couples making out in the background. I guess, I was na├»ve and didn’t know, I was supposed to grab her around her back.

We had to leave at 3am. I was sad because, I wanted to keep dancing till 5am and wanted to be the last person to leave the club. One of the guys, Josh Alter was supposed to take me to the strip club and buy me a lap dance but he got too drunk that night and the local strip club did not have a good reputation of having good strippers. I had some muffins at Dunking Donouts with Ariel and Rafi and that was sweet. Next night was not that great. We went to this shitty bar, which was not great. I chucked vodka and red bull which was not cool but Sammy was happy when I did it.

Fast forward to 4am in the morning, I was in the hot tub with five girls, we met at the bar. It was funny because I was floating in the hot tub. I walked some of the girls to their cab with Sammy which was cool. The next day, I was feeling shitty and I guess that was my first official hangover. I had a great shabat diner with Ariel’s family which was awesome. Later that night, I ventured out to South beach on my own and was lost. My jewish boys could not come because of shabat. I had funny conversation with two random finish girls at the bar until some dude came in and ruined in all the fun. I went to mansion club and asked every girl in the bar if I could dance with her, only to get a big no. I do not care as I had nothing to lose. I like to dance when I am tipsy. I met this random girl in the cab back home to Ariel’s place. Bouncers taught me how to call a cab and they helped me get into that cab. She asked me if I was some sort of a guru and I said, I could help her. She gave me her business card and told me to call her the next day. I did call her the next day but she did not reply. I am not surprised.

Post Maimi, things have changed. I go to bars often and have a great time, though am disappointed when I do not grind but that’s changing. The question is, why do I do it? Well, I do it because now is the right time. I am 24 and want to enjoy life and do crazy stuff. I do not want to bitch about not doing this when I am 50 odd driving past a bar. Deep down in my heart, I feel I was a sophomore. I wish I could go out with my boys every night and have a sic time. I just feel it has happened too late, which is making me sad. However, I want to make every day count and have a great time, every night I go out. I am happy, I can experience the American student life. Getting drunk, walking down the lanes of 7/11 to your dorms, doing funny things. I am happy I got a chance to experience and feel that and I wish I can live every moment to the fullest. As my friend, Ariel rightly put it, “It is my karma”. I was meant to experience these things at this part of my life with just few months to graduate.

I kind of feel sad that I do not have a girlfriend. I spent two years of my college life behind this girl who did not care a shit about me. I still believed it would work out because I thought it was special. It is like, I never wanted to have a girlfriend because I needed to have a girlfriend. I wanted to have a girlfriend, who was special, who I could see every day and forget about everything and make her the happiest woman in the world. I guess there is somewhere out there who will be crazy enough to fall for me. I am quite a sensation (may or may not be a hyperbolic statement) when I dance on the dance floors. That is the only point of drinking for me. I feel loose and can dance my ass off and I love dancing. It was funny last night as everyone (especially girls) enjoyed (I assume) seeing my dance, that every time, I was about to grind with this girl, I was cut off and everyone wanted to see me dancing solo.

I have had a great time in University of Maryland so far, apart from the shitty weather and some snobbish girls who block me off AIM just because I am nice and good to them. I write this chapter to raise a toast to all my wonderful friends who have added value to my life. My life would not be the same without you guys and girls. Special thanks to Ariel, Rafi and Sammy for making the Miami trip happen. You guys are my life. I love you all and wish you the very best.

Last but not the least, I want to thank God for everything and that is my message to all you wonderful friends all there. Believe in God, he will make sure wonderful things happen in your life.

I was asked to leave the Marc(local bar) last night, because the bouncer thought I was drunk. I was dancing my ass off and having a great time. I slipped on the floor when I was dancing because of the alcohol on the floor and the bouncer thought something else. That is why I hate bouncers and snobbish girls because they get freaked out too soon. Grow up people!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure: Chapter 21. Trip to India: the best ever

I was excited to return home.My joy knew no bounds when I saw my parents waiting outside the Airport arrivals gate. I was happy to see my younger brother as always , being energetic and positive. The drive back home was smooth. Driving in the streets in the wee hours of the morning is always fun. The empty streets, the occasional honking, the stinky odor that characterized some streets and off course the humidity made me feel back home. This might sound funny to all my American reader friends but my parents had rented a vehicle and hired a driver to drive us home from the airport. It is a common think to do in India but would be weird in America. I was greeted by open arms by my grandmother as I entered my home and I experienced the most wonderful feeling in my heart. I could feel it beating harder and giving me an emotion, which I cannot describe. I spent the first one hour unpacking my bag and giving the gifts to my family. I had bought shoes for my dad, some cool american beauty care products for my mom thanks to Stephanie Crist, coffee and skin cream for my grandmom and an mp3 player for my brother; not to forget the large bag of chocolates, which Jimmy had helped me get from Walmart. I had shower in my old bathroom and enjoyed it. I decided to take a nap but could not sleep. I decided to surprise my friends from college with a visit. I stopped over at Swapnil's place but he was not there. However, his mom was happy to see me and I enjoyed talking with her. The rest of the day passed by quickly and I slept like a baby that night next to my grandmother.

The next few days were spend visiting family and friends which is always fun. People in India are always excited when they meet someone from a different country especially America. I enjoyed telling them about my experiences, my new found friends in America and my life. It was good to meet up with buddies from college. All of them had jobs in companies and were earning well now. We made a trip to the town side and it was a good feeling. The walk along Marine drive right next to the ocean was awesome, where we sat and talked about our love lifes, and professional experiences. I was happy for Omkar. He had a girlfriend and told me about his outings with her to the movies and the good times they shared together. Adrain seemed to be doing well in his job. He was an outstanding software programmer in college and I was not surprised to hear that. Swapnil had his usual stories of his encounters with the opposite sex and was as always a treat to have a conversation with. Roshan was doing well in his job too. He had just got back from England and was keen on doing further studies. We had dinner at a posh restaurant, something we dreamed of when we were at school and had no money. It was amazing to see the transformation of us as kids with money, jobs and a future.

My days used to be spent eating, walking in the neighborhood, helping grandmother with the daily chores and applying for jobs. I enjoyed the prospect of not worrying to cook as delicious food was served at regular times. I did pay a visit to my old college and it was good to meet up with friends and faculty. I also enjoyed giving Amit Chheda,one of my good college friends a visit. My evenings were spent chilling with Amar Khanda, listening to his musical compositions and meeting up with other friends. I was enjoying every bit of my time in India and did not feel like leaving. I enjoyed giving Biren, one of my old friends visit to his home and having a talk with his parents. I did give one of my friends, Rafi from America a call as promised and he was happy to hear from me. I called Stephanie Crist on Christmas and conveyed my wishes to her and she was excited.

I did pay a visit to my grandfather in Hyderabad and was happy to see him. He was renting the place he was living in and was keeping himself busy. I gave him the radioset and gum paste he had asked me to get for him. We then visited Krishna doda's ( my mom's elder sister) house. We did some sightseeing and then were on our way back home to Mumbai. It was an hour long flight but very pleasant. I celebrated my favorite festival Sankrati in the next few days and was enjoying every bit of it. Sankranti is an awesome festival of kites, where you fly kites the entire day. My description sounds silly but it is fun. Days had passed by quickly and there was about a week left for me to return to United States. I was not at all keen of coming back, considering how much warmth, comfort, I was experiencing at home. We spent the days shopping, packing my bags which was emotional. I always enjoyed shopping with dad as he loved to spend money on quality, whereas my mom was extreme opposite. I had bought a lot of gifts for my american friends who were girls and my mom was having a ball pulling my leg. I enjoyed visiting Amee( my dad's elder sister). My cousin sister had given birth to a daughter who was now about a year old and it was fun interacting with her. I lost track of the number of times she kissed me.

I did pay a surprise visit to one of my college professor's, Ms. Anuradha. She was happy to see me and it was a fun visit. She has two wonderful daughters and is a wonderful person. We did visit Kalpana Muttamma, my dad's brothers wife. She loved having me over and cooking those delicious meals for me. As a kid, I used to spend my summer vacations at Kalpana Muttama's place and they were fun. Kalpana Muttamma had a feast in store for me when she knew I was coming. I enjoyed the meal and it was good catching up with my cousins, Abhijeet and Abhisheck. I took Kalpana Muttamma and Ravi Muttappa's blessings and bid adieu to them.

In days to follow, we did visit a lot of temples and it was a great experience. The shopping continued till the last day; I remember my parents packing my bags on that night. I took a short walk around my neighborhood that night reliving all the good times, I had experienced over the duration of the past month. America is a great country, it was actually great because of the friends I had , who had changed my life but home was still home. I was torn between two worlds: my home for the past 22 years of my life and my new found home for the past one and a half year. I was crying when I was leaving home at 2 in the morning. I hugged my grandmother, who is the most important person in my life for all the warmth, love and comfort. I touched my parents feet and sought their blessings. I prayed to the God Dieties in my apartment and headed out. I did hug my younger brother at the airport and wished him luck and success. It was an emotional ride to the airport as no one wanted me to leave, but I was returning to America to pursue the American dream, to make a life for myself and my family. As I passed by departure gates, I waived to my parents not knowing when I would see them again. I had to pay extra money as one of my bags was over weight. I made one final call to my parents from the local phone in the airport, once I was done with the baggage check and told them I was all set to go. I was so emotional that I forgot my wallet at the local phone. I was lucky when just few minutes prior to the take off, security officials called my name , which kind of freaked me out but was relieved when one of them gave me my wallet and I hugged him. As the plane was gaining momentum, I closed my eyes and walked out through all the fun moments I had experienced in the past one month. I had never been so happy and was sad the good times had to come to an end. I cried the entire flight ( which was an annoying 24 hours long). I was tired after a long flight and my friends( family away from home) were patiently waiting to pick me up from the airport. I was back in America ready to start my last semester and had no idea what was in store for me. It definitely had a great start, with a stopover at Stephanie Crist's place to get some ice cream and the next day at bars with my Jewish friends

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rohit's American Adevnture: Chapter 20: Another Fall Semester passes by

The Fall semester started with a a lot of promise. I was looking forward to the career fair and to catch up with friends who had been home for the summer. I was taking courses on Knowledge Management, Seminar on Decision Making and Management of Information Programs and Services. I was excited about these courses and was looking forward to have a good time. In the meanwhile, I was keen on getting my drivers license. I was happy to meet Dmitry, Margarita's brother. I had met Margarita at the Bible study group in summer. Dmitry was kind enough to teach me to drive. I enjoyed my driving lessons with him and was keen on getting my drivers license. I failed in my first attempt at parallel parking, which was my biggest flaw. I just could not parallel park. What made it worse, was that I kept on failing on a regular basis. I remember, my Wednesday mornings started with a promise that I would pass my drivers test. I used to return back with the kiss of failure and then used to sit through class in the afternoon, figuring out a way to get through the parallel parking dilemma. I got to a point where I lost all hope of getting my drivers license. I was also interviewing at a couple places and things were not working out. So, I was going through a lean patch where things were not working out and I was depressed. It hit me really hard, when I was confident I had a great personal interview with folks at Deloitte but they did not get back to me. I did surprise Dmitry on his birthday by smashing a cake against his face which was funny. I always believed in making people happy and giving them moments to remember for their life, in the middle of all the failure I was going through.

I also bumped into Maggy in the beginning of the semester and was happy. My heart was beating faster than ever and words could not come out of my mouth, as I was talking with her. Just having a conversation with her for 5 mins made my entire evening wonderful. I felt like I was in heaven. I did ask her when she wanted to do dinner and she said she just wanted to be friends. I just said to myself, why did she not tell me this when I asked her out for dinner at the end of spring semester. I took me sometime to finally get over her and start over.

I also had a fun outing on Halloween night. They were having a free burrito day at chipotle as long as you came wrapped in a foil or had foil on some part of your body. I somehow managed to get one, having a crown made of foil around my head. I got a call from Rafi, about what they were up to. I decided to join in and it was quite an experience. Since the metro close don 11pm on weekdays, I had to take a cab to Adams Morgan. That was an adventure in itself. I had to blow 40 bucks just to get there by taking a cab. I did not have cash with me, so asked the cab driver to drive me to an ATM. He happened to drive me to a Bank of America ATM while I had a chevy chase bank debit card. I did not know that time that my chevy chase card would work fine and I would just be billed an extra service charge of 3 dollars. The cab driver lost patience and decided to drop me back at College Park. fortunately, on our way back, I was able to find a chevy chase bank ATM and everything worked out well. that was by far the most expensive cab ride I have taken.I saw people in all weird costumes right from Ghostbusters to vampires on the streets of Adams Morgan. It was like I was in a different world, where everyone just wanted to have fun. I was calling Rafi and Sammy but they did not pick up. I walked along the streets for 25 minutes until I finally bumped into Ariel, who believe it or not was dressed as Nacho Libre. Once I met Ariel, it was easy to meet up with the other guys. What happened after that was a joyride. Rafi and Sammy were dressed up as girls, which was funny. We went into this pizza shop where they served these huge pizza slices. Those were the hugest pizza slices I have ever seen. The cab drivers were on strike that night; so we had to pay extra cash to get back home.

I eventually passed my driving test on a snowy day and my happiness knew no bounds. I was the happiest person that day. I will never forget Dmitry and Margarita for all their help and patience in middle of all this. I could not have got my drivers license without their help. Fall semester passed by quickly, paving way for my trip back home to India. It seemed hard to digest but I was done with three semesters and was one semester away from graduation. I remember dropping by Gab's pace to bid goodbye to my friends before I left for India. I was happy to see all of them. Rafi hinted the idea of going to Miami for spring break and then taking a cruise to the Bahamas. Everyone wanted me to come with them. I assured them I would do my best and would definitely go with them. I made my first visit to the Liquor store with Jimmy to get bottles of Jack Daniels for my dad and friend. I could not sleep that night. My entire room was in a mess with clothes and gifts lying everywhere. Stephanie Crist had helped me buy cream and shampoo for my mom and grandmother few weeks ago.
I had forgotten to get my I-20 signed, which was stupid of me. I would have no problem leaving the country, but when I enter United States, an unsigned I-20 would cause problems.

I was fortunate the folks at International Education Services Office were cool enough to help me out at the eleventh hour. Chris Garriott gave me a ride to the airport, which made life easier. I checked in my luggage and was all set to go home!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 19. Summer 07: More sir pays a visit

I used to speak with More sir a lot in my early days in America. He was like my mentor and I always felt good after talking with him. I was excited to hear that he was paying me a visit. I remember cooking sufficient vegetarian food for two days with Aimee. Aimee loved to cook and this was around the time, I got my cell phone after being in the states for almost a year. I was happy to greet More Sir at Chinatown Metro station. He looked the same and was dressed up in an American way, a t shirt and shorts. The walk from College Park Metro Station to home was long and I was feeling bad, I was making More Sir walk that much. Finally when we reached home, I warmed up the food and set up the table for lunch. More Sir has a high standard when it comes to judging and evaluating things. I was really happy to see a smile on More sir's face. He had enjoyed the meal. We spend the evening exploring the campus. More sir enjoyed visiting the Clarice Smith center of performing arts. On the walk back home, More sir was sharing with me thoughts about God and living a life dedicated to the Almighty. We had invited Amy for dinner that night. She had cooked pulao and brought it to my apartment. I felt like I was back home. I could not believe I was eating naan with three vegetables. More Sir was clearly impressed by Aimee's cooking skills. We spent the night talking about life. I had to take time off in the middle to talk with my parents on skype as it was a saturday night. I was surprised when I tasted egg free ice cream. It actually was not bad at all.

We went shopping the next day courtesy of Aimee. She drove us to a local mall. More sir wanted to buy some stuff for my apartment. He thought it was too depressing with no pictures on the walls. We ended up buying a lot more stuff including a bath tub scrubber to clean the bathroom. We had pizza for lunch and were in two minds about ways of spending the afternoon. More sir wanted to see Ratatouille, the movie and then head out to catch his bus back home. However, Aimee recommended going trekking in Virginia. After a lot of deliberation, we decided to go by Aimee's recommendation. We figured out the we could see the movie some other time and the trek would be special. The trek was a long walk. The only problem was it was hot and having a bicycle would have made life easy. There was a point in time, where we thought More sir would miss his bus. However, we miraculously made it back in time and More Sir was able to catch his bus. I kind of felt sad when More sir left. More sir had been my mentor all long advising me on things and important decisions on my life. He had purchased things by means of which, I could improve the way I lived life and be happy. I cleaned up my bathroom, kitchen and put up some pictures in the apartment to exude positiveness. I sent him pictures and he was delighted to see them.

Time had passed by quickly and summer had ended paving way for an exciting Fall semester

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 18. Summer 07: Pittsburgh Calling

My goal for this summer was to travel and have fun. I never liked to travel in India as it was often tiring, time consuming and cumbersome. However, I was curious to check out the different states in USA and was excited to travel. Traveling by planes was the most popular way to travel as it was fast and convenient apart from the zillion security checks.

I was in touch with Ravi annaya since the first day I landed in USA. I enjoyed talking with him and his words of wisdom. I helped his wife, Aparna in the application process of further studies in USA. Ravi annaya wanted me to pay him a visit as he had some spare time and wanted to catch up on things. I was also keen on meeting him and Aparna and decided to take the plunge.

The journey started on an uneventful note. My evening flight to Pittsburgh was canceled and they put me on an early morning flight bound for Pittsburgh the next day. The early morning flight was in a different airport Ronald Reagan which further complicated matters. So, I could spend the entire night at BWI airport and then take the cab to Ronald Reagan or go home, sleep for an hour ortwo and figure out a way to get to the airport. It is in moments like these you wish you had a car. Luckily, I had met an old lady at the airport who was in the same situation as mine. She was kind enough to offer me the option of giving me a ride to the airport in the morning and that made things simple. We took the metro from the airport and got off at our respective destinations near our homes. I slept for an hour after reaching my home. The flight was at 6:00am, so we had to be there at round 5:00am. She picked up me at 3:30 am and we were at the airport on time. The airport was quite a spectacle at 4:00am in the morning with no one around. I felt as if I owned the place. It was quite a surprise to get a call from my friend, Nitesh at 4 in the morning( it was 1:30 in the afternoon in India). We spoke about life and different things we were working on.

Post the security checks and a shot of strong coffee, I was happy to be on my way to Pittsburgh. I bid adieu to the old lady who had helped me at Pittsburgh International airport. There was more drama at the airport as I did not get my checked baggage. I had to fill in a baggage claim form hopping that I could get back my baggage in time. I was leaving the next day in the evening flight.

I was happy to see Ravi annaya and Aparna (Vadina) at the airport. The drive to back home was beautiful with scenic views of Pittsburgh's downtown and CMU campus. Vadina had gifted Ravi annaya a GPS on his birthday. It's funny in India, I never used map when traveling as public transportation existed to every place, especially in Mumbai. What's worse, is that we had a driver, who took us around, so we never bothered to check out maps. Whereas in USA, you needed a map when you were traveling as the concept of drivers was non existent. Everyone here loves to drive their own car as it gives them independence and freedom.

Once we were home, Ravi annaya was chalking out plans for the next two days. We decided to drive to Niagara Falls. The drive was long but fun. I brought back old memories for Ravi annaya and Vadina by asking about how they initially met and did they know they would end up marrying each other. The outskirts of Niagara falls was an interesting place. There were a lot of small Indian restaurants and roadside vendors which brought back memories of Mumbai. We wasted no time and headed straight to the Niagara Falls. It was the most amazing experience of my life, to be in the boat near to the falls. It exhibited how powerful and wonderful nature was. We spend the evening getting some food and seeing the sun set over the Niagara falls which was amazing.

I had an amazing breakfast of dosa and chuttney next day in the morning thanks to Vadina. Vadina and Ravi annaya were perfect for each other and I was happy to spend time with them. My lost baggage had arrived just in time before we left for the airport. My flight back home was again delayed but I did reach home eventually which was all that mattered. This was a short visit but a memorable one. I spent more time traveling, being held up at airports as compared to the time, I spend with Ravi annaya and Vadina. At the end of the day, it was well worth the visit and a welcome break from College Park

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 17. Summer 07: Internship blues, Bible study and Peggy's graduation party

Getting an internship was my number one priority for the summer, as internships turn into full time job offers. I did not hear from the big guns, Microsoft and Google, so was kind of disappointed. I did keep trying and sending in that resume of mine every day. I did get some interview calls but it did not go to the next stage as I did not have citizenship. In the meanwhile, I was working in John Hopkins as an intern, thanks to Patti. Patti was in one of my classes in my first semester and she was kind enough, to bring me on board when I asked her if there was something I could work on. I was working on projects beyond my background, one of them was an AIDS awareness project and the other one was Avian Flu. I was working with an excellent team, who valued my opinions and suggestions. The commute to Baltimore via the MARC train was a pain but that was the only way of getting there. Patti was one of the few people, who I really admired. She was smart, hardworking and knew her strengths. I remember my first day in John Hopkins. Patti picked me up from Camden Yards and was driving me towards John Hopkins campus. She was telling me how unsafe the areas around John Hopkins was after 10pm. I could not continue with the project at John Hopkins for a long time as I had got an internship on campus. I met Jen Moore at random on my way back from John Hopkins to Penn station on the John Hopkins shuttle. I had a normal conversation with her when I got into the shuttle and was amazed when I came to know that she was also interning at John Hopkins but in a different department. Well,she expressed her interest to visit India and gave me her email address before I could get down for my stop.

I was excited about my internship on campus as it was something on lines of what I wanted to do:project management and I got free lunches at the awesome diner. Everything seemed to be going as per plan until I got the email from MTV regarding a possible internship opportunity. Now here is the flaw, it was unpaid and it would be unethical to leave the new internship I had got on campus. My weakness of inability to take a decision was exposed again. On one hand, I had an opportunity to intern at MTV, which would be great on a resume and the other hand I had an internship on campus which I had just got. The internship at MTV was unpaid, so living in NYC was definitely going to burn a hole in my pocket.So, after a lot of deliberation I figured out, I would do my internship on campus for 20 hours and commute to NYC and work on Fridays and Mondays. I was about to start work in MTV on July 7th but then my supervisor said I could not start working before July 13th as it would take at least a week to get the id's and work space set up for me. However, if I started work on July 13th, I was not meeting the minimum criteria of a 8 week internship. So, after all the planning, I ended up losing the internship for no fault of mine. I did have a great time working with Mr. Ming at the dinner. He was fun and very easy to get along with. I was happy as I got a chance to do what I wanted to and did not have to worry about cooking lunches. I enjoyed amazing meals at the dinner which kind of became predictable after a certain period of time.

In the middle of all this running around, I was doing bible study for summer. My friend, Jason Float had organized Summer bible study group and I was part of it. I made a lot of friends there and learned about Jesus. I had been touch with Jen Moore through a string of emails titled,' nice meeting you on John hopkins shuttle'. I decided to pay her a visit and was really excited about spending time with her. I was still without a phone, so there was no way of letting her know that I was running late. I finally called her from a local phone at Penn Station and was happy to hear she was coming to the station to pick me up. We took the John hopkins shuttle to her apartment , where I met her friend Sara. so the plan was to spend an entire day sightseeing in Baltimore till Jen's friend, Diane would meet us in the evening. I enjoyed my first visit to coldstone thanks to Jen. It was so confusing to choose the right ice cream flavor. I decided to stick to traditional chocolate and was not disappointed. We checked out Baltimore harbor and were just hanging out. We even witnessed an American wedding which was cute. I got to know Sara better. She was home schooled and was going to have a knee operation in the next few weeks.
Jen was getting more excited by the minute as she was going to meet Diane. Diane came off as a fun, loving person and was great to get along with and yes she did have a thing for guys wearing purple shirts. We parted ways that evening, with me catching my Amtrack train back to DC and the girls heading back to Jen's home. I have not spoken with Jen since my last visit.

The most awesome thing to happen in summer was Peggy's, Kurt's sisters graduation party. I was invited to it by Kurt's mom and was excited. I love Kurt's family because they are a big family and everybody loves everybody. We drove to NY with Kurt's other sister, Kate who is a photographer. It was beautiful entering NY city in the wee hours of the morning. The thing which I enjoyed the most was the hug and kiss, which Kurt's mom gave me, when we reached Kurt's mom home. I got up next day to be greeted by an awesome breakfast. The Lasnier family had dropped in. Kurt's mom had her jabs at me, whenever I added sugar in my cereals. She was a dentist and was having a ball pulling my leg.

The Lasnier family was fun. I enjoyed meeting Kevin Lasnier. Kevin was this raw bundle of energy who shared the passion of food with Kurt. When I arrived at the party, I felt like I was in heaven. It was an outdoor party and I could see flyers with Peggy's face, shouting out congratulations. This was a big party as this was also celebrating, one of the Rothberg girls, Calli getting into high school and Aunt Mary's sons getting into Hartwick college. I was so happy to see Aunt Tricia after a long time. I helped her set up the tent. From the last time, I had met her, I now had a phone but was still without a drivers license. I started munching on the food and was happy to meet Kurt's extended family. About 100 Manspergers had come to the party and it was great get together event. I enjoyed playing ping pong and observed that Kurt always liked to play solo. Even if he had a partner, he would take most of the shorts. We went bowling later on in the night. I sucked at it but Kevin kind of enjoyed coaching me. I met Ahmad Ismail ( my non drinking partner at Kurt's first party) there and it was good to catch up with him. Kevin's parents drove us back , which was very kind of them. It was one of those weekends, which will remain in my mind forever.