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.

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 16. Spring 07: Falling in love with the wrong person

All my life, I have fallen in love only to find the girl I love, going out with someone. I met someone special on the OSCAR night. They were showing the OSCARS live in the stamp union and I was up for it. I had this wonderful walk to the stamp union from my apartment after having a fight with my roommate. It was a snowy evening and the entire campus was covered with snow. Coming from a country, where it is a rare occasion to see snow, the walk was memorable and a special experience. I saw a girl being chased down one of the alleys in the campus by her friend who had this snowball in his hand. Both of them seemed happy cuddling each other, when the boy finally caught the girl. I thought that was cute and craved for that feeling.

I arrived on time at the venue. The stamp union was the most happening place on campus. All major events used to happen there. As usual, I did not know anyone at the event. I just wanted to see the Oscars as I had been doing that loyally for the past few years. I used to perceive the Oscars as a stimulant to my desire to be a filmmaker.

There was a table with the best view of the screen and four beautiful ladies were seated around it in chairs. I asked the ladies, if I could join them and they obliged. As all Americans I had met so far, they too were curious to know about my country and about my experience in this country so far. I did tell them how much I hated this country when I initially arrived and how I have learned things the hard way. As the evening progressed, I got to know the girls better. It was really cool, when all of us had a picture taken in front of the dummy OSCAR statue. They had a dummy of the OSCAR statue set up outside the venue so that people could take pictures standing next to it, just to get a feel of attending the OSCARS in real life.I will always remember and treasure that picture. Here was this simple guy from India spending an evening with the most beautiful girls in College Park. I remember sharing those pictures with my colleagues at work and Rauf bhai teasing me the entire day.

There was this one girl,I just could not take my eyes off. She looked gorgeous and I liked her from the moment our eyes met. Her name was, well lets just call her M. I also took some pictures with my camera of M and her friends and told M that I could email her the pictures to which she surprisingly gave her email address. I still have that piece of paper with me in which she scribbled her email address. Most of her friends left as the hours passed by. There was a moment where we were the only ones on the table only to be disturbed by this annoying friend of hers who was getting too close to her and worst of all she seem to be enjoying it. She did leave with only few moments left for the OSCAR’s to end. 'The departed', surprisingly won the best picture. She did tell me when she was leaving and that was kind of her. I so felt the need to tell her that I could walk her to her apartment on campus but I have never been able to tell the right thing to girls at the right time.

I did have her email address which was a good start. So I did sent emails to her asking if she would want to hang out on weekends, go to some dance classes and stuff. However, she never seemed to reply. Most of the times, she would reply at the eleventh hour stating some reason for not being able to make it. I even happened to invite her to movies which they showed at the holf theatre on campus. She happened to show up at one of the movies, Disturbia playing at the hoff theatre without letting me know that she was coming. She arrived with her friends and I was surprised because I did not expect her to see her at the movies. So I did happen to keep an eye on her and she and her friends happened to take the front row seats while I took the seats at the extreme back. I so wish, I could have approached her on that night and seen the movie with her friends. After that night, she seemed to avoid me. That is the impression, I seemed to have got. She blocked me off Instant message and there was no talk. It was a painful experience. I had so much to offer to her and she was in no mood to receive it.

I finally happened to meet her by accident at one of the events on campus. She is an active member of SEE, a committee on campus which organizes cool events on campus. So, I did apologize if she thought I was stalking her or sending her too many emails. I told her, “I think you looked absolutely gorgeous on the Oscars night when we met and did not want to regret the rest of my life, that I never asked you out.” She never expected that coming from me but she was smiling and thanked me. I knew she would be there at the event next day. So I made sure that I saw her last time before the semester ended, as this was the last event before the semester and she was going to go on a summer trip.

After the event was over, I asked her, if I could take her out to dinner? To which she replied, I dunno, I will meet you in Fall. I will talk to you later.I was kind of heart broken by her reply. She could have just said no and finished it off. However, that is how girls are: they want to be nice and cannot say 'no'. It was again a case of falling in love with a girl, with me ending up with a broken heart. Being in Love can be the most amazing feeling in the world. However, it can be painful, when you have so much to offer the other person, and the person does not care a damn about it.

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 15. Spring 07: Less's story

When I first met Less, little did I know he was from the US army. He seemed just like all of us seated in the orientation hall. Less’s real name was Leslie but he preferred being called Less. When I was initially having problems with housing, he had offered to help me out. Every time after class, he used to check on me and ask if everything was going fine.

About few weeks ago, I had given him the photo of Lord Ganesha ( considered to be the God of good luck by Indians). I had come to know from him, that he would be posted to Iraq, once he completed the program in few months. I was taking the summer off and was not sure if I was going to met him in Fall. I gave him the photo of Lord Ganesha as a good luck charm to ensure that he survives the war and comes back. Less had a young son by the name William and a beautiful wife. He did mention this education was more of an opportunity to spend time with his family. Less was a nice guy and I so wanted and prayed that the situation in Iraq ended and he would stay back with his family.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 14. Spring 07:Best week of my life..thanks to Kurt

With just few days left for spring break to commence, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was eager for a get away from home thanks to the recent altercations which I had been having with my roommate. Kurt had plans of visiting his family in NY for Spring break.

I had met Kurt Mansperger while standing in line waiting to submit my resume at Microsoft Information booth. There was this lady at the booth, who seemed to believe that she was the only person in the line and she seemed to be talking with the recruiter for ages and none of the folks standing in the line seemed complaining. There appeared this young handsome gentleman behind me dressed in professional attire. I started a normal conversation with him introducing myself and talking about stuff. We seemed to get along well from the first few minutes of our talk. Time went by so fast, that I did not realize that I was next in line to submit my resume. I parted ways with Kurt having his email address. I did the courtesy email thing of telling it was great to meet him and would like to hang out some time. In the next few days, I got a facebook invite from him to a party hosted at his house. Now this was huge. The party was called the Black and White Lounge party. I was going to be at an American party and it seemed a proposition stupid enough not to pursue. I was also working on my film on Life of International students in US as part of my class project and looked at this opportunity to get some footage for my film. Kurt was a gentleman from the beginning. He picked me up from Plato’s dinner, a popular restaurant and then we drove towards his home. In his car, was Ahmad Ismail, Kurt’s high school buddy. Soon when the party kicked off, I discovered Ahmad and I had a strong connection in the sense that we did not drink alcohol. So, I spent most of my time talking with him. Kurt used to pop in periodically to make sure we were having at least juice or soda (cold drink). As the hours flew by, more people started flowing in and I did what I was good at, talking with people. I met a lot of people that night and saw the beer pong game, which was ridiculously funny to watch. I even shook my floor on the dance floor. I remember Sarah Shepherd was the first person to signal me to come on the dance floor and that helped. In all, it was a great night. Even though, I did not drink alcohol, I had a nice time.

Back to where I was. Kurt happened to see me online and asked me if I would be interested in spending the spring break with him and his family in NY.I said yes without thinking and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I had done all the packing and was ready for Kurt at the time, he had told me to be ready. He happened to be about 3 hours late. My parents were also excited about me finally going out of College Park.

He did arrive and from there on, it was picture perfect. Kurt had decided to drive to Pennsylvania to meet his dad, and then make a stop at Oneonta to meet his sister and then reach his mom's place on the outskirts of New York city, our final destination.
The drive to Pennsylvania was beautiful. It was snowing that day and it was great to see the vast stretches of land covered with snow.On the drive, we got to know each other well;definitely the kind of music we liked.The ipod made the journey enjoyable. We did make it to Kurt's dads place at late night and i was anxious to see how Kurt's dad looked like.. The doorway to his dads house was covered in snow and the moment Kurt's car pulled in, Kurt's dad had sensed it. He was waiting at the doorway.Kurt hugged him and it was great to see both of them happy. Kurt's dad resembled Robin Williams. He took pains to pronounce my name accurately, which was great. We reached Kurt's dads place on the eve on St. Patrick's day. Its is a very famous day for Irish people and they celebrate it by drinking.Kurt was Irish. So Kurt's father decided to treat us for dinner. He took us to a place where you could get vegetarian food, since I was also going with them. The dinner was great and Kurt made sure that I ordered something different than pizza this time.I cannot remember what i had ordered but I enjoyed it.

Later on in the night, I shared the last two rava ladoos which I had with Kurt and his dad and both of them liked it. Rava ladoo is a sweet dish, which is prepared in India during Diwali festival. My grandmom had sent me 50 of them, when I had visited India few months ago and I had used them sparingly.I showed Kurt's dad, Dr. Cyril some of the movies which I had on my laptop and he seemed to be interested in watching Charlie Chaplin's City of Lights. I had never seen that movie before and decided to watch it with him and had a nice time. I left the next morning hoping we had spent more time with Dr. Cyril.

The drive from Dr. Cyril's home to Peggy's(Kurt's sister) place was wonderful. It was a visual treat. Peggy lived in Oneonta. It was a small town and I fell in love with it. It was like the village in India and life seemed simple and fun.I liked the way the town was. It was a cluster of houses in lanes with no high rises.Peggy greeted us with a hug and introduced us to her female roommates. We were going to spend the night there. I was excited as this would be the first time, I would ever spend a night in an all girls house. During the day, we passed of time, by visiting the town and the hill, from where we could see the entire city of Oneonta.I did capture some shots on my camcorder to include them on my film which I was working on. Later on in the evening, after having dinner, Peggy took us to her friends apartment where they had thrown a small party. It was funny when they went to the store to buy the drinks prior to the party, they asked me what I wanted. As I did not drink, I obviously said no, but decided to take yoo-hoo, a sweet drink on Kurt's insistence.At the party, it was crazy, people drinking and playing games on sony playstation. They even showed us what happens if you heat up a CD in an Owen. That was cool but I would not recommend it to anyone.The yoo-hoo had gotten to me and it seemed for a moment that I would throw up before the folks who were drinking alcohol but thankfully I did not throw up. We left next day, eating the delicious sweet thing which Eimile, Peggy's roommate had baked for us. I almost forgot to mention, I enjoyed taking bath in a girls bathroom. It was clean and smelled great!

I was anxious to meet Kurt's mom. Kurt parked his car outside his mom's clinic.When we entered, Dr. Jane (Kurt's mom) greeted us with warm hugs and kisses on cheeks. Kurt had decided to have lunch at an Indian restaurant. We did go to the restaurant and we were joined by Kurt's aunts. The food was alright and it was great to see Kurt's mom speak with her sisters and Kurt enjoying chicken tikka masala. I did my best by recommending the different food they should try. Kurt's mom was generous enough to pay for the bill. She did ask me about my plans and I told her that I would be leaving in 3 days. She told me I was welcome to stay at her or aunt Tricia's place and I could leave with Kurt at the end of the weekend. I was happy and thanked her for the offer. Kurt had to take off in the middle of his family visit to Redmond for an interview with Microsoft. He was to come back in 2 days and leave for college park on Sunday.

The next few days were fun. I got to meet Kurt's family and felt at home. They were warm and accommodating.I was staying at Aunt Tricia's place. She had five kids and she was a great mom.I kind of developed a bond with the kids in a short period of time. The girls were amazed when I told them I do not drink alcohol. I also enjoyed helping Aunt Tricia prepare costumes for the play her kids were taking part in. I spent the night before my birthday at Kurt's dads place. Before meeting his dad, we had stopped by to meet his cousin Collin. He was barely in college and had a small daughter.It kind of felt weird but I shook his hand and applauded his and his wife's decision to keep the baby. I had pasta for dinner at Kurt's dad's place. Patti had cooked them for us. We then had a general talk about how different our cultures were and yes about divorces. India is a country where marriages are taken seriously and people do not take divorce as compared to folks in USA. However, I must confess times are changing in modern India with the youth being brainwashed by the american culture. Kurt's dad was excited about having his mother come and stay with them. I did share with him about the steamy interactions which occurs between my mom and my grandmother everyday in the morning and how everything cools down in the evening. I did give Patti a hint of things to expect.

I slept that night thanking God for a wonderful experience so far. I got up next day and saw everyone at the dinner table waiting for me. I quickly brushed my teeth and made it to the dinner table. Patti had prepared eggs, brownies and juice for breakfast to make sure we started the day full of energy. Before I could start eating, I touched Dr. Cyril and Patti's feet.They were surprised initially and had not clue what I was doing. I explained to them that it was as per Indian tradition to take blessings of your parents and people whom you respect on your birthday. A smile appeared on both Dr. Cyril and Patti's face. They had never experienced something like that before. We had breakfast and were discussing possible places to check out in New York City. Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, Broadway etc. were some of the names that popped up. We finally set out on our trip to New York city. Kurt's dad was kind enough to give us a ride to the metro station. At the metro station, I came across a gentleman who looked like an Indian and turned out to be an Indian. I spoke with him about the world cup cricket tournament. Someone has rightly said, where ever you go in the world it is extremely difficult not to find an Indian. It took us an hour to reach Grand Central Metro Station. Kurt was reading a book on how to crack Microsoft interviews along the train journey while I was watching the beautiful sights from the train window.


I was amazed at the architecture of the Grand Central Metro station. It was so huge and the environment was so full of energy. I took some pictures and left Grand central station. As soon as I stepped out of grand central station,I was amazed by the tall buildings facing me. It was just awesome. This may sound childish but it was just awesome to see one tall building after another and the cabs and people crossing the streets. We made it to Times Square and it was great. There was a huge group of tourists near us clicking pictures of everything they could see. I took some shots of it with my camera and we moved on. Kurt was insisting that we see a broad way musical and I was not that keen on that idea. However, I always liked trying new things and was up for it. Kurt wanted to see the Lion King but that was not playing so we instead settled for Les Miserables. We got standing tickets but we were happy we had tickets for the evening.We then visited the Hudson river, Chinatown, Little Italy and took some cool pictures. I was also shooting some footage for my short film,"Life of International Students in US". Kurt was kind of getting annoyed with me taking pictures of everything, so I gave the camera to him. He gladly accepted it and took on the responsibility to take pictures.

Time went by fast and I just wished I could stop time and enjoy the moment without having to worry about going back home the next day. Kurt knew how to get around New York City so that was a great help. I guess, when he visits Mumbai, I will be his guide and I hope to impress him with my knowledge about the city while taking him sightseeing. It was great to see the diversity of New York City. It kind of reminded me of my home, Mumbai. It was a melting point of different cultures. Its like you were going through a different country as you were passing through couple of blocks. It was amazing, we walked all the way from Brooklyn bridge to China Town and Little Italy. It was pleasant weather to walk. It was not that cold. We were kind of hungry so decided to catch some food before going to the broad way musical. It was a difficult task to find a restaurant which served something which I could eat. I still was a jerk when it came to eating outside and that kind of turned off Kurt. We did have a sneak peak into Hard Rock Cafe, which turned out to be a bar with no vegetarian offering. So, we ended up going to the Pizza place and it kind of satisfied my hunger.We decided to make a stop at Empire state building.The views from top of the building are told to be awesome. However, there was a long queue and we decided to bail out as we thought we would miss out on the broad way. We made it before time to the broad way.We had standing tickets.Just before the show was about to start, Kurt asked me about what my plans were for rest of the week. My previous plan was to leave for home when Kurt left for Microsoft interview.However, I also had the option of staying at Aunt Tricia's place till Kurt came back and leave with Kurt on Sunday to return back to College Park. Well, I told Kurt that I would love to stay at Aunt Tricia's place as long as it was not a trouble for her.The next thing he did was call Aunt Tricia and she was cool with me staying and I knew my schedule for the week before the play started. That was a good start to the play.
I was totally amazed at how wonderful the play was. The lighting, the music, the sets was just phenomenal. My respect for broad way musical had reached new heights. We walked around the city after the play discussing how awesome it was. Kurt had now seen this play 5 times. I am sorry if I got the count wrong, Kurt. We hung out at Times Square where I shot some footage for my film. We then walked towards the metro station giving strong consideration to the thought of eating at Indian restaurants. However, I decided to take up Kurt on his offer of eating at a place at the Grand Central Metro Station. He ordered a meal called Asparagus for me and ate something which looked delicious but am sure had meat. Well, as we were heading to our train, we were discussing about alcohol. He asked me what if I was 80 years old when I had my first drink and then felt sad that I had lost out on this all my life.I smiled and just said that its a valid point but to not drink alcohol is my personal decision. I am happy with it and have a good time, even if I do not drink.

We spoke about a lot of things on the trip right from funny antics of Kurt's cousin, Terrence to girls. It was fun. I had the best day of my life and it was frightening to think that I would have not experienced it if I had decided to go to the Indian store instead of visiting the career fair at engineering building, where I met Kurt. Faith has funny things in store for us.

Well, Kurt headed back to his mom's place after dropping me to Aunt Tricia's place. I was greeted by Aunt Margaret, who was just like all of Kurt's aunts very accommodating and good at heart. I slept in the bed next to Aunt Tricia's kids.I slept with a smile on my face thanking God for everything that had happened.


The next few days went fast. I helped Aunt Tricia in preparing costumes for the play in which her kids were taking part. I spent a major chunk of my day thanking everyone who wrote on my wall or scrapped in the digital world. I went with Aunt Tricia's girls to their dancing class and was amazed at the kind of life kids in America lived. As a kid, the only thing, I did was go to school and come home and do homework but this was so awesome. Kids here could develop their skills and be more creative. When, I came home with Aunt Tricia's girls and Aunt Tricia's boys had baked a cake for me. That was so amazing. It was a small thing but that meant the world to me. They sang happy birthday to me. They did have trouble pronouncing my name but they sang it with heart which made it so special for me. Aunt Tricia had also got Chinese food which made the kids very happy. Chinese food is supposed to be expensive in USA and very popular. It was again an example of how open American's were when it came to trying out new things.Aunt Tricia had got something vegetarian for me which again showed how caring and kind she was.

Before I went to bed, I was speaking with my parents on skype and Aunt Tricia's kids happened to be there. So, I introduced them to my parents and they were shy. Soon Aunt Tricia joined in and my Dad was caught off guard as he was talking with no shirt on. My parents enjoyed speaking with Aunt Tricia and the kids. There was a feast at Aunt Tricia's place the next day and I was looking forward to it. All of Kurt's aunts got together and were cooking for the giant feast. There was a vegetarian section too which was awesome. Aunt Mary's son was also a vegetarian, so there was going to be two of us. I was playing baseball with Jack(Aunt Tricia's youngest son) and getting to know him better. When I asked him what his favorite show was, he said "Pimp my ride". It was funny to hear him say that and I enjoyed talking with him on more deep issues.He did teach me on how to catch a ball in a baseball glove. We had to stop playing when Aunt Tricia told us to come in for the feast. Kurt's sister Peggy and her roommates Eimile and Kalyn had dropped by. They were going to France for Spring break and were going to catch the flight from NY the next day. As the evening went by, the house was packed with friends and relatives.Peggy had some funny glasses which she was trying on frequently. She did give me the glasses to try it and when I put it on, everyone started laughing. After everyone was done with the food, it was time for some dessert.Believe it or not, Aunt Mary had baked a cake for me which she brought to the center of the table and everyone sung when I cut the cake.This was so cool. The guys had some other plans for the night. They were planning to go to a bar and get drunk.One of them invited me and I decided to hop on. Aunt Tricia was kind of not sure about letting me go with the boys since she knew I did not drink, but she decided to let me go.We drove to the bars and the music which was played in the car made me laugh my ass out. It was hip hop but was funny for me. Once we were at the bar, I got to know the guys and spoke with them. Peggy and her friends joined us and they seemed to be in a mood to have fun.The good thing about hanging out with them was that everyone respected your desire to not drink and everyone made sure everyone else was having a good time. Being in the bar was a fun experience. Everyone was having a good time, drinking down the alcohol in their hands and watching the game on the big screens. The girls were planning to leave and Peggy approached me and told, I could sleep at Kurt's moms place. Peggy and her friends were also heading there. I was lucky to get a ride with them. I bid aideu to my friends wishing them the best of luck with their lives. In the car, Peggy asked if I had ever been in a hot tub. I did not know what it was and thought it was some lavish thing, which people did. I said no and asked whats so special about it? All the girls in the car started laughing. Well, we were at Kurt's moms place and I did not have any gear to put on to get into the hot tub. So, Peggy gave me Kurt's spare gear and I felt like David Hasselhoff in my red shorts ready to jump in the pool. It was stupid of me to ask Peggy if I could go in the hot tub naked. I thought, I would initially sit in the hot tub for 40 mins and after I get out, the girls would sit in, so being naked would not be a problem. However, the plan was for all of us to go in the hot tub together, so am glad I had Kurt's gear on. This was quite something, from being a shy guy and not even touched a woman, to being in a hot tub on a lovely night with three beautiful american women. We talked about over lives, issues, problems and good times. I took a picture with all three of them a a souvenir after we got out of the tub. Later that night, I helped Peggy pack for her France trip. We dropped the girls at the Airport after picking up Kurt from the airport. On the way, I had an interesting conversation with Kurt's mom and Kurt about my future plans.

My last day with Kurts' family was emotional. Kurt drove us (me and his mom) to best friend, Ashwin's home. I was really impressed when he removed he shoes before he entered their house. It is a normal Indian tradition to walk barefoot in your home. I was happy to meet Ashwin's parents. I touched their feet and they were happy. Even Kurt's mom did the same to which Ashwin's mom smiled and held Kurt's mom in her arms and hugged her. I got to eat home made Idlli after ages and absolutely loved it. Ashwin was in Harvard and then heading off to China for the winter. I got some Indian spices from Ashwin's mom as I was going to cook the Mansperger family some Indian vegetarian dinner. I was going to make them Pav Bhajji and was excited about it. I was helped by Aunt Tricia's two wonderful daughters. It was rare to have everything vegetarian on the dining table for once. Since most of them were used to eating with fork and spoon, they were not aware of how to eat Pav Bhajji with naan. I saw one of Aunt Tricia's daughters spread the Pav Bhajji on the naan and use scissors to cut small pieces of it. I hugged every member of the Mansperger family before leaving.

We drove to watch this play,'Black Mama Zambha', with Kurt's dad and Patty. The play was alright and I was happy to see Kurt's dad and Patty. Kurt's dad loved the rava laddo which, I had shared with him and proposed that my grandmother start a business. We spoke a lot on our drive back to College Park. We decided to make a stop over at Delaware to meet Kevin, one of Kurt's good friends. They played a basketball game on ps3 on Kevin's awesome plasma TV and after some time, we decided to continue on our drive to College Park. Kevin also played the viola which was awesome.On the way back, Kurt got a call from Melissa, (he had just broken up with her) and I suggested that he should go and see here. So, it was kind of cute at 5 in the morning, Kurt visited her with me listening With or Without you by U2 in his car. I slept over at Kurt's place not believing that I had just experienced the most awesome week of my life.

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 13. Spring 07:Roommate troubles again

My new roommate was Rohit(same name as mine). He was nice and kind. Everything seemed to be looking good. I was living close to campus, had no roommate issues and life was good. However, one night changed it all. We came back from the mall and were making dinner. I had to step out to make a phone call, which lasted longer than usual. When I came back, he had eaten my share of the dinner, which really made me angry as I was hungry. So, I shouted at him and he shouted back, trying to defend himself. He said many things, which hurt me considering all the help, I had given him since the past few weeks. It is like all I did for him had meant nothing. The next day, he apologized but it did not feel right and as every day passed by, we drifted apart. We used to have constant fights over some things and I wanted him to move out as he was not on lease. I was living in the main room as I could not stand sitting in the same room with him. There used to be rare moments where we would just talk as if nothing happened between us. However, it was best that he leave. I was happy if we could still be friends and he move out rather than he living in and trying to be good when it wasn't going to work out. To think of it, I was kind of immature to fight over food with him, but the things which I heard from that night made sure that I would never be friends with him again. He finally left in the summer and it felt void but peaceful the first night.

I just hopped that would be the last of my roommate issues.

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 12. Spring 07:Getting adjusted

The only thing, which excited me apart from the 101 things which were depressing me about leaving home was the fact that I was going to move into a new apartment with new roommates, which was closer to the campus. I was finally happy and keen to start all over again in this new apartment. A good friend of mine, Ali picked me up from the airport. He had a big smile on his face, when he greeted me at Dulles International airport despite my flight being 4 hours late. I was greeted in my apartment by my new roommate and Jaganath. The first morning was painful, memories of good times back home flashed in my mind. It was great feeling to finally walk to campus without having to wait for the shuttle. I went straight to work and gave Dave Kennedy the gift ( a small dress), I had bought for his daughter. I had bought a chunari for Miss Jacquie, Mary Scott and Ariana because these women had my life wonderful.

As days passed by, I was missing home and was back to square one( the same state I was in when I had first arrived to USA in Fall 06). My weekends used to be spend watching movies and speaking with parents for hours at night on skype. This was a time to grow up and work hard rather than brood over leaving home.I did not realize that I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pursue the American dream. I was fortunate enough to meet people to take inspiration from.

My first meeting with Rauf Ahmad, (I called him Rauf Bhai) was a professional one. He had set up my workstation at work . As days went by, I used to bump into him frequently. He used to drop in Miss Jacquie’s office for casual talks and all of us used to have a nice time. On his wedding anniversary, he was kind of emotional but had a smile on his face, which was genuine and refreshing. Here I was brooding over coming back to USA leaving my friends and family and there was Rauf bhai who was staying away from his family for almost ten years .He believes he can bring his family to USA and is working towards it. He is not brooding. He is slogging it out, with a smile on his face harboring a dream to get his family to USA.

Ankit Nagarsheth was one of my classmates and he turned out to be an extraordinary guy, who knew exactly what he wanted. He told me to take this experience of being in USA to work on my personality and to make myself independent. I never expected such words of wisdom to come from him but was glad to hear that from him.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 11. Visit to home

I was really excited when I was done with my last exam for the semester because of two reasons: firstly I was done with my first semester of my masters degree and secondly I was excited about going home. It seems funny but the first thing which I did when I bought my assistantship was buying tickets to go home rather than buying a laptop. The frustrating thing was that my exams got over on 12 th December and I was to leave for India on the 29th Dec. So, the wait would drive me nuts at times but it was cool to just go to campus and work and not worry about going to class. However time passed by faster than expected and I was now in the process of buying stuff for my family back home. Rauf bhai had taken me and my roommates Ajay and Kunal to Costco for buying stuff for our families. Ajay was not going to visit India but was sending stuff for his niece, whom he called , Gudiya through Kunal who was to visit India.In the coming days, Ms. Jacquie also helped me buy some cosmetic stuff for my mom which was very kind of her. I still remember carrying all that stuff which I had purchased for my family back to the office and everyone teasing me.Raj did help me buy shoes for my parents and some Tshirts for my brother.

Finally the D day did arrive and I was excited. I remember packing my stuff till the wee hours in the morning and going to sleep with images of how quickly time had gone by. Anoop had helped me a lot in the packing. It seemed just yesterday that I had landed in this country and I was on my way back home in less than 24 hours. I had my breakfast the next day, cleared out my stuff and my roommates were kind enough to help me with my luggage. The supper shuttle was a little bit off time but that gave me more time to talk with my roommates, whom I had once not got along that well with. I was also excited as I was going to move in to a new place when I returned from India and this place was going to be closer to campus.
When the super shuttle did arrive, I hugged my roommates and sat in the car. I had an interesting conversation with the driver. I came to know more about him and it was inspiring to know how he has so seamlessly adapted to this country. He had a family now and was happy. He visited his home country once in a while. The advice, he gave to me, “Study hard when you are in school and make the most of it” seemed to reiterate the advice which my parents and well wishers had given. I even took a photograph of him as a souvenir and he promised to help me buy a car when he had spare time.

The journey started on an odd note. I had to pay 50$ as one of my bags was overweight. I had spent the entire night trying to ensure that none of the bags went over weight but when they did go overweight, I was kind of annoyed. However, I did not let that disturb me and tried to be cheerful. I happened to meet this girl from Israel as I was waiting for my plane and was surprised to know that everyone in Israel had to go through army training. She shared a picture of her in her army clothes with me, which was awesome. Little did I know that a year from then, my life would be changed by my Jewish friends.

The mp3 player which I was going to gift my brother proved to be handy in keeping me entertained when waiting for my flight after the girl from Israel left for her flight. It felt great when I was seated at my seat in my plane. I was happy and excited. As the engine roared and the plane gained momentum to take off, I closed my eyes and thanking God for making this possible. The funding for my tuition, me making it through my first semester and now being able to visit home seemed like a fairy tale. It is really rare for students to go back home when they have just come into the states 4 months ago. Students normally visit their homes after a year and a half.
I started conversing with this gentleman who was seated next to me. He seemed a man in his fifties with golden frame glasses. I forgot where exactly he was heading but it was interesting to hear his story. He started as a simple worker who used to fix pipes in US. He did not even know how to speak in English. However, he was good at what he did and always told employers, ”I can get this done”. He told about this incident where he took up the challenge of fixing the pipe system in an old school which was undergoing renovation. From that day on, he continued to get his work done on time and eventually build up a reputation and over the years now owns a company. He has a wonderful family with two young sons and is happy. This person was a shining example of the belief; I had, ‘If you are good at what you do, this country (USA) will appreciate your skill and you will be rewarded’. I took his photograph as a souvenir. We parted ways at Frankfurt.It was amazing to know that he was visiting his home country after 20 years. That seemed like an eternity to me considering my scenario of visiting home within 4 months of being in USA.

I took the connecting flight from Frankfurt to Mumbai and was impressed by Swiss airways. I had not heard much about it and that did help. Before boarding the plane, I did take some photographs of airplanes taking off from the airport.When on board the swiss airways flight, I was happy when I found out that I had a window seat. The plane took off in a few minutes and I enjoyed some breath taking views of the beautiful landscape which Frankfurt had to offer. On the plane, I happened to meet this gentleman by the name Prashant who was returning to India following his project work in Amsterdam.We hit it off well discussing about our academic backgrounds and future career prospects. There was this beautiful girl seated just behind my seat.I so wish, someone like that had sat next to me. Having wishes like that, I had no problems with Prashant. He was a fine gentleman, very well mannered and was fun to talk with. I happened to watch Polar Express on the plane and kind of enjoyed it. The food served on the plane kept me awake for most of the journey.I experienced a sudden bolt of excitement in me when I heard the flight captain announce, "We will be landing in Mumbai in another 30 minutes." I saw how wonderful the city looked at night from the sky and I did not realize how quickly those 30 minutes went by.When the plane finally landed, I could not wait to be at my home.I went through all the custom formalities and saw my mom appear out of nowhere as I was waiting for my luggage. Mr. Saif Ali Khan, famous Bollywood actor also seemed to be there with his girlfriend and seemed to attract a lot of attention. I was happy when I had all my luggage on the trolley and my mom could not stop kissing me. We knew someone who worked in the customs, so we were fine. Having said that I was not smuggling gold or something illegal but the thought of having someone from within just seemed comforting.I saw my dad and my younger brother waiting outside. My dad told me, that I had lost weight. I got in to the van which my parents had hired and felt back at home feeling the humidity, the roads, seeing the people. I gave the mp3 player to my brother which I had purchased for him.I had carried it with me to pass it off as my personal mp3 player. Within 30 mins, I was home. Flashes of me leaving my home 4 months ago swept across my eyes. Standing at the entrance of the building surrounded by my family members and neighbors, posing for photographs, my huge travel bags being taken to the van..everything seemed to come before my eyes. Four months ago, when I had left my home with the ambition of pursuing the american dream of being rich and earning money, little had I expected that I would be back in 4 months. I had been lucky. The guard who sat at the entrance of the building, where I stayed recognized me immediately.He helped us with the luggage. When my dad opened the door to our house, I saw my granny eagerly waiting for my arrival. I hugged her and it felt good. It took some time for the feeling to sink in that I had finally arrived home.

I could not sleep that night.I got up at 6:30 am in the morning. That was a rare phenomenon.my granny was up and in middle of something. I had the wonderful tea prepared by my granny and saw the sunrise. The rays of the sun lite our hall room. I went back in time and images from my childhood kept flashing in my mind.I remembered the efforts I had put in during my engineering studies and a smile appeared across my face. Those sleepless nights, irregular eating times, studying with an obsession and determination to be the best seemed to have just happened yesterday. I decided to go on a morning walk.
I visited my old high school and felt nostalgic about it. I could picture myself walking nervously to my classroom on my first day in the school. Those awkward and funny moments during Physical training class and the football match which I played with my classmates on the last day of our school.I stood at the entrance of my school for quite some time, remembering all the good memories , friends I had associated with it. On my way back home, I did visit temples and prayed, and thanked God for everything I had got so far.

The next few days went by at an alarmingly fast rate.I normally spent the evenings trying my hand at the guitar and observing my mom cook food. I was determined to learn cooking this time as I had been a big flop when it came to cooking. I especially enjoyed hanging out with Amar and old friends. My good friend Vicky was to head to Australia for his further studies in a few weeks time. We were all excited for him.On the eve of Vicky's departure to Australia, all of us decided to go out and give him a memorable send off.Vicky's girlfriend had also joined us for the evening. She was kind of emotional throughout the evening and crying at sporadic intervals. I did not blame her. Time went by and finally we decided to call it a night after a series of photograph sessions. We dropped Vicky's girlfriend at her place and then headed home. On our way back home,one of the cops told us to stop and show vehicle papers. I was seated behind Bhavik who was riding the bike. Bhavik did not have the vehicle papers and was trying to solve the problem by making it more complicated. Vicky intervened at the right time and somehow after some monetary negotiation with the cop, the cop let us go. It was kind of frightening, the prospect of being in prison for no fault of mine but its only in India that you can get away as long as you talk your way out and have some money; things ease out.

We drove Vicky to the airport and gave him a good send off. Everyone was crying as he was about to leave.His mom did not cry but I could see that she was controlling it and trying to give her son confidence. Vicky's grandmom was in tears and I was feeling bad for her. I thought of my grandmother when I saw tears in her eyes. Right from childhood, my grandmother had been like a godmother to me. She had pampered me through years and I could not imagine a single day without her. Vicky had a similar upbringing to mine and I could imagine what he was feeling. While it seems a great prospect to go abroad to pursue studies, it is painful from within when you have to pack your bags and leave your home, your country, your friends to pursue a dream. I had a great time flying kites all day long on Sankranti. Sankranti, was one of my favorite festivals since childhood. It was a day, where you could fly your kite and cut another kites in air. The good thing about Sankranti was that it bought people together. We lived in an apartment complex. We were close to our neighbors. We used to share our dinners and often go out on weekends. However, during Sankranti, everyone who lived in the apartment complex, used to come to the terrace to fly kites and it was great. There is loud music playing in the background , not to mention the delicious dinner at the end of the day. There are few things, which I am good at and flying kites is one of them. The funny thing was people looked at me in a different way.They looked at me more as a US return and an interesting person to talk to, which was funny.

We visited Tirupati for a couple of days. Tirupati is a holy place in India, where people from all over the world come to offer their prayers. It is said that if you ask anything from the bottom of your heart, God(Lord Balaji) will listen to you. My family has been going to Tirupati on a regular basis. I was keen on going to Tirupati to thank God for the funding and the way things had shaped up in my life. It was a sweet trip with mom and dad. It kind of brought all of us together and we were happy to get a good darshan.

We did pay a visit to my grandparents(Mom's parents) in Hyderabad. It was a one day trip but well worth it. I always treated my grandparents like Gods because of the way they lead their lives. They were married for over 50 years and they were the symbol of true love for me. They got up at 5 in the morning everyday. Grandpa used to go for morning walks and granny used to have his tea ready by the time he was back. After Grandpa was done with his tea and watching the news, they used to watch Devotional shows or listen to devotional songs. I was happy to see my grandparents and touched their feet as soon as I arrived at their home. My mom's elder sister was living with them for few days; so it was good times. Having a laptop makes things simpler and easier. We watched the movie, 'Munnabhai Lageyraho' on my laptop and Grandpa liked it. We went shopping in the evening and had a small photo session before leaving. An entire day had just passed by. I touched my grandparents feet again and left for home hopping I could stop time.

The next few days were emotionally painful. I did visit all my family relatives this time, answering the same questions all over again. I enjoyed visiting amee's( my dad's elder sisters) house. My cousin sister had got married and she had a beautiful daughter. They called her Deeshita and she was the prettiest thing in the world. With just a few days left to go home, I was already feeling the need to ditch America and stay at home. However, I had to finish my education and it would be stupid and immature to quit. After having one last walk in my local colony, I was set to return to USA. This may sound funny but Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire, called,' Kaun banega correrpatti dwetiya' aired on the same night, I was to leave.Shah Rukh Khan was going to host the new season.

The drive from home to airport was emotional. I was in no mood to return to the USA. There was more drama at the airport. When I was checking in my bags, the airlines official asked me if I could stay back as the flight was almost full. I was more than happy because it would mean one more day of being with my family, eating the delicious food etc. I called my parents and told them that I might come back home as the airlines official had put me on standby. I spend the next hour at the airport hopping, for the flight to be full. Unfortunately, like always in my life, it did not turn out that way. The airlines official told me that there was one seat left and I had to go. It was kind of emotional, when I called my parents and told them, I was not coming home as the airline officials had found me a seat on the flight. Fast forward the custom checks, I was in my plane and tears rolled down my checks. I thought of all the wonderful things, I had experienced over the course of the past 3 weeks and did not know why I was in the flight going to USA, when true happiness lied in being home with friends and family.