Monday, October 6, 2008

Rohit's American Adventure:Chapter 8. My first American party..thank you Steve

My coworker at the previous place where I used to work, Steve Heitlinger had his birthday coming up. I happened to be one of the lucky folks to be invited to his birthday and boy was I excited. I arrived on time for the party and it so happened that I was the first person to arrive at the party. Steve was very friendly and accommodating. He offered me some beer which I politely refused. He took it sportingly. That’s one of the good things, I have observed in USA. People respect your decision to not drink. If I was back home, I am sure people would have bullied me into drinking.

I helped myself to some soda (Colddrink) and we discussed about music, hobbies etc. Steve’s roommate was Joel Ciaccio. I got along well with him too. Steve’s apartment was well furnished. It was a two bedroom apartment and as expected there were two of them living, one in each room. This was so different from the Indian mentality of accommodating as much people as possible in the space available. I am sure there would be four of us living in the same apartment.

As time went by, people started pouring in and in no time the room was full of people. We did play a drinking game which I enjoyed. I drank soda in place of alcohol. After a time, it seemed everyone was drunk and having a nice time. I made lot of friends there that night. Dan Walshaw is one of the people I met that night, with whom the friendship built over time. He volunteered to give me a ride back home. As I told Steve, I was about to leave, he hugged me and thanked me for coming. I just smiled back and mentioned, “The pleasure is all mine, Steve”

On the way back, I was speaking with Dan about how much I felt out of place in USA and this wasn’t what I expected it to be. Dan was patient and listening to everything. He then told the story about his dad, who first came to this country. His dad had no money to stay when he initially arrived, so he spent his days staying in the common lounge of his university. He worked hard over the years and now he is well off. Dan is grateful to where he is now because his dad fought through the tough times, he faced initially. His dad could have easily packed his bags and left for home but he stayed and eventually got what he wanted. Time seemed to have passed by quickly and my home had arrived. I thanked Dan for the ride and more importantly for the inspiring story of his dad.

One of the things America teaches you is to be independent. I came from a background where I was pampered every bit. I never set my foot in the kitchen, never had to worry about laundry, money. All, I did was studying. The education system in India is stressful and demands your complete attention. It is very different from the one in America where there is freedom and flexibility to pursue your interests. My transition was tough as I did not get along well with my roommates initially. It is amazing to see how I changed and became independent. America taught me to appreciate the things I took for granted; the luxury and comfort for home. I now manage my own finances, pay my rent, take care of the laundry, cook food occasionally and try to learn to do new things daily.