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US: +1 651-246-8988 | INDIA: +91 080 41234927 | WHATSAPP: +91 6366 834954

As the days pass…

Hey y’all!
Yeah yeah, call me a traitor or whatever. This is me speaking in my newly acquired Southern drawl. Well, not really, I haven’t changed quite that much since my last post but I’m trying to fit in, language and all that jazz. I mean When in Rome… you know the rest.
So anyways, almost a week has passed since the STEAM group landed in the US and its been one hell of a journey. We have established certain set routines like having lunch at the same pizza parlour every day and eating at Chipotle at least once in a day. Other than that, we are slowly learning to say twenny instead of twenty more of an occupational hazard than we could have ever imagined and saying trash instead of dustbin (one of our first lessons in American lingo). Yes, we still make the occasional faux pas and then laugh it off knowing that time is the best teacher but we are leaning and learning fast at that. They don’t call Asians- the smart race for nothing right? Along the way, we are also learning a bit more about the way Americans live- breaking stereotypes of our own creation and breaking some of their notions about us as well.
I’m in a class of 12, all of whom are Americans- all from the University and all extremely eager to hear my perspective on the issues discussed daily in class. I’m a little pressurized by the expectation that I’m supposed to have a point of view because apparently I come from a nation whose citizens are socially conscious and culturally aware-APPARENTLY and I have to constantly remind myself and sometimes them as well- that I really don’t have all the answers- nor do I fit into the box of a nerdy brown kid. I mean I’m just me- back home I don’t need to identify myself with a color or a type. Here, its a lot harder. I could be mediocre back home (not suggesting in anyway that I am AND I’m not) and nobody would bat an eyelid. Here, its a lot harder. On the one hand, I enjoy the attention and special focus my skin color or my immigrant status provides me but on the other I want to shout out- I’m just like YOU!!! I listen to rock music, I party a lot more than I should (sometimes), I bunk a little, I fight with my parents and I don’t always know what I want or the path my life is taking. I’m a little confused, a little conflicted and as confident as you, if not more. I’m not religious, my life doesn’t revolve around eating Indian food or just interacting with Indian folks and my knowledge of American pop culture or 90210 quite possibly rivals yours. In short, the two questions I ask myself everyday as I leave for class- Do I want to be me or do I want to be “special”, a point of interest, a new face in town.This is a struggle as well as a revelation in certain ways. It give me a greater insight into WHO I AM and also clarifies WHO I WANT TO BE PERCEIVED AS. I like to sit at cafes alone quietly watching people (quirks and all- there’s this one homeless singer guy who constantly makes a pass at passers by and seems drunk almost all the time) and sometimes I wish I had a friend for the 3 hours I’m alone after my class. But I do enjoy the relative solitude. I mean if one has to be alone- the beautiful, vast and lush green university campus is the place to be alone in.
I was asked at the beginning of this program by Jen Wahlquist of The International Knowledge Center about 3 things I want to achieve through this experience or 3 goals that I have for this trip. Now after I’m here finally and have spent a few days exploring the city and feeling the vibe of the place- I can clearly highlight my 3 goals for this trip. I would like to share them with y’all.
A) I want to take back a little of the US with me- Sounds vague, I know but this is probably the goal that is most clear in my head.When I go back, yeah I don’t want to change completely but I do want to be able to tell friends and family that I know certain things that they don’t as yet. I want to be able to smile at random strangers in coffee shops, at laundromats and expect a smile back. I want to be able to meet people in elevators and strike a conversation about everything from the weather to what I ate for breakfast. I want to be nicer to old people, open doors for people in wheelchairs and wish someone a good day without feeling like a complete nut case. Mostly I want to be more neighborly.
We all without exception can with great definiteness assert that the smiles of strangers is what initially shocked us and now warms our hearts wherever we go. Its a distinctly western phenomenon- at least according to me. My first journal entry had a quote inspired by this warmth around me -I’d like to end my entry with it- it goes thus-

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”
 
I have more goals- remember I’d mentioned 3 but to keep you guys coming back, they will form a part of my next post. Adios, till we meet again. :)

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