Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Indiana University Bloomington

Tall green trees, buildings well laid amidst a lot of vegetation, Nice huge lamp-posts, and walkways that make walking or cycling such a delight, the Indiana University Bloomington campus sure is a beautiful one.

That's me.

C h i c a g o !

My cousin's place at peaceful Wheaton

Towards Downtown Chicago

My Cousin Manoj

The Michigan Lake Beach, The Hancock tower behind me.

America's Tallest: The Sears tower

Millennium Park

Millennium park

A huge steel installation at Millennium Park

Each Tower is Tall

Beautiful Downtown.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

America, I am here. To stay ?

I am at Chicago, at my cousin's place. He's a nice man and I am having a good time here. Landing here at O'Hare International airport, though I had the burden of postponing the connecting flight to Indianapolis, which I eventually missed, on my mind, I was happy that I was making my transition into the Western world, having had continental chicken and sauted vegetables for lunch, fruit flavoured yoghurts made in Germany for all meals, reading J.M.Coetzee's Youth (I've mostly read Indian authors before), landing midway at Frankfurt airport and flying across the Atlantic for the first time. A plane ride sure does boost your esteem, you do feel important. I was happy about my first International one, until I realised I had indeed been taken for a ride. I was robbed.

Even as my father would keep advising me to learn from others' experiences, I seem to have a knack for learning things first hand. Adding to the list of new things learned by myself would be, how to claim for lost travelers cheques, what to do if you find your cash stolen from your baggage and how to lodge a complaint with Air India. And these lessons are costly. I will recover my travelers cheques for 1000 USD, but little hope on the 800 dollars cash. And then, there's the feeling that your first international flight was rather jinxed. Surprisingly, the first time I discovered the loss, I didn't react any vehemently. Possibly because, I was expecting it after having heard stories about thefts on Air India's baggage transfer. And maybe, because I was also tired.

As it began to sink in the next day, I was haunted by feelings of what if, why had I put the cash in my baggage, why didnt I spend some time learning how to program that number lock on my bag and other such things. More than anything, it's the feeling of being helpless that troubles me, all I was doing was asking politely if anything could be done, how I wish I could demand action. Anyway, my father was handling that part.

I told myself that it was less than a two-month stipend, to remain calm. While on the value of money, I was at Barnes and Noble bookstore yesterday to while away time, and I was thinking how costly the books were at over 12$ when you could get the same book for Rs.250 in India. But, A simple meal eaten out for one costs around half that price, around 5$.(For the record, my cousin's taken me to Potbelly's Sandwich works and Noodle bar, both times the food tasted wonderful.) So that way, maybe you don't have to think too much about buying a book, equivalent to around two meals. In India, the same 250 is equivalent to around 5 meals for one, so it is actually a larger amount there, as I see it now. That's what is striking to me about the US, if you are earning in dollars, most things are affordable. Cars, laptops and other things are available for not more than two months salary unlike in India where they are perceived as long term investment. But, being the Indian I am my first urge would still be to multiply the dollar figure with 50, to decide whether or not to make a purchase. Maybe, only until I start earning in dollars.

Some of you reading this are maybe already conjecturing, that this fellow's sure to stay back in the US. It's too early anyway.

There are certain warning signs though that might mean I'd return. For one, I feel intimidated here. The Americans are all hefty and well-built, and so confident, and if I have to make an impression here and keep up my self-esteem, I'd have to improve physically and emotionally. And the positive thing is that of what I've seen, the Americans are friendly people. I will put my best foot forward. For the second, I heard my first news story about sniper shooting yesterday, and to think of it, it was in North Indiana. Bloomington's in South Indiana. I guess I'll have to license a gun.

I'll be heading to Bloomington, that very beautiful campus town, rated among the most liveable places in America by some magazine, this weekend. I know I'll enjoy the US!