Sunday, August 12, 2007

A year in the USA

Aug 7th was the anniversary of my landing in the United States. It was a year that was quick.

A year of staying away from home. A year of tasting my own broth, cooking Cauliflowers, Tomatoes or Capsicums in a one-method-for-all manner, with obviously mixed results. A year of dollars, quarters, dimes and cents. A year of watching some great movies, courtesy the university library and Netflix. A year of making the transition from studying Computer Science to studying Human Computer Interaction Design. Consequently, a year of design projects and group meetings, a year of romanticizing the idea of being a “Designer” (a wonderful notion that really made my days at times) and sometimes living it. And as with other years, a year of some hopes dashed, and some made.

I had the idea that at the end of the year I would write about the changes that I underwent in the year, and have been thinking about what might have changed in the way I see or do things. Here they are.

One. I have an opinion about everything, or at least I can form one quickly enough. And more importantly, I am more prone to say it now than I was a year back. I was at the contemporary art museum in Denver, trying to tell myself I was more than a philistine. The woman at the counter asked me friendly, “So what did you think about the exhibit?”. “I didn’t make much of it myself, the brochure helped though”, I said rather haughtily, to my own surprise and embarrassment.

I guess it takes longer than a year to shed off your philistine-ness. I’ve been trying hard though, having been at two art fairs, two times to the Denver Art Museum and once to the contemporary art museum (which had only that one exhibit) all in this summer. And considering that I finished the book I was reading on my flight to the USA, J.M.Coetzee’s Youth, on my flight to Denver (that’s over a period of nine months), I have to be more focused if I am indeed to progress beyond philistine-ness (Is that a proper word? To my credit, I finished Arundhati Roy’s The God of small things within a month this Summer, and consequently I have taken a fascination for made-up words, which she makes use of to great effect). Interestingly, Youth is about a young South African who thinks about being a poet, but doesn't make the effort to write. There might be a lesson to take there.

Two. I can talk a little more about myself in conversations. Looking at all the “I”s here, I guess that’s a little more than obvious.

Three. I am less shy to ask for help. “They’ll think I am being nice since I want help”, I would say to myself usually. Now I deliberate a little lesser, I just call or ask.

Four. I might have a better sense of humor. Thinking back, if it were now, my response would have been a little different to the stupid joke one of my classmates at the IIIT played on me. He drew a woman’s breast and asked me what it was. I said “a W with two dots in it”, appalled. I guess I would take it as a joke now, and smile. Probably.

Five. I have no qualms about eating food while walking on the road, or drinking Coca Cola in the classroom. A year ago, I had the now strange seeming idea that either was inappropriate.

And Six. I might have an accent. I guess making fun of people who can’t speak their mother tongue properly after a stint abroad, has some side effects.

But when you meet me, if I come across as having exaggerated these changes, attribute it to my effort to make my writing interesting, or to having put on an act to have you say the rather nice “You haven’t changed”.