My first few days in Boulder were nice. I was busy and had enough to do in terms of loitering about and meeting people apart from Univ work that it just did not feel odd. But yesterday, when I woke up, it felt somewhat odd. I woke up quite late to an empty house and a knot in my stomach…
All day, despite being with friends, I felt odd. After all, there’s only so much that friends can do specially since they probably don’t know you’re in an odd state of mind…
In the evening, I talked to my brother and in just a few short words, he told me something that holds true to the point that in no time, I knew that everything will be OK no matter what. He said –
It’s just a matter of time,
When things fall in line
and everything will be fine
and that’s just a rhyme!
For some reason, we forget that there are a lot of people whom we think are not approachable or that we cannot express ourselves to them. But we can and should. There’s always going to be help, from friends or family or even some random stranger writing on a Blog…
It’s tough being in a new place completely on your own, even if it doesn’t hit you immediately or you’re not able to express it properly… But it’s not impossible to pass through it unharmed. Just reach out and get someone to hear you out in any way possible!
Ok, it’s our Independence day. It’s the day when India gained the freedom to make it’s own mistakes, to quote what Gandhiji had said once…
But I was not celebrating independence today. Woke up at 11 AM(11:30 PM in India, half an hour to the Midnight of that dawned…) and realized that the software companies in India had finished celebrating our Independence on the 14th as it was a working day. Then I got dressed and with a few friends, went out to Wal-Mart, apparently the most famous and amazingly cheap store of the US. The concept of Wal-Mart is inspiring but it’s fodder for another blog post, so, later…
The Bill was about $78 for three people(reason- we had a girl in our midst!).
While returning, we boarded a bus from outside Wal-Mart and told the driver to take us to the closest Bus Station. When we had settled, the driver started the bus and without turning, softly said to us three Indians- Happy Independence Day.
I looked at the driver. He was an American. He was educated. He was an educated enough American to know that three Indians had boarded his bus. He did not assume that we were Pakistanis. He knew for sure that we were Indians. I know this as he said that Pakistan had gained independence a day before us and all he had noticed was that we were speaking in Hindi.
So here I was, sitting in the heart of the US of A with two Indian friends and getting wished by an American on a date which is of grave consequence for every Indian and which we had completely forgotten about. For a second, it was a haze. Was this true? Was this happening? Really? Wow.
I looked at my friends. They were as amazed as I was. This was weird beyond a great degree. I talked to the driver a bit more. He knew a bit about India but a lot more than one would expect him to know. He knew we had a bit of a tiff with the Chinese. He knew we had a nuclear bomb, though not the year when we got it. That was a piece of fact even I didn’t remember! He even had a stereotypical view about some clans in India. I was glad to clarify that India has never been a nation of Attackers but instead defenders. We only retaliated in case there was a threat against us. He was glad to have to talked to me. I was still in shock when our destination came.
I got down. The air was fresh, the wind was a light breeze and caressed my face with a loving touch. The sky was a deep blue color with the clouds playing with the setting sun. This was a foreign nation. Back in my country, people we getting up and wishing each other a Happy Independence Day. I looked at my friends and wished them a Happy Independence Day, with a twist.
Today I shifted into my new apartment at Wimbledon Apartments, Boulder… Apart from the fact that there’s no one else there(my roomies have not shifted), All is well… For some reason, ever since I’ve come to the US, this phrase has become a favorite…
I’m putting up a few pics…
Enjoy the Slide show… The last few pics are of my first real home food purchase in the US… Milk and corn flakes… 🙂
The Bill is also included there… about $5.47…
My newly shifting neighbor has already mistaken my name to be Nathan instead of Nitin… Didn’t feel like correcting him as I was in a hurry to make the pilgrimage to the Univ… No net at home till Tuesday… And now am sitting here without a power backup as I forgot the India to US power converter at home…
That neighbor was having people over for a housewarming party… I don’t know when I’ll be having mine but one thing is sure, there’s no food in the fridge and no furniture at home and thus, tomorrow, is Wal-Mart day!
Yes, it did. But not on our dreams and aspirations. Rather on us. It was beautiful rain. Soft, drizzly at first and slightly harsh later. Not something which would make me regret being out in the open but just perfect. Of course I’m getting ahead of myself. First of all…
Train! A Train! A Whole TRAIN!!! I still cannot believe that underneath the Denver International Airport, they have a whole damn train!!!! It goes from one end to the other, taking passengers from any terminal to the next and even to a completely separate Luggage Collection Area where people can just pick up their stuff and move out to catch transport. First time I’ve seen anything like this, a completely dedicated train service just for passengers travelling through the airport and I am amazed!!!
Next up, Boulder. If you take a cycle and start on one end of Boulder, you can cross its breadth in about an hour of slow sightseeing! Boulder may be a small town but it’s extremely scenic and it’s beauty reflects in the attitude of the people. It’s rush hour and there’s traffic on both sides of the road. A few cyclists have just come to one side and are waiting on the pavement for a break in the traffic so they can cross. Suddenly, traffic on both sides comes to a complete halt. The people in their expensive cars are waiting for the cyclists on University-rented bikes to cross. Awestruck, I peddle forward with two of my friends, the cycle groaning under me. It’s a good concept. The University loans out bicycles to Regular students of CU-Boulder for 2 days for free. The students have a means of transport and can easily appreciate the good nature of the people of Boulder and the city controls the urges of students to buy cars to commute from one end to another.
But, I save the best for the last. Boulder has pine cones and mulberry trees both in the gap of a few feet. I love pine cones but there’s nothing comparable to the Mulberry and its soft deliciousness lingers on my tongue for long.
Even before the journey started, I had envisioned writing about how I’ve found Riverdale, the place where Archie and his friends reside, in this peaceful College Town. I’m happy to say that I haven’t.
Recently, I was in a shopping mall heading towards McDonald’s for a dinner. As I walked past a showroom, I noticed an odd occurrence. Three Men, holding each other by the arms were walking in a straight line. One look and I had dismissed this sight. But then I paused and looked at them again. Here were the three blind men, white sticks in hand, goggles covering their eyes at 9 in the night, walking steadily in the middle of the mall.
I went over to them and inquired as to where they were headed. They said they wanted to go to the loo and the lead amongst them confirmed from me that it was in the direction ahead. I corrected him by saying in a matter of fact way that he would have to turn to the right after walking down a bit further. He thanked me and started heading out in the initial direction. Instantly, it occurred to me that in the most insensitive way, I had told them the directions but not the distances. I latched on to the first one and took them to the corner where they had to turn right and pointed them on to start walking in the said direction. Again, they thanked me and started off. Satisfied that I had done a good job, I walked off but stopped before having gone more than a few steps. I cussed at myself for being that stupid and ran back to them in order to guide them further to the exact door. When I reached, they were fumbling around a fire escape, looking for the correct door. Many onlookers were passing by them, surprised to see them try to find their way in the maze of objects and paths we “sighted” people take for granted. Before I could reach though, another fellow had arrived and helped them get to the restroom. I realized as I looked from a distance that it was the lead who alone had to go to the loo but the other two had no option than to follow him. They stopped at the door and waited for him to return.
As I walked off, a thought came to my mind. As the world around us progresses and technology allows us to become greater than ourselves, the society we live in does not change, the plight of the people does not change and the conditions which affect us do not change. We may be running after cures for cancer and aging but the blind man still cannot see and the deaf can still not hear. There is technology to enable them in doing these too, but that technology is not available to the present at a price which does not hit the pride of the man bearing the cost. Those blind men were not in rags but seemed suitably dressed. A poor blind man would have been stopped at the doors of the mall and forced to look for a loo elsewhere but the guard let them in and guided their path too, in his own insensitive way. That goes to say that the latest gadgets which help the blind(no euphemisms here, say it as it is) are within their reach but not there yet.
As a tech enthusiast and a software programmer, I can say that anything is possible in the world of technology. As a hardware designer and a practical man, I can say that we are not looking at the right ventures. I can blame many for not following up on this, from Steve Jobs to the Indian Government, but till some brilliant yet cheap technology comes into the possession of these disabled people, let’s make sure that the three blind men you see on the road next time reach home safely. Let us make sure that the stark contrast between consumerism of the most blatant kind and the simple reality that life has not yet changed despite Science’s greatest contributions be diminished by Humanism, for that too is as simple as extending your hand and guiding the path of those who cannot see.
So here I am, with my weekly load of clothes to wash at the Infosys Bangalore Laundry. This service, of course, is the pinnacle of comfort for Bachelors like me who can’t wash a cloth to save the world! But, the realisation of the same is that, just like me, there are thousands of other people who feel similarly comforted by knowing that there’s a Laundry available. This, of course, means that time and machines are at a premium here and there’s a virtual fight being fought to get to a washing machine.
So here I am and I am waiting for a machine to empty out so that I can put my clothes in and let the magic begin. The machine for which I am waiting is going to take about 17 minutes to finish the current wash cycle and then only will the owner of those clothes come and save me from dirty laundry. But what is this? There is another machine in the vicinity and that’s going to take 16 minutes to finish the cycle! What’s even more amazing is that no one has noticed this and there is no queue for that machine. Immediately, the calculations in my mind bring me to the conclusion that 1 minute save is 1 minute invested and I quickly rush to claim this gold mine before anyone else does. Now I sit here primly, waiting for this machine to finish in 16 minutes and lead me to salvation.
They say that the Grass is always greener on the other side. They don’t tell you that on the other side they use paint to make the grass look greener. They say a bird in hand in worth two in the bush. They don’t tell you that the one in hand is tastier than the two in the bush. They tell you that the machine will finish the wash in 16 minutes, while it takes 25 minutes to do the task!
As you may have guessed, as the minutes passed by, I realised that the ‘new’ machine I had invested my time in is taking longer to complete the cycle than the one I left. The time now is 9 minutes on my machine and 4 on the other. It seems, almost, that the machine I will soon be using has ‘more seconds per second’, that is, it is spending more than a second to do a second’s task. Impossible isn’t it?? After all, they’re both the same machines and run on the same power! Then how can two machines be in any way different when they simply are not?!
I guess there really is no explanation for this. I guess my machine was indeed taking more ‘seconds per second’ than any other in the Landry. The final truth is that I spent more time doing laundry that day than I usually do. That indeed, was a very strange tragedy of time!
I am aware that it has been many months since I have Blogged and obviously a lot has been going on in that much time(shifting to Infosys, Mysore; completion of Infy training; posting to Bangalore; getting a project). But there are certain moments in life which often take precedence over many a months of work. One such event occurred on a flight from Bangalore to Delhi on 23rd April 2010 when I was coming home to Chandigarh for a quite holiday with my family. I had been pondering upon the question as to whether truly making phone calls from within an aircraft can cause a disturbance in their communications or was it just a hoax created by airlines who wanted people to use the onboard phone lines which they provide at a premium to their users. I had concluded that the second was more plausible as airlines have always had a dearth of money and need all that extra revenue they can get.
Obviously, the person sitting next to me disagreed with my thoughts and as the plane prepared for take off and I pushed ‘Send’ on my mobile to send the last message before I went into roaming, he requested me calmly to switch off the mobile. I, being my haughty self, told him that I, being an electronics engineer knew better than him and could saw with confidence that since mobiles and airline communications worked at different frequencies, there was no way possible that my mobile could affect the flight in any way. I had noted the tone in which he had requested me to switch off my cellphone- it was calm but stern and it felt that he had done this exercise many times earlier too. Thus it seemed fit for me to snub him in such a way. But upon hearing me say my qualifications, he took greater interest in my argument and asked me to expain my side of the debate.
Here I knew I had two choices- spend the flight fighting with this fellow about how much I knew about Communications(or how little, after all, what quality is left in today’s engineering courses!) OR accept that he knows more than me and ask for his knowledge. Lucky for me, i chose the latter, as this Radio Engineer knew more about our current debate than I could have ever imagined.
He explained that it is not the calls or the smss which bothers the airlines much but instead, the small ElectroMagneticPulse(EMP) generated by our mobiles which can disrupt the electronics circuits onboard. This is a very small chance with the new and advanced circuits coming into use nowadays but as always, in terms of space and air travel, it’s much better to be safe than really sorry. He further commented that in his time the biggest fight was against EMP and the biggest contest was to be able to transmit voice across the globe at less than 10 Watt power.
Ah! It was good to finally hear this explanation from someone who was confident and direct about the facts instead of just saying that it’s part of the rules and at the end of the flight I thanked him, Ashwat Dharampuri, Managing Director of W. Diamant India Ltd, a unit of Winterstone, an international diamond tool manufacturing company and walked off the flight content that I had learnt something new simply by opening my mouth and showing my ego to someone who I knew would educate me instead of cursing me.
A positive thought by a dear friend of mine was recently posted on Facebook. It was indeed, a beautiful thought about the amazing power of Love to disregard any fallacies or blemishes in the nature or character of the person you love deeply. That is because it is true that when you become completely vulnerable to a person, expose yourself completely and let Love fill up all the vacancy in your heart, a few flaws will not stop you from loving ever more. You can see that prime example in our parents. Most of them are from an arranged marriage, an institution where you never know what narrow mindedness or insecurities lie at the back of your partners head and from the time where our parents come, the dictionaries did not hold the word divorce. Does this mean that they are not happy and always fighting?? Not at all. That is the beauty of their alliance. They accepted the other person with open arms and an open heart, truly showing their broadmindedness and believed in their lawfully wedded partner, giving them a chance to love deeply and strongly. These only, later on become the qualities of a good parent, loving their child enough to overlook the small errors they make yet being responsible enough to set them on the right path.
But what does this mean for the present generation? What does the above discussion tell us about how much do we truly love? I discovered the answer while trying to comment about the beauty and validity of the thought posted by my friend. I wanted to start by saying that I agreed with her and so I started with a “True…” This is where it struck me. My mind is so attuned to thinking in the negative that the only word which could have followed in my line of thought was a ‘But’.But is that the right word?? Masters of Group Discussion often tell us that the polite way of making a point during a GD is to say, “Indeed” or “I agree” or “True” and then append your thought after that, because you acknowledge the previous person’s contribution and yet go on to make your point clear. The sum total of that comes out to be, “True, And…” However, my thoughts were coming to be “True, But…”
Indeed, that is a dilemma, wanting to say Yes but ending up saying No. I sat there,thinking for a minute about what I wanted to say but not quite able to form a decision, left dumbfounded by the fact that my thoughts were negative even in the glaring face of positivity and happiness. I worried about what could be inferred from this discovery and what it meant for my counterparts all over the world. Does it mean that we are doomed to become extremely negative faced with extreme environmental conditions both natural and psychological? Does it mean that there is a limit after which everything the mind sees it believes there to be a downside to? Does it mean that the years of violence both in games and in the News, of competitive nature in sports and studies alike, of believing in the amount of harm of Allopathic medicine and the impotence of Alternative ones and of studying the great World Wars yet starting new ones, has left Man dumb towards the beauty and magic of Nature, solemn to the glory of Man and a polar opposite to the Positivity of Hope, the essence of Humanity? If it has, then there is no knowing when this fragile mind will crumble under a set of beliefs which would sicken any psychiatrist. Because the true Question here is whether you will add an “And” or a “But”. Because that will tell us what we are thinking and how we are reacting to Life. Because that will tell us whether there is Hope.
After a lot of thought, I simply typed in the following words… “True… and beautiful!”
I have left Chandigarh. The City where I was born and lived for 8 years. I was born in Chandigarh and at the age of 1, I moved out of it, on a Vanwaas of 13 years, moving from one end of the country to another, visiting, living in and growing up with every corner of the Indian Nation. After these 13 years I was back to where I had started, in Chandigarh. I settles there to complete my education, from Class 10th till the end of my Engineering degree. I spent the last 7 years in Chandigarh, growing up with it, although Chandigarh refused to grow with me, opting instead to be the Old Man watching the Young flourish in it’s care, willing to satisfy my curiosity yet keeping me well protected within it’s wings.
If Open Skies were the limit, Humans would have gone everywhere
I lived the past 7 years without much remorse, without much pain and even less regret. I did things every foolish teenager does, speeding through life, gambling away good fortune yet keeping a distance from responsibility. I angered many, enchanted a few and made a lot of friends, out of which only a select few will stay on with me in my life, guiding my path with small, unnoticeable inputs. But most importantly, I lived the past 7 years without a plan, with a care for tomorrow and without ever really thinking which moves will I need to make to ensure one end or another to my reckless ideas which came and went with the Monsoons. I did not plan and I did not foresee. I just moved with the flow. When it came to choosing my stream in Class 11th, I went where convention took me, into the Sciences, that too without Medical. Further, when time came to select My Engineering stream and College, I stuck to Chandigarh although I had gotten Patiala first. I took Electronics because I thought Computer Science to be too easy and not enough of a Challenge. Besides that, when recently someone asked me why I had joined Electronics and what my favorite subject was, I had no answer.
Now, I am at a point in my Life where the next few months have been charted out by Infosys. Yet, Life has many twists and turns. I can never forget Chandigarh, who’s sights and smells are embedded in my mind, imprinted on my soul and have affected my thinking like nothing else has ever before. Still, I move on, in search of the next adventure. I have not, for myself, planned out the next 7 years of my life, although I have a brief outline in my mind. There is a Tomorrow, blurred and fuzzy, but very Real and perhaps, very interesting. All I say to my Life is that in moving out of Chandigarh, I took a big step, a giant leap of Faith, moving away from my comforts to a new beginning, which will spawn a new end as Destiny will command. All I say to my Life is that I have chosen carefully, what to do in my turn, my only message to it now is,
I went to the hostel today, just to clear out a few things I had kept over there while having moved out to live separately. What I did not realize was that those weren’t a few things which I had chosen to leave, they were a whole Life of me which I had gotten cut-off from since I moved out. Among the important ones were a whole set of my writings which I have never published simply because I never got the time to do so. Also, all my work related to Politics and Philosophy, topics upon which I had deliberated a lot during the course of the first and second years of college and which I had felt were life changing, lay there like a distant past of which I had no recollection, just the knowledge that a few pages with my handwriting were kept there, protected even from my own self, never to be further thought about. About these Ideas and Ideals to which I had once subscribed, I would like to say today that –
“If Man wants, he can include Philosophy into his Life, thus making it a Never-ending Quagmire of Thought, Self-Doubt and the Reassurance that Man is Superior to Animal”
after Four years of Engineering, it has come as no surprise to me that I now believe in Hard Work more than ever. As I step into the part of my Life where I will be a part of the Corporate World, I have now this notion-
“The Simplest and Most effective way for a Person to live is to Work. Nothing else is as Important as working hard. And working hard is what makes Life easier than ever.”
Deliberations on Philosophy and Politics are indeed habits of those who have the Luxury of wasting their time in making their Lives Complicated. The Simple way of Life does not involve these, just a clear understanding of what a Person’s work is and what the resultant thoughts and beliefs are.
In digressing from the topic of cleaning up my Hostel room, I wanted to ensure that the thoughts that went through my mind when I was arranging my things together were noted down. However, the more important detail is about what all I found there.
The second Important thing I found there were some of my clothes. I got very nostalgic when I saw them, discussing with my roommate Lalit the amazing journey I made from being a size 32 waist to a size 38! I know I am fat right now and I am less than proud of it. But it is an amazing thing for me to see myself as a lean, weak boy with cheeks sunk deep into my cheekbones as opposed to a well rounded man with chubby cheeks and friends who keep reminding me that I must join the gym!
It is not everyday that One gets to look at their past and present in such a glaringly contrasting way, but this insight was amazing and has made me rethink a lot about what were my thoughts and beliefs when I was two years less-experienced than I am today and I now ponder over whether in the fierceness of my devotion to my Ideals, I was believing in the right things or not…
After all, today I am happy to be an Engineer, but at some point, I wanted to be a Politician!
p.s. I promise that those unseen writings of mine will be put up soon, complete with my favorite creative commons license!