BHAAAAG!

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What’s the most fun thing you remember about being in College?
What’s the most fun thing you remember about being a hostler?
What’s the most fun thing you remember about being out late at night with your friends?

Here’s the most fun thing which has happened to me till now in the US –
p.s. It’s a silly thing. Enjoy!

Today, I, along with Shyam and Abhjit, who are my roomies, went to drop off a friend at the bus stand to catch a bus to Longmont. It was a long wait as we arrived at the stand at 9:30 PM while the earliest bus would not be there before 10:10 PM. So, we went in to the closest Burger King and ordered a BK Veggie burger. This time, I confirmed with the staff that the order did not contain any beef/eggs/ham/chicken/meat/fish or any other non-vegetarian food. The lady at the counter looked at me like I was from outer-space but I was more concerned in not repeating an incident as had happened with us at a McDonald’s recently. Good thing that history did not repeat itself.

Then, we waited outside for the bus to arrive, all the while joking and having good fun. Shyam was still feeling hungry and as I write this, he’s put a cooker of rice on the stove. After our friend got on the bus and we all bid good byes, we three musketeers walked off towards our home. It’s been a long first day of studies and we were totally exhausted. In no mood to face the long walk back home, we were looking for a bus which would take us home.

Shyam spotted it first. A beautiful, gleaming, fast bus called the Bound heading in the direction we wanted to go but across the road on the other side. Abhijit spotted it next and by the time I spotted it, they both were sprinting towards the bus. I realized first that the bus had stopped at its stop and would soon be departing as there were not many passengers on that spot.

That is when I shouted,

BHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All hell broke loose and we ran like crazy kids across the road to get to the bus. As we looked on, running with full lungs, the last of the passengers got on the bus and the bus driver closed the doors of the bus. We were still a good ten feet behind and hope was slipping away faster than the air from under our breath. Then I belched again,

ABEY BHAAAAAG!!!!! ROK USSSSSSSEEE!!!!!!!

Shyam put in all his strength and landed right in front of the passenger doors. The driver, a kind fellow who has encountered us mostly at such times on this same route opened the doors and let us in. We all took out our wallets to show him our BuffOne Cards but he had already some sense of who we were and had marked on his ticket device that three CU Students had just got on the bus. We thanked him and sat down, joking and thanking our stars for catching this bus.

We reached 30th & Colorado and got off, thanking the driver profusely for his services. All smiles, we got back home. Another day ends. 🙂

On A Question of Ethics

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This happened a few days ago but I have been delaying writing on this topic primarily since I had requested my friend Shyam Chandrasekar to write on it as a guest speaker on my blog. He has refused my offer and hence, I must write it myself. The reason why he should have written it is that the incident largely involved his resolve to do the right thing.

Few days back, upon a strong craving of ice cream, I and a group of friends had hit Boulder’s Pearl Street to find and plunder the tasty Glacier Ice cream company’s stall. We found a girl managing the stall and asked her for various flavors and made our order. She completed the delivery and whipped out her cellphone to tally the bill and tell us the whole amount but I insisted that she write it down on paper as one of us was going to pay and then everyone would give their share back to that person…

She agreed to the demand and looked around helplessly to find some paper to write on. I took a pen out of my pocket and gave her some tissue paper from her own stall to write down the bill on. She quickly summarized a bill of about $19.40 and I took the money from our today’s bakra(We still need to give our share of the money back to this person!!!) and handed a $20 bill to the girl. She casually commented that it was so late and she was so tired after having studied at the University that her mind was just not working. Having said this, she gave me the change and thus ended our transaction.

As we walked off, my friends enjoyed a nice, cold, tasty ice cream treat at the expense of our bakra while I wondered as to who it really was at whose expense we were really enjoying! You see, there were a total of 6 people in my group and most of us had opted for a single scoop of ice cream with a waffle cone which is slightly costlier than usual. So a total of under $20 was just quite not right. As I pondered over this, my friends chided me for going into deep thought again, as is my habit and asked me to join them in the conversation. I did that, but before doing so, I called Shyam to one side and told him about this dilemma which we now faced. I did not know the correct prices of a waffle cone but I knew that we had under-paid the woman by a huge amount. Shyam too expressed his suspicion of the same and having been more resourceful, quickly summarized the actual bill. We found that we had to pay this vendor a total of $28, that is, we had paid her $8 less!

Now it was time for either action or debate. While Shyam was more interested in the former, I chose the latter and brought the matter out to my friends. I told them that it was a matter of not paying what was due but also reminded them that it may be eight dollars for someone but it’s nearly Four hundred rupees for us! Most of them chimed in with the opinion that we should not pay the money back and someone even went on to say that we’re already paying through our nose just by being here for our studies so why not save some money while we can! While I was enjoying this debate and the reactions of my peers, we were joined by my friend and roommate, Abhjit Kaul, who had till now been talking to his family members on phone. When we told him about our situation, he instantly voted in favor of returning the money, pointing out the most important thing which tipped the scales of the discussion – that it may be eight dollars for us, but it’s an hour’s work for the girl!

That did it. Those reluctant were now quiet and Shyam quickly went back to present the money to the girl. He did not return for quite some time.

Oh, he did return eventually and told us triumphantly that the girl had been nice enough to give him a dollar off on the bill for his honesty!

Thus nearly ended a night when we had a taste of good ice cream and crown mentality. We saw that Gelato is good and greed is bad. Finally, we saw that it’s not the amount of money which matters, it’s the amount of work which goes into making that money which counts and this reminds me, I better talk to our bakra and give back the money! 🙂

The Great American Cheeseburger.

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So here I was, standing with some friends at a McDonald’s in Boulder, Colorado and we’re excited at knowing that there’s a whole menu for just about a dollar for us poor Indian students 🙂
We stalk the lady at the counter asking her about the various options we had and we settled on the Cheeseburger as it seemed the most vegetarian and superbly cheap! We then asked her about the ingredients of the cheeseburger to confirm our suspicion that we had found a veg burger in the heart of one of America’s greatest junk food joints! She told us that the Cheeseburger has cucumber, pickles, onion and cheese.
Cheese.
Cheese.
Our ears were ringing and our blood pressure shot through the roof thinking about cheese. We quickly ordered three cheeseburgers and a large coke(another dollar~fixed price for any size) and received our order, filled up our coke, picked up some ketchup and sat down.

The first thing I noticed when we sat down was that the cover of the burger said something odd. It said “100% Pure Beef”.

As I looked at the packed burger and then at the happy faces of my friends, I felt a bit of guilt but I pushed it away and waited with bated breath. They opened the packages and dug their first bites into the burger. They looked at me and I looked at them. I was perplexed at their reaction, either they were supposed to react crazily to the taste of beef or smile at me and tell me that it’s really tasty. But they looked perplexed and were probably wondering why I was not biting into my cheeseburger! I slowly asked them how the burger felt. They responded in the affirmative. I noticed that there was a tikki(cutlet) in the burger. From past experiences in South Africa, I knew that in meat-eating countries, a tikki in a burger is bad news for vegetarians.

So, I got up and went to the lady at the counter and asked her a simple question- Does this burger have beef in it?

She slowly, sweetly, responded- Yes.

Ugh.

I was holding cow’s meat in my hands. I went back to my friends who had dropped their delicious burgers due to my suspicions and told them that there was beef in the burger.

They looked at me wide-eyed. Religion was in question here! They had just bitten into beef! A few remarkable reactions later, we were still confused about what to do. Then, a kind lady sitting next to us asked us what our problem was and told us to be firm and ask for the Manager and ask for a replacement.

We went to the counter, asked for the Manager, explained what our religion states and got the burgers replaced.

My appetite was dead by now and I just ordered a coke(another dollar down the drain) and finished it in peace.

For this strange reason, it wasn’t a typical ending to a day. After all, we had just experienced what the Real American Cheeseburger is all about!

Mind’s Games

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Few tufts of wind blow across the sky
pregnant with suggestion,
a stone on ground breaks it’s path
with every misdirection.
At once, the winds clear out
and all arguments fall flat in the face
In the second instant
without a hopeful trace,
into the murky vials of the unforseen,
the heart plunges again
there are no bounds then
to the stone’s cry of pain.
It’s not the stone
which chooses it’s fate
it’s an unseen ether
whose vileness does not abate.
The stone cringes
in search of peace
it knows not till now
a moment’s release.
There is no sadness
as the unknown,
for in it’s madness
it chills to the bone.
The stone is compliant
to the fancies of the wind
and to the dry earth
it remains pinned.
Nor move nor breathe
neither does it sigh in relief
the stone is fooled
into the farce belief
that there is a force
outside of it’s own
that causes the weeping
and the deep deep moan.
Will there be sunshine
in the land of the sun?
will we be soaring
or just trying to run?
What good does
self-obsession do?
When the stone can be
happy when left to!
The stone can see
the open skies
but it must have real,
not a potato’s eyes.
Let your heart fly
it has the strength
let doubt be diminished
to it’s power’s tenth!
There’s a ray of hope
in each moment
and it’s up to you
to grab it pin point!

Always remember, like Owen Wilson said in “The Darjeeling Limited

Francis: Dad’s bags aren’t gonna make it.

Sometimes, we just need to let go of things and jump onwards to the next journey. The only thing preventing us from rediscovering ourselves is ourselves.

Advice

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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!

Happy Independence Day with a twist

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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.

Bedless in Boulder…

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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…

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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!

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