Saturday, July 10, 2010

BBQ Saturday


A call from Tapu mama, my mom’s cousin brother in NYC, woke me up at 10:00 AM. Yes, it was exactly 10:00 AM. He is an amazing person. Since, he picked me up from the Newark airport on 26th December of 2006 – he has been in touch with me. I only picked up the call because it was him. He called me to inform that someone in our family died, since I couldn’t recall seeing that person even being heard of, that news didn’t really surprise me. But I felt a little sad for my mom, maybe she knew that person.

The church life in the New Jersey area is very good. It has been more than a month I am meeting with them. Today we have a bbq somewhere near Franklin Park or Princeton area. Sister Pai-ti, an elder in our Church, always sends me email or calls me to keep me informed about the Church activities. Sister told me to call his son, Ben, to pick me up. Brother Ben who just graduated from Rutgers University with a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) has been giving me ride since I came here. Although I have my car, I prefer to go with someone. Let me tell you why – every Friday/Saturday we go to a saint’s house for a meeting and before meeting we have dinner. Now if I go there by myself and the saint cannot recognize me – that would be a total embarrassment – isn’t it?

I called brother Ben last night, Friday, and he said me another brother would give me a ride – brother Jeremy. I told him to give me brother Jeremy’s number and I would call him. Right after Ben gave me his number – I realized it is going to be silly to call and ask for a ride but it would be even sillier of me to go to the bbq and not knowing anyone. I prayed and called brother Jeremy in the morning today. To my surprise – brother Jeremy heard of me before and he was very glad that I called. We talked for about 20 minutes and during our conversation I get to know that he did his masters and PhD from University of Texas- Austin in Electrical Engineering and currently working for Google. I was glad to know that he was in Full time training in Taipei for a year – somewhere in my heart there is a desire to go for the fulltime training for a year as well.

I am going to this bbq in a few hours – I am having a feeling a lot of stories are waiting for me there…

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delhi - Gurgaon - Fargo: 2005 to 2010

It was the summer of 2005, Maa and I reached New Delhi railway station. We didn’t know anyone in the city. We found a hotel right outside the railway station. I can clearly remember the hotel room –an air-conditioned room with a TV with a million channels in it. I remember getting bored after surfing the channels for a few minutes. I was very excited about that new city.

We came to Delhi for my admission to Ansal Institute of Technology, Gurgaon. Gurgaon was 40 minutes from the hotel we stayed. I couldn’t believe Gurgaon was part of the same country I lived for that long. It looked like a city of a Hollywood film. There were so many sky scrapers with wonderful architecture. At the same time the temperature was extremely high. Although I was excited about my coming out from the Bengal at the same time I was worried how would I manage my time in this Hindi speaking city of scorching heat.

Admission to AIT was a cakewalk – I got admitted after showing my AIEEE score. Maa and I visited Tajmahal and a few Hindu temples after that. Tajmahal was beautiful – although I was trying my best to be surprised, but I didn’t find anything particular for that reason. I liked Red Fort of Delhi more- those people used to live there to rule our country – a few hundred years ago no one was allowed to enter in – now we have democracy – no more kings!

Maa and Dad came with me again to leave me at AIT to begin the most challenging year of life. From the very beginning I knew that I would be at AIT for little more than a year. I joined there in the fall of 2005 and left for USA in 2006 December. But during those sixteen months I learned and grew a lot. Showing off – was a culture in AIT. “I hate AIT” was a common phrase – although we didn’t mean that most of the time. If we didn’t get the grade we wanted –“It was all because we were not on the teacher’s good book”. There was a coffee shop, Nescafe, at the center of the college – going there in between classes was a ritual.

Initially I was assigned a room with a few students – since our room had a big glass door facing the angry sun with no curtain – the room was always at near boiled temperature. After few days I moved to a single room – which was actually a kitchen. My room or the kitchen became very popular among all the five three-storied apartments as I had internet on my computer. The kitchen was very small – eight feet by twelve feet. At most 6 people can be there at a time. But there were times when we were 12 to 14 friends watching movies in my 17 inch LCD monitor. Yes, I carried that heavy thing all the way from Kolkata. One funny incident was – watching the movie Grudge and screaming at every possible creepy scene whole night. Eventually my wooden-bed broke as it couldn’t handle the weight of six grown up kids jumping on it. I slept on that broken bed for rest of the semester – as I knew the same thing would happen again should I have replaced it – I didn’t want to pay 500 rupees twice. The semester was very eventful – eating food at nearby Indian restaurant – going to Delhi in every possible occasion – studying in groups whole night before exams and going to grab tea in the morning – and making some good friends who are even closer today. Salil, Deepro, Ashish and a few people became my trust-circle.

We moved to the new residence hall in Sector 55 in the spring 2006 semester. Every room in our new residence hall was very modern – it had air-conditioner in every room with an attached toilet with water heater in it. It was quite a luxury to move from the kitchen-room and six students sharing toilet where sometime we used to find our adopted street dog, Brownie, sleeping. My room number was 404. I could see the students entering to this six storied building from my balcony. I got a roommate in this new building – R. Madhusudan. He never told me what that “R” stands for. I used to call him Maddy-sir or Maddy-bhai alternatively. He was a tamilian MBA students. Last time I heard from him he was in Alabama. Daniel Hazer, an exchange student from North Dakota State university, came to AIT that semester. Salil, Daniel, Ashish and Sarthak used to go out to eat a lot – I became a regular companion of them.

Summer of 2006 was extremely busy as well – I had to prepare all my documents for NDSU and had to take the TOEFL exam. It was particularly eventful as I got sick with chickenpox during that time. It was a difficult time – but I had to stay in Gurgaon as I couldn’t delay my exams as it would have postponed my admission to NDSU. I was really grateful that all my friends helped me out from that situation.

Micah and Jack from NDSU joined AIT as exchange students in the fall of 2006 who eventually become my good friends at NDSU. Everything worked out perfectly – I got admission at NDSU and student visa for 5 years to begin my life in United States! Salil came with me for my visa interview – we went to see Casino Royale shortly after the visa interviewer told me, “Get ready for USA”.

Monday, July 5, 2010


It was 5:30 PM, I was talking to Mahesh, a co-worker(?), about job interviews. We were seating on the stairs outside the apartment where I have been staying since May 22nd. All of a sudden I found there were a lot of rashes on my both hands and legs. Is it chickenpox? No, God! Lord Jesus, don’t do that to me. The first few things came to my mind. I was in total panic. Where will I stay? Whom can I call? It is 4:00 AM in Kolkata, so can’t call Maa. I can’t go to my uncle’s house in NYC as there were a lot of kids. I don’t want to put them in risk. Who else? Should I call a brother who lives nearby?

I called Salil, a friend always come to rescue me. Salil told me not to panic and go to a hospital and talked to Manish, a friend who was staying with me. He also reminded me that I had paid a lot of money for my insurance (which I totally forgot!) - therefore I should feel free to utilize the hospital facility. Good deal. Immediately I decided to go to a hospital.

I found JFK Hospital – 12 minutes from my place. I called them and asked – How long are you open today? The lady replied “It’s a hospital sir, we are open 24 hours”. I said, “Thank you” and ran to get my car key to go there. I was praying the whole time while going there. I have a few job interviews coming up – I can’t miss them anyhow. Is it a bad dream? I better wake up.

I went to the emergency section of the hospital. I found a young person seating at the desk working. I asked him “Can I see a doctor?”. He looked at me and asked “For whom?”. What kind of question is this – I was thinking. I said “For me”, he gave a strange look and told me to talk to a lady next to him.

I had to wait for an hour to see the doctor in the emergency room. She said after a few minutes of check up “It’s nothing”.

NYC to Edison - NJTransit


1:38 PM. I am at the Penn Station waiting for the train to Edison, NJ. I have to wait 7 more minutes to know which track the train will come to take me to Edison.

The whole place seems very calm although a lot of people around. Two siblings ages around 7 and 10 and running in front me. Most likely their grandparents are seating next time. There were two seats open on my both sides, right now I am seating between them. The sister is chasing the brother – it reminds me something I can’t remember. May be I was like them when I was of their age.

Manish just called – he wanted to know when I would reach Edison – I said I would be there in an hour.

Finally I boarded to the train. It was 1:50 when I got a seat. I found a window seat on the upper level of the train. An Indian girl was seating next to that seat. Her name was Harini. She was an Indian American researcher in University of Pennsylvania. She did her PhD from Rutgers. Brother Chee, my spiritual guru, is a PhD, the girl seating next to me is a PhD. There are so many PhDs around me – isn’t it amazing?

Coming to the Penn Station from East Elmhurst where my mom’s cousin lives was quite a task. I wanted to take a bus to come to subway station. The bus stop was 3-4 minutes’ walk from there. When I was on the road I met one old person – I asked him exactly from where the bus will leave. He said me something I didn’t understand. He told me to follow him. I had three super heavy books with me along with two bags. My whole shoulder was breaking apart as I just walked those three minutes. I followed him. I asked him on the way where he was going. He told me he was taking me to the subway station. I didn’t understand what he meant. He said the subway is only 5 blocks from there and we should walk. I said I would have loved to walk, but I have a lot of things with me. Then he said he would carry my books. Since he was an elderly person, I couldn’t do that. I prayed and said “okay lets go”.

On the way he told me he was from Russia and his English was not very good. He told he would be 79 in the coming August. After walking a block he showed me where he lives. I said thank for all the help, now I can walk the rest of distance by myself. He said don’t worry – I would come with you. He took me to the rail station, there was a time when I was about to walk in a busy street – he stopped me and helped me to cross the road – I was surprised to see his care. Finally we reached the 74th street subway. Then he told me to take the elevator, he was waiting until the elevator left the floor. I will probably never see him again - life is beautiful if we give it a chance to shine.

Then I changed another subway and reached Queens Boulevard and from Queens Boulevard I reached the 34th street. I asked a person at 34th street where is Penn station, he told me just go to the red light and look at your left, you would see the Penn Station. I told the person, thank you, I like your name. Amen. He gave me a big smile. His name was Jesus.

Mautaz was waiting for me outside with Sandeep. I came near to his car and he asked "Get into the car bitch." I smiled. I said to Mautaz "You watch South Park, too much". When we reached the apartment, I found Manish was standing outside with his usual broad smile. As soon as I entered the house, Manish gave me my car key. I haven't driven my car for last seven days - I screamed "I am going to wall-mart, if anyone interested - get ready in five minutes."

I just realized - I love Edison. Every street of it.