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”.

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