Monday, November 4, 2013

Inside the University

I had always wondered what it would be like studying in a foreign country, interacting with students from all over the world, learning from teachers who have a different accent and teaching style and being in a place with new smell and lifestyle. I found Stony Brook, very very green, quiet and serene. People lived in beautiful Pent houses, maintained their Gardens too well, drove plush black cars and followed traffic signals at 7 in the morning and 10 in the night. People did not judge each other based on their looks, where they belonged to or their backgrounds.

Stony Brook

The train station was a small, yet neat and organized one. I had fun inserting coins, currency notes (or bills as Americans call them) in the ticket-vending machines and buying the tickets for the to-and-fro rides from NYC to Stony Brook. He told me how the machines did not accept folded or soggy bills. The bills were okay to understand but it took me days to figure out the coins. I used to simply handover coins to the shopkeepers during the early days (in an attempt to not appear like a fool wasting their time) and they either returned some saying ‘You have handed over more’ or quoted the billed amount again, which meant I need to shell out some more coins. I quickly realized that the Dollars are the biggest by the circumference, then follow the Quarters (\$0.25), Nickels next (\$0.05), strangely Dimes (\$0.10) are smaller than the Nickels and lastly come the Pennies (1 Cent or \$0.01).

He used to take me along to his weekend Shopping place (while he is walking and I’m trying to catch up with his speed running from behind and clicking pictures).

In the parking lot outside Waldbaum's

It was a good 10-15 minutes walk from his house to Waldbaum’s. He often cribbed about the insects that we met along the way and which irritated him even with his spectacles on. It is anyways too difficult walking alongside him (he walks too fast) and with the insects flying in his eyes, he made me walk even faster. Somehow I was never troubled by the flying insects but he was always Winking smile. We passed by a house which had a dog and the dog “always” barked at me. I never saw it outside but there was not a single time when it did not bark when we crossed that part of the street and I know it barked at me because he said it never barked when he walked around there alone.

He says People (people here just means ‘me’) should follow Etiquettes of walking. Man – I have heard of such Etiquettes for dining, living, fashion, etc. but ‘Walking’… only he can come up with such things. That’s what I thought till I read something like this. He told me that I never adjusted the space when we walked, never cared about where the zigzags (the curves on the road) started, have still not learnt how to give space to the co-walker and things like where the leaves are, where the sand is wet, where the grass is overgrown, where there’s a puddle and many more such random stuff. He generally talks about ‘talks and lectures’ when he walks and I treat it like a story said to a child and get amused every time it is said.

The brown one

For the reflection

I clicked pictures of Seagulls (the ones shown above) in the parking lot around Waldbaum’s and other birds (around the university) whenever I got the opportunity.

More birds

Flamingos

Unfortunately, I never saw the Deer(s) which he had seen a few times.

Deers

Another View

He is a man who prefers entering each and every aisle inside the shopping malls. I tried all kinds of Dairy products while being there. Chocolates and Chewing gums also tasted different from what we get in India. He made me try different kinds of bakery stuff: Bagelfuls, Croissants, Pies, Pastas, Pizzas, (fruit) Turnovers, etc. They were indeed ‘happy hoursSmile. I enjoyed eating trail mixes, cut-fruits with him while we listened to good Sher-0-Shayari.

We took the University buses whenever and wherever we could. I saw a lot of women drivers, all driving very effortlessly and at the same time cautiously. I really wanted to take a few videos inside the bus where the women drove and how the passengers greeted them, only to show it to the people here whose eyes pop-out when they see women drivers around. Though things are slowly changing in Bangalore and the ratio of women drivers on the road is steadily growing, it is still nowhere close to where we should be. I once heard a friend saying ‘There are two kinds of learning licenses. One is the normal learning and another is the Ladies learning’. And he laughed very loudly after that.

We went for small walks inside the university and he showed me the different departments and the place where he works. I sat in his office a couple of times, played with the chalk pieces, checked out the random collection of books, played ‘Temple run’ or ‘Angry Birds’ on my phone and bugged him with questions while he typed Problem sets and Solutions for the students.

He always accompanied me to and from the train station, figured out the suitable bus times much in advance and was punctual, which was not a good thing because the trains were most of the time not! But as they say, all Good things come to an end, and before I could have opened my eyes for another sunrise, more than a month had passed and I was back in India waiting for the cabs, discussing traffic of the road, listening to another story of corruption on the television, another strike, shortage of water and electricity, and the list goes on…

Happy Diwali