Sunday, November 17, 2013

People I met

I know the title reminds you of ‘How I met your mother’ but you do not have to wait for 8 seasons to know that one right human. People are the most indispensable part of our lives and this post is very specially dedicated to all of them who have been a part of my life in the last few months. That includes the ones who scared me telling that the Visa rejection rates are too high these days before I was going for the interview. One of my juniors took me through a mock Visa interview some two times on the phone, every time stating that my ‘Married+Well Read’ profile is too bad for selection. It seems this is the group which never returns back to the country and have the highest rejections. My actual interview lasted for hardly 30s and I was only asked the following two questions: What do you do? What does your husband do? People don’t stop scaring you if they realize you can be easily scared. Some gave me examples of how in their previous organizations, colleagues were sent back from the transit country while they were going to the States. I was given advices on how to handle the passport and important documents, whether or not to take 2 laptops, how to manage luggage in a new country, how and where to buy things, etc. But I liked the fact that they were, in some form or the other concerned about my well-being.

The first thing that I would remember about this country is its long and wide footpaths, they were bigger than the roads in my country. I saw people walking in formal suits on them, sipping cold coffee early in the morning and all set out to chase their dreams. There were children and adults, irrespective of their age, riding skate-boards or the smart-scooter and bikers had a separate lane for themselves. People drove their black coloured cars (mostly Sedans),  the yellow taxis charged a bomb for even the shortest of rides and the Icecream trucks which ran inside the city brought cheers on faces like mine. There were long buses too and the front part was separated from the back one by some kind of a spring in the middle.

A busy day

It was one of those days when I was walking to the office and somebody stopped me to give a yellow flower. When I was growing up, Ma taught me never to accept anything from strangers no matter how much good or modest they looked and even if they pleaded. I have followed it all my life but this man was offering me a rose flower with such a gesture that I was not able to say a ‘no’. He then wished me a happy day. I took it to the place I stayed in NYC and there was this Canadian budding actor who told me how to crop the stem so that the veins were not cut and the water supply was proper when placed inside the glass. The flower stayed healthy and fresh for about a week.

Yellow Rose Day

It was my first day and I was looking for some Grocery stores nearby. My Superpartner had come along with me for the first time and he told me a bit about the the city and general public discipline that needs to be followed. In the place that I was staying, I met this Doctor from Thailand who told me that she would like to take me to the closest store. While returning, when I started to thank her, she told me that she has been shown this place by another person and that it would be interesting if I kept the chain going. I said that I would try but I have not been able to help anyone till date with  a Grocery store. The ball is in my court now or whatever the common phrase is.

The HSBC office closer to Times Square was really very beautiful. There were people who would stand for seconds keeping the door opened as a ‘Gentlemen’ gesture, they would tell me which are those places I should visit, who were some of the common people we knew inside the bank, etc. There were some dozens of varieties of coffee in the break-out area and I took days just to memorize their names. If you wish to know my learning with the coffee-vending machine, read my non-marketed blog’s post. I met a person who was basically from Taiwan but had stayed in the States for most of her life. She was married to a person who was from China and was also staying in the country for a long time. One day, we were discussing some sensitive topics like Politics, Races and Religion in our respective countries. She told me that she had stayed in China Town (an area in NYC) while she was young and she couldn’t understand what words like these even meant then. But when she came out of China Town, it took her no time to realize what they mean. She was once travelling along with her husband in their car and while they were waiting at a signal, some children who were in the back seat of another car, looked at her, stretched their eyelids and laughed looking at her. She felt so embarrassed as well as awful that day. And I realized no matter how developed or not developed a country is, such things prevail everywhere, in some form or the other. She also told me that their weddings have a strict ‘Only cash as gifts’ custom and unlike India, where Cash is considered to be a gift when you don’t know the person too well or when you can’t take out time for buying the right gift. That leads to the married couple having too many similar items and not the ones they need.

We, in India are vaccinated for Smallpox just after birth and the vaccination leaves a scar on one of our arms. I was wearing some shirt one day which showed up this mark and the Executive from office told me that she observed this mark on my arm and added that she had one too. She then laughed and told me that she wanted to tell this to me right in the morning but was thinking of its appropriateness. She then added saying that perhaps people from the developing countries (She was from one of the Caribbean nations) are given shots of this kind. I just ended it up saying ‘Yes, it has been eradicated and I don’t think this generation gets those shots’. I figured out that two things that people remember about India were its cuisines (the spices!) and weddings (big, fat, grand and Ostentatious ones). They knew Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. All of them wanted (or had already) to visit India once to be a part of a wedding or to get a glimpse of the rich culture.

I met fashion models, budding actors, artists, dancers, fashion designers, business students and of course tourists, people who were trying to establish themselves in the world, some to study, some to work, people who knew at least 2 international languages (I was an exception and appeared timid before them), all wanting to make it big. I learnt that after English, two most preferred languages were Spanish and French.

Men and women, with freedom for everything constituted this city. The city was enlightening, warm and inviting, active, brisk and happening. Not feeling like bidding it a farewell, instead just want to say, ‘I will miss you’.

Statue of Liberty