I’m on foreign soil. Land of opportunities, wide roads, friendly profs and low-voiced people….. so this really isn’t a whine.
I’m yet to get myself a laptop, or an Internet connection, or even a cellphone… so it’s going to be atleast a week before I get back to using the Net like I used to while I was working. Right now, I’m using a system that has ONLY Internet Explorer 5.0, and hence this post mightn’t come out looking good.
At Bengaluru Intl. Airport, they said my hand baggage looks ‘suspicious’ and dug through it, dismantling my mother’s perfect packing. And the officer was nice enough to atleast try putting it back in my bag the same way it was.
The airhostesses on Cathay looked literally like DOLLS. You could easily mistake one to be a mannequin… all the porcelain-perfect skin and plastic smiles.
Six hour stopover at HongKong. Window shopping. And then decided to have Vegetable Ramen SomethingOrTheOther instead of something at Burger King. I must say it is incredibly easy to make. Take rice noodles, carrots chopped long and thin, corn and s of two different types and boil them all in water. The End. It reminded me of the time when a classmate offered me something called Rubber Dosa, which is made purely from rice and water, with absolutely no spice or seasoning and I gagged and retched at every mouthful. This one wasn’t so bad, mainly owing to the sweetcorn, but it was quite a feat to finish the huge bowl of Vegetable Ramen SomethingOrTheOther.
It turns out my working with South Koreans over the past year has given me a rather intuitive feel to talking to people with limited knowledge of Engrish [not a typo… I had a colleague who liked eating flutes and an MD who thanked us for the pressure of adlessing us. Serious.]. So at HK, when others were saying “Vegetarian! Only vegetables!” and the staff at the eat-outs said “Sowie?”, I asked for “No meat, no seafood”, and got fast service. And… it turns out I get a rather irritating (to other Indians) faux-Korean accent when I have too many South-East Asians around me. I’d better get rid of it ASAP, else I’ll get killed in Irvine, where even the Mayor is a Korean.
Twelve-hour flight to LA. Slept through it a good deal. Watched All About Eve and listened to tracks of Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone for the rest of the time.
I understand now why most of the rest of the world prefers meat over vegetables…. they don’t know any other way to cook vegetables other than by burning them. The maincourses, while not inedible, were far from satisfying. And the desserts could have saved my day if it wasn’t that they were made out of bean curd. I lived on juice for those twelve hours.
And then LA. Some other student also wanted to join us on the shuttle to Irvine, and none of us could figure out how to use the phones. When we finally did, the call didn’t get through and we ended up losing a dollar.
Funnily, none of my pickles were confiscated, and they didn’t ask me anything, and Customs and Immigration was over before I knew it. I was expecting something really crazy, from what I heard from a lot of others.
The folks who run the shuttles said with bravado that they could accomodate all six of us with three huge bags and two smaller bags each, but that was only until they saw our luggage. We were strongly advised to get two vans, until a Chinese-origin guy somehow convinced the driver to stuff all the luggage in.
My house is airy, bright and spacious. It gets rather hot in the middle of the day, but quite cold in the nights, not unmanageably so, though…. we are between the desert and the deep blue sea.
The university is HUGE. IITB, the largest campus I’d seen so far, seems to be dwarfed by this campus. I have to walk a good twenty minutes to get to my department from the University Center (yes, my spellings are turning more American). It however takes me only four minutes to get to the University Center from where I live by bus, a distance of two miles.
This morning on the bus, there was this huge Caucasian who seemed to be talking to the lady bus driver and thanking her and wishing her a good day, but it turned out, he was talking to my three roommates and me. He gave us the usual “Welcome to California, Everything’s king size” lecture, before telling us to use Vocabulary Builders, improve our language, before telling us the names of a few books that are “great for people who have English as a second language”. Two of us weren’t listening, one got really offended and thought he was being racist, while I just grinned and thanked him… and tried stopping myself from using six- and eight-syllabled words to see if he could follow 😛
And…. it turns out I’m fine with people in clothes that don’t cover their bodies at all, or people kissing or…. men kissing other men in public, but if you touch the serving spoon with the same hand you’re using to eat, I get outraged.
It turns out I don’t have a camera charger that’ll fit in the plug points here. And it’s of a different sort, so I can’t get an Indian-to-American converter or something. So… no pics uploaded or clicked till I get something.
More later. I’m sure I’ll have lots to post about.