Category Archives: Travel

November has come!

gmu-entrance

Yes I cook!

Gulaab Jamun on Diwali!

Gulaab Jamun on Diwali!

here are other photos from my life in USA 🙂

Winter Up Ahead :)

At George Mason Univeristy

At George Mason University

Ravings and Ranting about the Land of Opportunities

So its been 2 months since I landed in America. Time flies!

I have had some great times, even though lifestyle hasn’t changed much from the college life we led in India. There are various aspects of living in America that took time to get used to. I worked at the bookstore for a month, and it was hard to maintain punctuality. Keeping time was not something we made a significant effort to do in India. 8:00 AM is not the same as 8:05 AM here. I learned that the hard way!

The biggest shocker was, however, the telephone services here. We are so used to “incoming free” and “free local SMS” in India, that when AT&T charged me heavily for incoming calls I felt outraged! As if it wasn’t enough that they do not let anyone buy a postpaid connection without credit history and SSN, they had to fleece me on prepaid!

The cost of books is also astonishing here! Its usually at least 10 times its cost in my country! It is as if the American leaders are trying to discourage their kids to use books! What ever happened to paperbag, all books here have to look like a beautiful hardbound Worldbook encyclopaedia! No student ever asked for that!

Food was said to be cheap here. Unfortunately of all places, I chose to be at Fairfax, which ranks among the most expensive county in America. Apart from a heafty rent, I felt the pinch spending on food. I haven’t even had many cuisines here, like I used to have in India. No Chinese, Mongolian or Italian (save the pizzas) for 2 whole months now! Thanks to Patel Bros however, we have access to a lot of Indian food and groceries. I found my beloved Maggi hot and sweet tomato chili sauce! – the secret ingredient in all my cooking.

I managed to squeeze in some DotA nights here too! Thanks to a few friends I made here, who are Warcraft 3 crazy, I never had to renounce my religion from my MNIT days!

I have a teaching assistantship now, at Computer Resources Department (so no more customer service at the bookstore)! I am assistant to a Unix Administrator, not a professor. That basically means I have to do the same linux support job and server management that I volunteered for at my undergraduate university in India, and whats more, I get great pay for it!

Weather is getting cold here. We have started to consisteantly hit the 50 degree fahrenheit at nights. I am looking forward to my first winter in USA. I have seen cold winters at Jaipur in India, so I am not nervous, though I have never been to subzero cetigrade places.

Fridays are a practical holiday here. No classes or appointments on Fridays. Infact the office hours are shorter on Fridays than even Saturdays in many places at the University. So I consistantly get a 3 day weekend. That helps me keepup with my various non-academic interests like computer gaming, surfing the internet, catching up on friends blogs, watching movies and taking part in flamewars on mailing lists. Not that doing 2 subjects a semester is any kind of a load worth mentioning, it is however taxing to sit in 3 hour long lectures with just one 10 minute break in between.

I constantly get to travel to Washinton DC. Went there last Thursday too, to attend the Linux Day 2008 organized by Novell and HP. Their target audience was the industry, but I learned about many new technologies, and got a wind of whats coming up in the Linux domain in near future!

Seems like a decently long update, so I will stop raving now. I am yet to cover many more interesting events. Hope I get other nights like tonight soon.

My Lufthansa trip!

I am in Fairfax, Virginia, and am having fun! I got here on the 3rd of August by Lufthansa. The flight journey from India was physically very taxing. I have never been on flight for 19 hours and this was a new experience. I enjoyed a lot on the Lufthansa flight. I had mixed reviews from friends about Lufthansa, some said the seats are crammed and the service is poor while a few others told me Lufthansa’s service is even better than British Airways! So it was for me to see. It turns out, I got lucky again. I had a good journey! The seats were awesome, and the service was good. Food was nice. I saw Speed Racer (again), and Kung-fu Panda on the LCD Monitor.

I landed on Frankfurt airport, and it was just what I expected it to be. Massive! Took a train to reach the departure gate of my connecting flight. I was disappointed however, because I was unable to call home. The phone kiosks had all their instructions in German! Most airport authorities only understood German! I actually felt confused, because in India, English is such a common language, and telephone booths operated by a human is such a common sight! So much for a developed economy! I made a few American friends on the airport though. They were waiting for the same flight, and were kind enough to help me contact home.

If I had known that the connecting flight, which was operated by United Airlines, was going to be bumpy, and without a good screen, I would have not slept at all on the first leg of my journey. I had new friends to talk to though, Indian and American, so I had a good time.

Even at Washington DC airport, making an international call was difficult. A word of advice for all those traveling to America for the first time, and without a phone… Please carry International calling cards, all the phone kiosks need one and there are no humans around to help. Its just you and the machine!  😀

The DC Airport is cute. It had a full black theme, the building’s walls were a new concept of black (I think asbestos, it was not cement for sure). I waited outside for an hour for my pickup to arrive, looking at the vast landscape with cars (even some awesome ones… Rolls Royce, Daimler, Hummer and Porche! ) dotting the circular highway road.

My first meal on American soil was at McDonalds! I enjoyed the food. It is better than the McDonalds burgers in India.

I am all set for this new phase. A lot happened since, I got an apartment, got a part-time job, registered for courses, met many new people, and visited many new places.

Its 5:14 PM here on August 20. Time for my department orientation. More (long overdue) updates coming up shortly.

My A/c First Class trip on JC!

And so it ends… With a blissful journey on the train, from Jaipur to Chennai, I return once an for all with a B-Tech degree in hand!

Show pictures or a video, I would like to… but an appropriate camera I have not… Fancy this cabin is! A waiter turns up at my service, a bell once I ring !! (yes, I’ve been watching – and reading – Star Wars, more on it later, but I think I should end the Yoda speak, even though this is fun).

OH, there’s more BTW. I have an indicator on top my seats that shows whether the toilets are occupied or empty! The seats are 4 feet wide!!!! …and whats more, I got it all to myself! The 3 others in this box did not turn up! I have been online all day, and also saw Star Wars:Revenge of the Sith…again. I am planning to finish the Anime Series Basilisk now.

The train is running 4 hours late, so I get to be in here until 2 PM tomorrow! That’s awesome [:-)]

…and I connected my awesome Altec Lansing Sub-Woofer speaker system here too! Haven’t played anything loud though, they already cut the power once; when Adi and Riyu were here watching Star Wars. So they had to leave… I’ll keep it low from here on.. [:-)]

P.S.: Big thanks to Lalu and to Dheerubhai Ambani for making all this possible!