Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Home away from Home - Part 1

Those of you who have read the last few comments from the previous post will understand why I just HAVE to talk about “Dorm life” in this post. I said it once before and I will say it again… “Me and my big mouth”. Anyway here goes…

When one thinks of a “Dormitory” one thinks of rows of beds stacked horizontally or vertically. Since I am living in a single room (one of 179 other single rooms in the same building) with just one bed, I guess the term “Residence Hall” might be more appropriate. But then, the word hall itself would seem strange for those unexposed to American universities. After all in Indian terms, isn’t a hall a large indoor space or a living room where you entertain guests? Take it from me that almost every building on a university campus in America is called a hall. If you live in it, its called a residence hall, if you eat in it, its called a dining hall and if you attend classes in it, its called… err.. umm.. just a hall. But I digress. Let me get to the point…

Around 5 pm on the 22nd of August last year, my first day in the USA, I stood outside Babcock Hall (yup, you guessed right, that’s the name of my residence hall… Do I hear any snickers? I’m a gentle guy by nature, but any puns about the name of my beloved hall and you will see my violent side) looking up at the large imposing five floor brick building. As I walked inside I did not know what to expect. Could I live the same way I had lived before? Could I get along with the diverse population of the building. Would I feel left out or lonely? The last question answered itself almost immediately as I was met near the door by three Indians (girls I may add.. ahem.. ahem). Clearly I was not going to miss Indian girls and that was enough to make my apprehension vanish. Once indoors I was checked in to my room by a blonde girl who smiled at me more than anyone had ever smiled at me in my life. Unsure about what to do, I matched her smile for smile. Just when my mouth was beginning to pain, she handed me the key to 128 and I heaved a sigh of relief. I was now an official Babcock resident.

My first thought on seeing my room… “Kinda small”. But that was probably for the best because I am not capable of maintaining a large and spacious room. Not that I’ve maintained this small room very well. (I can find a way to mess up even a 6ft by 2 ft box if I ever get locked up in one (Don’t get ideas, guys)). It just means that I have much lesser space to pollute which is in the best interest of the universe. The only time my room was very clean was when my initial euphoria at landing in the United States propelled me to neatly unpack my two gargantuan suitcases. That first day my room looked great. I remember beaming at my beautiful room and whistling contentedly. Settling down into a routine however took some time with the kitchens and bathrooms causing me the most trouble.

Whatever little I knew of cooking I had learnt from my Mom hurriedly before I left. I took careful notes and landed here armed with a book filled with recipes for several of my favorite dishes. I would cook with the book in one hand meticulously following one step after another. Imagine a high school chemistry student performing a titration in a lab and you have the exact picture of me cooking. However, I never ever obtained the expected result even if I counted out the fragments of salt. In fact, the net result would be barely eatable leave alone tasty. By the end of a month I had taken a strong dislike to my ‘favorite’ dishes. Now, having used the exactly same ingredients used by my mom, having followed all her instructions to the letter and also having been a good chemistry student (My teacher will testify to this) I concluded that the bad results were no fault of mine. This meant of course that the kitchen was to blame according to the Sherlock Holmes principle which states that “Once all possibilities are exhausted, the last one remaining is true however improbable it sounds.” Having concluded thus, I decided to leave the kitchen alone. If I am alive today to write this post, it is because of two good Samaritans (Anu and Bhagi) who for some reason thought it worth their while to feed me and keep me alive. So if you enjoy reading this even a little bit, please don’t forget to thank them.

The bathroom problem seemed tougher to tackle at first because I obviously cannot give up taking a shower like I gave up cooking. Basically the problem was this. The damned Americans used curtains instead of doors. Didn’t they learn in school that curtains can be “drawn apart”? What I wouldn’t have given for a solid wooden door at that time… (sigh). For the first month I clutched the curtain with one hand while bathing. For the next month I just stood very close to the curtain ready for you know what. After two months passed by without the occurrence of any controversial incident, I finally realized that no one was really interested in peeking at me. It hurt my pride a bit but at least I could now shower in peace.

Having resolved the mundane issues, let us turn to more appealing stuff. The most amazing thing about Babcock is that you can have all the privacy you want and at the same time be among people. Bored in your room? Go to the lounge where a bunch of other people from various parts of the world are sitting around chatting or playing a game. (Babcock is the only international residence hall at UNH btw). Once you are fed up with the yapping around you, you can go back to your room, lock yourself in and put a do not disturb sign outside your door. This sign will keep out people from all nationalities except Indian. Note that Indians will make it a point to knock and ask you why you put up the sign. This problem is easily solved by making sure you write the reason for not wanting to be disturbed on your notice board. Mind you, reasons like “sleeping”, “reading” are simply not good enough. A good reason I’ve found is to say “I’m talking to my parents”. This reason will get you a lot of respect from all Indians alike and they will leave you alone for hours together, praising your goodness. Be careful not to substitute “girlfriend/boyfriend” for “parents” though it seems to logically follow. Extreme jealousy will make them hammer your door down before you even open it.

To be continued……

PS: I was not intending to make this a two part post but it is now 1:30 am and tomorrow is going to be a long day at work. I better hit the sack. Damn you Vidya for that deadline.... :p. Yangbai Gangtok, you should be satisfied now. I’m in the process of keeping my part of the deal. Hopefully someday you will reveal yourself to me so that we can laugh about it.

Over and out... :-)

40 comments:

Ms. V said...

If only I'd known the power of my words before, I'd have unleashed them long ago!!! Well, now I know ;) Looking forward to Part 2 in another 24????

Leon said...

Hey.. have a heart.. I'm going to be out all day today... :-).

ioiio said...

BAbcock Hall - LOL ROTFL :))

waiting to see ur violent side.. Hehhehe :))

Anonymous said...

Thanks bhai for acknowledging my request and keeping your word. Well described, enjoyable 1st part and I'm looking forward for the 2nd part eagerly. Hats off to A and B for keeping you alive to do some really good blogging!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

you mentioned only abt Indians in your dorm but not others ...Y can't you post something abt ur experiences with others too "Especially people from France" LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey...Didn't notice that this post was in parts..So, I can hope something abt people from other nationalities in your next post...what say you?....

silverine said...

Hilarious!!!! Really enjoyed this post. lol So well described . Especially the pokey Indians. Guess we are like this only :))

Akruti said...

Thanks Anu and Bhagi,iof not for both of you we would have missed his writings:)

Leon said...

[Satya] I'm coming to New York next week.. Beware.. ;-)

[Anonymous] Thanks.. But the phrase "Especially people from France" has let the cat out of the bag. I now know that you are certainly a friend of mine here at UNH even if you do not live in Babcock.
Another clarification.. The first anonymous comment at 12:17 pm mentions you were waiting for the 2nd part while the third one at 12:35 pm says you didn't notice this post was in parts. duh???

[Silverine] Indians need to know EVERYTHING.. lol. Note the comment above that asks me to talk about people from france... ;-).

[Akruti] Thanks Akruti, I'm sure that comment of yours means a very special meal for me tonight... ;-).

Anonymous said...

anonymous need not be a single person....hehehe......

Leon said...

Oh God.. Not another anonymous character out to get me.. give me a break.. (sigh)

ioiio said...

Naan ennikkumey "Beware of Dogs" dhaan.
Lol

Anonymous said...

Hello again,

This is the orignal Wangjay Gangtok from Darjeeling, India. I would strongly advise all other Gangtok-wannabes to keep it down and lay low cuz "Im slim-wangjay, and Im the real wangjay, all you other slim-wangay's just immatating [...]".

Mr. Leon, I found your little write-tup mildly amusing although not entirely laudable for its share of shittles of originality. Really, how many million paragraphs will we have to endure before we stop being subjected to the same ol same ol about Indians and, Indians cooking and the cooking not being good enough etc. etc.? Surely, we can do much better. Good thing you have a second chance.

Anonymous said...

And one more thing: never fudge with my name Leon, never ["you Vidya for that deadline.... :p. Yangbai Gangtok, you should be satisfied now. I’m "]

As for my identity ... it will only be revealed post mortem. Think of me as Deepthroat II.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leon said...

It is indeed unfortunate that I am unable to disable anonymous comments, the problem being that quite a few of my readers are not registered users...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you have a problem with the critic! lol

Retro Virus said...

Your writing is so profound Leon ... I am deeply affected by your writing. What makes you tick? What inspires you to write so beautifully? How can you come up with such witty and masterful essays? They are just amazing. You should take up writing professionally. You will leave all the naysayers and writers of today in the dust!

hope and love said...

nice read.. plz write more abt ur experiences..

Jinguchakka said...

good one

Leon said...

[Satya] good one.. lol.. Other funny hall names on my campus.. Stoke, Engelhardt, Hetzel, Pettee.. lol.

[Anon] If I did have a problem with the critic.. I would probably have deleted the offending comment. It is not the criticism that ticked me off but the nature of the comments.

[Anon -> Wangbai Gangtok] A couple of my friends posted anonymous comments and tried to impersonate you to puzzle me and they have told me about it.. You are indeed right in saying that you are no friend of mine..

[Retro virus] Whoa, those are big words indeed.. Thanks.. :-)

[Hope and love] Thanks.. I hope to..

[Jinguchakka] Thank you.. glad you liked it.

Divya said...

need i contribute now Nirmal???

Anonymous said...

and now that u've rec., 20 odd comments... isnt it time for PART 2???.... wat say anonymous?... and Mr.Gangtok?... y isnt Ms.V putting pressure for part 2 anymore?... she is probably bored with this latest read??.. wat say Ms.v?...

Retro Virus said...

I miss Leon's writing. Something seems missing since I first read his blog. I think I am too addicted to his writing. It is too good to be an amateur's attempt. Please Leon, please, leave everything else and write! You are born to do this. Just continue to writing. With time I think you will progress expeditiously. You have it in you. I hope you are in some sort of a liberal arts type field ... if not, NOW is the time to switch.

Ms. V said...

Well anon, he asked me to "have a heart". So I'm pretending to be understanding. If I'm bored about anything, it's the waiting! Patience is not my virtue! ;)

Waise I don't think you can blame the post for being "boring" (in your opinion). Because writing should be spontaneous. And he's only keeping up a promise he made in jest, which is really nice of him indeed.

I find that everytime I'm asked to particularly write about something, it eventually sucks. I like it when I write what I want to write about.

Nirmal, just finish Part 2 and get on to something you wish to write about. Please :)

Leon said...

[Divs] huh?

[Retro virus] Actually I'm not into Liberal Arts. I'm a computer science student. And btw, there are tons of other bloggers out there who write far better than I do. You probably haven't come across them yet. Try some of the links on my blog pals list.. happy reading.. :-)

[Vids] Thanks a lot for the support.. I needed it.. :-). And also.. thanks for having a heart.. thanks for saying I'm nice.. and thanks for saying please.. ;-).

Ms. V said...

Welcome, welcome, welcome. And did I say welcome?

Neon said...

Im sorry, but Babcock hall is ... mildly amusing!

VHS said...

Haven't been in a dorm ever and I know I have missed something. I am sure you would have had better tales to tell had you been in the typical dorm with cots aligned vertically and horizontally ;-). Nice read though.

Leon said...

[vids] lol (since I know u hate that) :p

[Neon] Thanks for the feedback..

[vhs] Perhaps you will get a chance to experience dorm life first hand someday. Thanks for stopping by.. :-)

Anonymous said...

retro must be out of his mind. Leon's writing sucks like a newborn. Perhaps he has too much time on his hands. In fact all you bloggers probably have too much time on your hands to whine about trivia. Why dont you guys spend time on the important problems facing us today instead of blabbering your heart out. Shut up and act pigeonoids!

Ms. V said...

Mr. anonymous... It's funny how you have the balls to say stuff like that.

For one, retro was merely stating his opinion. You do know what an opinion means, don't you?
Secondly, if you're going to use metaphors, you might as well use those that make sense. Using phrases like this makes "your writing suck like a newborn"!

If he has too much time on his hands, good for him. Who wouldn't love to have time? Just because you may be slogging your ass off, don't be jealous.

The person who is whining here is you. Why does it bother you that people blog? Because you don't have the time? Because you can't write as well? Because you're just too plain lazy?
And why don't you spend time on the important problems facing us today instead of blabbering on some person's comment box?

It's so easy to be "anonymous" and talk crap, isn't it? I don't see what made you believe that people who don't know you will give a rat's ass about what you think or say.

I recommend you go back to your very "fruitful life" and stay out of this blogosphere that you despise so much. We write because we want to. No one invited you to come and read. The fact that you think this blog was worth your time to even post a comment says a lot.

Anyway, I'm off to save the world!

Anonymous said...

In reverse order:

Somebody mentioned that there are bloggers writing about magnificent things ... so I decided to check out whether there was indeed any seriously good writing about any seriously important things. What did I find: No and no. Why did I post a comment: Perhaps it _will_ change atleast one blogger's mind and advance him on the correct way ... :-))))

People wouldn't give a rat's ass about my opinion? I hardly think so. People blog because they would love for someone to say how profound their thinking is ... although most of you would emphatically deny it. Moreover, Ms.V ... you certainly did give more than a horse's behind about what I had to say ...

I can write well. I am a free-lance, part time critic at a "medium" scale
magazine/newspaper/website. I am heavily recruited by other superstar magazines as well ... but I cannot see myself writing crap (of the kind I see here) about crap. :-)

Do I spend time on important problems? Yes. For the other 95% of the time I am a research scientist at a large scale lab where we certainly solve important problems. (If we dont hell, I dont think anybody does!)

If he wastes time its good for him? Only an imbecile would give this advice to their friend/colleague! You have to be seriously ignorant or blind to not know how scarce a resource an active mind is when it comes to working on important problems in the world. I dont think you are either Ms V ... but rage and pride does strange things to people. [And I would be jealous of some crappy writer? :-)]

"Your writing sucks like a newborn". I haven't heard a wittier metaphor like this ... atleast on this "bog"-board! [If I have to spell it out to you Ms V, newborns suck ... on everything including their thumbs ... i.e., the idea is to convey a sense of all-pervasive suckiness ... a metaphor in the same vein as "drinks like a fish" ... get it V? Give it some time to sink in.]

As for retro's opinion, I was countering it with my own! Ms V .. dont you forget that we all have the right to express our opinions, including the critic. Look at retro's words: they seem ridiculous. In fact, the author of this blog even agrees ... to an extent.

Now why is it funny for someone to have the balls to ... another misuse of an overused phrase ["its funny that ... "]. You could have said "Its an outrage that you have the nerve to say something like this ...." or "Its shameful that you speak such disgust!" .. or "You Anon ... you evil-snake of a person .." ... or something more effectively spiteful. And despite, you choose to stick to the mediocre and quite impotent and honestly, an almost nonsensical insult, V. I am disappointed again! Oh well ... what's new?

Leon said...

[Anon] I would appreciate it if you could leave the name of your medium scale magazine/newspaper/website and the name of your large scale research lab. Please also provide me with the link to any ONE article that has been published on the above mentioned website.

Until you do.. whatever Vidya said holds.. :-).. Thanks..

Anonymous said...

NIH and Nature.

Anonymous said...

I need to provide you with nothing. I know that I have made my point for silly V. :-P

I dont care what you think "holds" L ... quite irrelevant given the level of your writing LOL.

savithru said...

Did you say "Babcock Hall"? So the residents of this so called hall are "Babcockers". Hmmmmmm.... bro this gives me ideas...lol

I need to correct you here. Babcock is not the only international residence hall. It is the only Graduate Students residence hall.

I guess I can say I was one of the victims of your cooking. I very well know your Potato Fry...I wonder if I gave you a clue about myself....so what???? ..lol

I can only imagine you holding the curtain with one hand and taking shower. That part of the blog was funny.

Leon said...

You're right. I stand corrected. Thanks.

Anyone who talks of my potato fry is a victim of my cooking indeed.. hehe. Glad to hear you are alive and well.

savithru said...

I thought I gave you a clue about myself when I mentioned about the potato fry. I dont think you gave enough thought to identify me.

Try again Nirmal.

JJ said...

I think I heard all this directly from you!.... actually, that's what made me read it!!!