Inspired from #NYC yet the feeling will always be #Desi

Inspired from #NYC yet the feeling will always be #Desi

Waking up to a Sound of Ice Cream Truck, I quickly rose up from the ground with the push of my hands to peep outside the square window only to notice that it was already dark outside. I didn't know how I dozed off to sleep suddenly when I had decided not to until its the right time to sleep. 

It was a strange feeling in my stomach and I don't remember how exactly I felt about 4 years ago on my first day in New York City. I had been there to pursue my Graduate degree from NYU. It was also my very first day away from my family thousands of miles away from home. Having a mixed feeling of being nervous, scared, home-sick and little excitement to know whats happening outside the room, I got up on my feet only to notice the 2 other pair of eye balls staring at me. I quickly realized that they were also picked up along with me from the John F Kennedy International Airport by GISA(graduate Indian Student Association). They were equally jet lagged and perplexed to share a small room with 2 other people and their respective luggage which doesn't usually restrict to 1 suitcase specially if you are coming from  The Incredible India.

Temporary Accommodation stayed in the top most Floor

Gathering to go for house hunt

I remember spending the following few days in hunt of a permanent Accommodation in the Richmond neighborhood of the Borough of Queens. Queens and Jersey city are the only 2 places close to the main Campus in Brooklyn that Indian Students prefer said Jake, one of my friends who joined me in my hunt for permanent accommodation. Out of curiosity to know why, I got to know the major reason being that the houses in Queens and Jersey City which is equidistant and at opposite sides of Main Manhattan island are cheaper and second reason being the presence of lot of Indians around which make the Indian students feel at home. It was a good feeling to know that but at the same time, I found myself cribbing to my friends and soon going to be houemates that it is so unfortunate to see Indians all around you being in America. I found myself looking for more of American dream kinda feeling (if you know what I am saying). It was not just me but whoever has been there has felt the same way, the reason being the expectations from a country like USA, which usually these TV series and movies represent. In reality, part is true and part is a myth. Definitely 100% myth for an international student traveling to USA and landing up in an Indian neighborhood.

With consistent effort and wandering around, we found a four bedroom house with an attic close to the house we were temporarily residing. It was a very rustic, not so well maintained house but in a good living condition as it was recently cleaned carpeted for the new tenants which happened to be us. The landlord was an Indian but the neighbors were Guyanese. Guyanese are a very nice Indian like people had settled in their comfortable houses with their families. They were actually as a matter of fact from an Indian origin. The story goes back to the British rule when they migrated to West Indies regarding work and planned to stay back. I remember the basement of the house was rented out to a Guyanese Family who had a dealer in the family. Dealer of the stuff that had a weird smell when burned and smoked. Anyways the point of saying that is to give a thrill of my early encounter with the US lifestyle and the fact that our house was frequently visited by NYPD for obvious reasons.

We spent the next few days  organizing, managing and assigning various house work and tasks. That included to start with that who will get which room to stay as all the rooms were unfairly sized. After a lot of debate, we 8 guys came to a conclusion that we switch rooms quarterly. 3 months per room for a one year lease that we had signed ourselves into, then we can decide on who wants to stay back and continue in the same house. The roommates of the room were fixed though and were voluntarily picked. On that note, I admit that sometimes your decisions backfire on you as it did for me when it comes to selecting the right roommate. Anyways, the tasks also included the cooking ,cleaning , grocery and other basic schedules for each person in the house. These schedules were followed for the initial few months but it became unmanageable once we entered our midterm exam timings and so did the house mess. Well in fact that was expected. 

Our House Backyard with the 2 roommates Swapnil Thakur and Rohit Veni

 

Celebrating my First Birthday In US with (left to right)

Mihir Valotia, Anish Patil, Akshay Brid, Jake Dsouza, Myself

& Swapnil Thakur(Holding Camera)

We had a very good backyard with the house as well which became a good space for occasional parties, weekend sports or just for leisure and discussions. A lot of memories were created in that house on various occasions and events that occurred with an inexperienced tenants like ourselves trying to do things Desi style but falling on our face each time we tried doing something the way we did in India. Few of the events include cleaning bathroom floor with water only to find out that there is no outlet, Playing cricket in the house forgetting that the walls are no longer constructed of bricks but wood. We created a lot of damage on the walls but our Indian landlord was always considerate of our Naivety. He wasn't obviously considerate enough to return our entire security deposit at the end of the year though.

This is still about the initial days of my journey to US for further studies where I learned a lot about independent life. The changes were abrupt but expected but were not well prepared for. I knew no one over there except few familiar faces in the form of my housemates. From arranging the Phone Sim card to leasing the house, from cooking food to cleaning the bathroom, we had to try our hands on everything ourselves. Worst was the nightmare of getting the garbage out of the kitchen on to the streets on the night before the garbage day or it was called garbage night I forgot. The changes were apparent something as small as liters to Gallons. kg to pounds, degree Celsius to degree Fahrenheit, km to Miles to as big as using the toilet paper instead of hand shower. Trust me that was a biggie for me along with the fact that I had to laundry, dry and iron my own clothes, which In fact the ironing I never did until the last minute. The major struggle I had and I still have or I should say the biggest bad habit I have is I never was interested in folding the clothes that came out of the dryer and organizing it in the closet. In fact most of the times it remained in my laundry  bag until it was time again for the laundry and the cycle continued. All of this represents one important part of my life. That's my Family. At times I used to miss my family, nephew, niece, long distance girlfriend (in those days, not anymore), specially MOM, I missed and realized her real importance. Like other I kept on keeping on and faced the struggle of independent life which was fun and tough as the time progressed.

Ohh Yes, the shopping required in terms of groceries and house or personal and bathroom furniture's was a separate struggle in itself. The debates on affordability, economical and the famous habit of converting the currency from dollars to Indian Rupees to make a decision lead us to a lot of trouble mostly ending up in not deciding to buy anything or buying something from a Dollar Store Or 99 cents store which never lasted long.

 

There are  lot of stories and memories we have had together. this post goes out to my buddies in those times  Akshay Brid, Jake Dsouza, Rohit Veni, Swapnil Thakur, Mihir Valotia, Abhishek Jadhav, Saransh Makwana, Tom Mathews, Anish Patil, Manoj Gupta.. We have come a long way Miss you Guys :)

By,

Anis Weldon

09/10/2015