Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speak American

We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.
- John Steinbeck, America and Americans
It's been a while since I updated this blog. Thanks to my room-mate who brought a laptop here that I get to access the internet whenever I need it. I am in touch with almost everybody I wish to through e-mail. Getting a phone still seems to be difficult with SSN a necessary requirement. There are phones available that don't seek any signing of contracts but they sound expensive in the long run. I might probably go for AT&T but I am yet to figure out how I am going to work around the SSN thing. InshAllah tomorrow something should come up.

The evening I moved into my apartment my aunt had already seen me off with enough food for dinner not just for me but also for my four room mates. The next day was Sunday and my breakfast was cereal. That's the easiest and the most nutritious breakfast. Then we went to Walmart for some shopping. I couldn't resist chocolates, chocolate syrup, ice cream and cheese. There were many things we needed to start a home here. Alhamdulillah things are going great.

I had my first experience with comprehensive cooking today when I prepared a curry with tomatoes and potatoes. It came out wonderfully well. I didn't expect that quality. It's easy to prepare rice using the cooker. We also had another curry ready with us - the packed one. Bread, yogurt - though I don't eat, milk, juice, cheese, chocolate, cereal, ice cream and eggs are plenty in here right now. Food alhamdulillah it hardly an issue. It's just that one of us has to delegate and cook a curry for dinner everyday. That doesn't seem like any problem.

The university provides shuttle services too which are free of charge for the students. We students even get free passes that work for the other buses and trains here. The transport system in Dallas is called as DART and it's all free of charge for me. In our apartment we keep charts of all the available routes. There are many things we are learning and I am a kind of enjoying it. It's fun, it's challenging and it's necessary. Our house here is very luxurious though we have no furniture. Carpeting provides comfort in every corner and AC helps us forget the hot temperatures outside.

It's great to be in the university. I have attended a class each till now for the three courses I have registered in and I liked all the instructors. Though I have a lot of hard work to do to get A in each course, inshAllah I don't think I will find it difficult. There are many activities I can get involved into in the university but right now I am preferring staying away from them. I need to spend time getting used to the change I am undergoing. I see no other option than adopting what's coming so it makes no difference whether it is easy or not. I just have to do it. I live in an America we are supposed to deserve! At least that is how they say it.

As long as I was in my relative's house it was honeymoon for me. It's luxury here at my apartment too but not like how it was there. My aunt used to take care of me like my mother or my grandmother used to, my uncle always used to be concerned about my well-being. They are around 16 miles away from here now. I am in McCallum in Richardson and they are in Murphy. I am not sure when I am going to meet them next but inshAllah I will stay in close contact with them always.

It's not easy to stay away from what I have called as home for over 21 years. I have always had my parents and my best friends around me. I have nobody here who was with me for so much time. Every thing's new and fresh. I am called as FOB -Fresh Off the Board! I miss my parents, I miss my friends, I miss so much. I tel myself that this had to come and this is how it should be. I have bigger commitments now I need to take care of. It must not be expected of me to tell anybody if I have cried after coming here. It's something insignificant. It's expected. It's in the system. I have to finish my masters soon. I have to get married. And bigger things start from there. Allah decides everything.

We have had two orientations till now - one was general for all international students and the other was for those into Computer Sciences. The International Student Orientation also contained a lecture on Cultural Shock. I am waiting for some lightening to strike me. It's all like I knew how it was going to be here. I am from a big city like Hyderabad, I have had so many relatives and friends living in the United States for so long, I have read and seen so much about this place - it's can't shock me so easily. Of course there are times when I see something and tell myself "oookkaaay". But it's alright. Today I saw a girl aged around 20 lying completely on the footpath while waiting for the bus. I looked at her blankly for a second and that was it. There were some Indian students there who seemed to be puzzled. It's alright - it's America.

After the Honeymoon phase an irritation phase is expected. Then comes the adjustment phase. I think I am working around these phases quickly given that I know why I am here and where I need to go. When we have our eyes fixed on the goals we seldom give any importance to the trouble the road to that goal might give. Allah has created everything - whether it's here in the US or back home in India. As long as I worship Allah I know I am on the right path. I thank Allah for the decisions I could take till now and the luxury he has supplied me with. He has made many things very easy for me Alhamdulillah.

The last time I spoke to my parents was on Thursday. It was Thursday here at least - it must have been Friday there. Though I feel like talking to them frequently I know that it's not a good idea. I need to get used to not hearing their voice. There are many things I need to get used to which I would never prefer if I had the option. Having no option makes things easy. Just before leaving India I had read that Allah doesn't like any humans grieving. It's sinful to be sad. Now, I don;t remember where exactly I had read it but all I remember is what it meant and that it was authentic. So, whenever I feel sad about something I remind me of this. Of course it's not easy to leave so many loves ones behind... that is how it must be. Allah knows what is good.

My trip to Houston after I came here was very satisfying. I was there to meet my father's elder brother and his family. After that once I returned to Dallas I met many people from my uncle's family. I have been to many places around, seen many new things and worked myself around several experiences. I feel in love with the University of Texas at Dallas at first sight. The more time I spent there the more I keep liking it. I even got to play table tennis and pool here. There are many more games I can explore whenever I want to. It's all open for me. There are too many things to do and too less time. I wish I could keep on writing but I need to go to bed. I thank Allah for how things are now. I thank my parents for supporting me. I still wish I could keep on writing. I am not satisfied.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Alhamdulillah I landed at Dallas Fort Worth Airport yesterday around 9:20 pm local time. My uncle and a cousin were there already to receive me. I am at their house right now alhamdulillah. I had started from Hyderabad when it was Tuesday there. My flight to Mumbai was delayed by 40 minutes. And at Mumbai I had to wait in a long queue to board a coach which was supposed to take me to the international terminal. I was in time for everything. We started for Brussels around 2:30 am. Now I don't remember what the local time at Brussels was when we touched down there. It was 1:20 pm New York time when I finally adjusted my watch at Newark.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
- Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
Just before touching down at Newark I got to see Statue of Liberty from far. It was a wonderful experience all trough my journey. I spend many hours at the airport in Newark moving around. I even had to board a train to move from terminal B to terminal C. In short, the journey was very good. I only wished that the food served was a little more in quantity! I opted for vegetarian meals everywhere. When I reached Dallas my uncle server me biryani at his home. May Allah bless him; he is taking good care of me.

I didn't cry when I left my parents in Hyderabad. I had asked them not to do that too. It was all smooth alhamdulillah. I know things are going to get tough for me from now. It's a different world which I had seen only on the TV! I don't feel like a foreigner. I am yet to go out and see Dallas under the sun light. I pray to Allah that I get used to the change soon. I don't want to cry for anything. I don't want to sit thinking what I must do to feel good. I want to study well and be a good Muslim. May Allah guide me.