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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Awaited August Of 2008

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
- A.A. Milne
The other day a friend asked me why I wasn't updating my blog and I told him that it's to avoid being misunderstood on several fronts. When I updated last I had to remove a paragraph which I thought contained sensitive facts about me. I wanted to tell that to everybody out of some fainting excitement but by the time I reviewed the post that excitement had already fainted. Later I realized it's better not to pin up things in excitement. Responding is a lot healthier than reacting. There are two specific reasons why I am writing today - I am missing some friends and suddenly I seem to have thought of the coming change.

I have known about the changing for many weeks now but it's just something that comes up suddenly. It's like a bubble formed deep inside the waters by some plant, the water knows about it's formation, the surface too knows that something is going to come up and burst and then suddenly the surface tension is compromised by the bubble and the water is puzzled. It's a known but unfelt fact! I wish I had my best friends with me now and I could share all this with them and then spend sometime talking nothing cherishing the silent moments with the joy of having their company. I can't have times like these with some of them now. 11:50 pm in the evening I don't find it proper to call any of those who are still here.

It's 1:27 am now! The moment I finished the above paragraph my cousin called up. It was the much awaited talk we both had to have. It was soothing talking to him especially when I wanted some comfort. As a bottom line we discussed how blessed we are Alhamdulillah. One of my cousin brothers is getting married next week and we are expecting a great time with already four dinners confirmed. I have been waiting for this cousin's marriage since many months. He has been a guide for me and he getting married is very exciting. I remember every thing he has taught me till now.

I am spending the kind of days I will never again have in my life. I can sleep anytime I want, I can have food whenever I like and go out whenever I feel with any of my friends or relatives. I am having wonderful time with my parents and brother. Some times I wonder how I can thank Allah for all these wonder things He has given me. At times I get afraid at how perfectly things take place. It's all surreal and fantastic. I pray to Allah that everything remains nice always - even in the Akhirah. I want to be on the right path forever.

It confounds me to see how my flow of writing is never persistent every time I write. Even in a single post things vary between extremes. My mood at times appears, things I pretend to hide and things I refuse to share do get reflected in every word I type. I cannot imagine how things are going to be with this blog a few years from now. I don't even know for how long I may keep writing here. I don't know who is going to take me ahead. I never thought of writing as a serious profession but definitely I am going to take a try some day. Writing is not just about having the ability to write. It's also about the ability to sell!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Geometry

When a man is in love or in debt, someone else has the advantage.
- Bill Balance
With 18 more days left for me in Hyderabad I already feel that I don't belong to this place anymore. I am being made to feel that way. Everything I look at tells me that it's not going to stay before my eyes for longer. When I meet people they ask me about my preparations, they ask me about the date on which I am leaving and they ask me how I feel about it. It feels nice. It feels warm to be given time and to be asked something. It feels nice to see my parents happy. It doesn't feel good when I think that they will miss me when I am gone. Though if they tell me they are not going to miss me it will definitely make me feel worse.

I have no clue of how I am going to feel once I am there. Some times I want these left over days to go past me very fast. But I know I will never get them back again. I have many more things left to do, I have so much to talk to my parents, I want to spend time with them, I want to spend time with my brother, my cousins, my grandmother, my uncles, aunts and I want to see some of my friends again because I still can't believe they are gone forever. I know it will help me if I believe that.

I am looking forward for the change. It's suposed to be called as the American Dream but the problem is I won't have my beloved with me. It's hard but it's harder to explain. I can't thank Allah enough for giving me a chance to study in a university like University of Texas at Dallas. I will be rubbing shoulders with people who are best in the field. As long as I stay focused at my objective of scoring a good GPA I know my time there will be worth staying away from my parents. I want them to feel more proud of me. I want every person who loves me to become proud of me. And I will dedicate all the success I might achieve to them. Allah decides and everything and that brings tears to my eyes.

I am almost done with my shopping. Today I even purchased a new pair spectacles. I saw so many models at the shop and whenever I looked at the one I already own it appeared as the best to me! Alhamdulillah I hardly get any of my glasses broken so even the old one looks nice. After a long time in front of my mother and the mirror I liked a frame which appeared to be of low quality. The one I finally purchased is the costliest ever I have taken in the nine years. Mamma liked it too so I took it. Today I bought the third pair of jeans too. This is for the first time in 12 years that I am buying jeans for myself. I am told that students in universities dress more casually there in US and the kind of wardrobe I have presently is not even close to what is considered normal there. So I even had to shop of T-shirts.

University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) is in Richardson which is 20 kilometers or 16 miles from Dallas. Richardson houses offices of 5,700 of the world's renowned telecom and technology companies. This readily makes UTD as ther direct choice to recruit students from. I will inshAllah persue my MS in Computers and Information Sciences in The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science which is the engineering school in UTD. I am hoping to take up Software Engineering as the specialization which is ranked at 24th in the world for UTD.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Eighteenth of This Month

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Leonardo DaVinci
Today marks the end of a year and a day since the day I got recruited by Infosys. I was supposed to report at Mysore on 14th of this month but I chose to have a different decision made. Unless I get specific, I get to convey nothing. It was just a click of a button on my phone and there was no turning back. The characters must have travelled the electronic route looking for the recipient who was sitting right in front of me. I didn't think much about that message and it's consequences since then, I chose to let procedures take care of the rest. Allah knows the route I will be taking now. He knows what is right. I pray for safety from a fear I cannot share.

It's hard to guess what takes priority when not everything can be put forth. Nevertheless there are facts to be noted but I tend to shy away from putting them into this void. Or perhaps I pretend to shy away not able to stand the seriousness involved in them. Since the moment I got up from the last nap a little more than an hour back I have been experiencing severe emotional fluctuations in my neural circuitry. The hope that had to be forced into a different void, a prayer that seems to have been accepted and the confidence that it was naive return no favors. A tool like a hammer causes pain while undergoing pain.

It's been an incredible experience walking in the clouds amid fears. The walk continues alhamdulillah making every bit worth appreciating, making me wait for the next bits to come and making me pray they take a shape of my desire and return favors for nothing I have done. If I deserved all that I desire then there would be no desires left worth being fulfilled even if I deserved them. I see something carrying me away at a time there is something else I must focus on. And this time it's not me alone playing the one that deviates - these are the concerns that pledge to give happiness. I ask these concerns: "can you hold my hand forever till we someday together reach hell and then go to heaven?"

Friday, July 11, 2008

For The Last Time

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.
- Peter Ustinov
I said another goodbye today. It made a lot of difference. Nothing felt like sad when my friend was leaving. I was wished an awesome life and I replied with "to you too" and it was all over. We might meet someday in the years to come. We might never meet in the whole of lifetime. I will for sure make new friends, have new experiences, but this friend will never come back. So many of my friends will be leaving one by one and I would never be able to tell them how much I love them. I come from a society where love is seldom expressed. No matter what quantity it is of, it is expected to stay invisible.

This post should have arrived some days before but there was barely any reason I thought I must write. It was a like my ability to even write a single sentence on my own was taken away from me. Today, I write because I am in pain. I write for all those lovely times I spent with my parents and friends. I write for those days which are never going to come back. I write with a hope that I will feel better once again. That I can shed some tears. I am selfish - I write for my solace. Every person finds his pain as the largest unless he or she is in love. I do not know what's going on inside me. I will go blank if I don't write.

I am supposed to be happy for my friends who are going to start with Infosys. I am supposed to be proud of those who are already in Accenture. But I don't understand how I can feel good about all of it when this form of happiness and pride is self-defeating for me - it takes my friends away from me; a few of them away from me forever. I am a slave of my emotions - even if this is illogical to the core. I want them back. I want to have them here with me now - 12:34 am in the morning I dream of having my best friends with me by my side. I know it's a dream denied fulfilment. My throat aches for my heart.

I was so glad when I was selected by Infosys. I was so happy I had some of my friends with me too. We used to talk about it, we used to feel so great about being selected and what all it meant. And now the day has come when the same happiness causes pain and it is very, very painful. It's like praying for rain but not going to the Mosque because it is raining. I know this had to come. I know it was going to be painful. I hope I am not expected to be happy and smiling when I simply cannot. I want to apologise to Allah for the grief I am causing to myself.

I stare at the monitor with my neck half tilted and my head hardly moving. Things seem empty and blank but there is so much around and within I cannot explain. I keep looking at my phone every few minutes hoping that I would be sent some message by a friend or somebody would call - I don't know what I am expecting. I am ready to be called a fool. I won't mind being called a fool that I try to be so emotional with any of my friends, tell them how I feel or how much I would miss them. I am a fool if they respond to me just to make me happy and they don't feel anything in return. I won't mind that. I am already in pain.

I wanted to thank each of them; apologise to each of them. But no part of the culture I am a part of supports such conversations with friends. Perhaps the conversations I want to have demand no words - I just want to sit and stare at them seeing them laughing and enjoying. I suppose I will surely do that though I may not have them in front of my eyes. I might yearn to see some of them again; I might cry; I might feel like a fool again; I might move on and never get time to cry again. My eyes get filled the moment I imagine myself crying. Tears roll the moment I even think of any of my friends crying. I don't have the capacity to see that now.

I can go on and on with today's post. I can write till the sun shines again. But I need some time to cry, some time for myself, some time to settle things within me. I have to meet some friends tomorrow and say them goodbyes. I don't want even a drop of tear to appear in my eyes when I see them leave. I will go into pieces if I see water in any of their eyes tomorrow; I don't know if my crying makes any difference to anybody apart from me; I don't want to make a fool of myself. So much I wish I convert all my heart into words. I am sorry.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Struggle To Become A Person

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.
- Dale Carnegie
As every Tuesday and Friday passes by with my case ID still quoted as "Process Pending" it keeps getting more certain that I will have to join Infosys. It was the end of fourth week today and there is still no response from the consulate about my visa. After hearing a lot about four weeks being taken by them for such cases, I hear the response time now as 40 days. I received a packet from Infosys today which contained legal papers I am supposed to sign to start with their training on July 14th at Mysore. June 3rd to July 13th makes it 40 days. I have some decisions to make now.

The case-list gets updated again on July 4th, 8th and 11th. 11th will be my last chance to know if I can book my tickets for Dallas or Mysore. But there is a risk. My most logical conclusion as of now is to postpone my joining date. If I have to do that I will have to do it well before 11th - 11th is a Friday and the list gets updated only after 5 pm. Should I decide after 5 pm to postpone, it's going to be too late. But then again I am not sure how many days more I can take from Infosys. What if I don't get any news from the consulate even then? I will have wasted those days just waiting.

If I go ahead with Infosys and leave Hyderabad on 12th and if I hear from the consulate anytime after that, I will have legal implications binding me with the company. I will have to pay them some good amounts to get rid of the bond. Even if I have to leave in the training period I will have to shell out thousands. If it is after the training I will have to pay them Rs. 75,000 to relieve me of the binding. If I join Infosys I will have to defer my admission in the university by one semester or two semesters at the most. If I defer by one semester I will have to join UTD in January. By then I wil have completed a little less than six months at Infosys but only four months there in some project they might assign me into. If I defer by two semesters I will have to join UTD in August 2009. Even till then my bond of one year won't get over as it starts from the day I am put into some project.

Now if I get my joining date at Infosys postponed by a month - though I am not sure how they will let me do it - I might get to join in August if I don't get the visa by then. My date of reporting at UTD in August 18th so I will definitely miss that if there is no visa. I might get it sometime later enabling me to reach there in January. I will have the option of paying the money to Infosys and leaving them. The other option will be to continue with them till August, then pay the money to leave. In this particular case I will be able to save Rs. 75,000 not putting the burden on my parents. If I want to reach US in January then I will have to take money from my parents which I would strongly hate.

Postponing by a month to wait for the visa and joining Infosys to work for them till August 2009 is the most logical thing I can do now. But that puts emotional implications on me. In my last post here I mentioned my mother telling me how things will be delayed for me by a year. Taken as whole any person reading this will call me a fool if I let it affect me. People viewing all of it from outside will tell me that all these option I have are still a luxury for me. So be it. When I have plans for the coming four years, six years and then 10 years, I will definitely not like even one year being added to each of them. I thank Allah that I don't see failure; I only see delay. I am still so happy alhamdulillah.

If I get the much awaited call from the consulate on 4th or 8th, or if I get it before August 14th after I postpone Infosys's joining date, I won't waste any time sending them my passport and booking the ticket to Dallas or Houston. This would mean that I will not have to waste any time in continuation of my run towards a good job. Infosys too offers a very good job and I should always be thankful to them for recruiting me and letting me have so much honor and peace of mind. I will always be thankful to Allah that I have always had options to choose to from. And this way alhamdulillah not even a single year will be wasted in my quest.

Sometime back two of my friends who are in final year of engineering in my college now called me. They informed that they have made through the selection process of Infosys successfully and in all 129 students were selected. One of them had come to my house some weeks back to listen to what all I had to tell him about the selection process. The other had called me last Sunday to talk about it. Listening to them made me so happy. And I was so glad that they informed me within minutes after the results were declared to them.