Saturday, May 9, 2009

An eventful trip 2

And thus I arrived at the "Newark" Penn station at 2.20 AM, to begin my hour long wait for the Philly Amtrak express. Having lived in the States for 4 years, I am not under any delusion that its a land of milk and honey everywhere. But, at the same time I wasn't quite prepared for what I saw. It was a cold winter night and the station had central heating. It was also filled with scores of homeless people (read mostly black men in ragged clothes). It was scary. Scary, that any of them could rob me for the possibilities of a few dollars. But also sad. Sad that all of them were already stereotyped in my mind's eye in less than a second. USA, is certainly the land of opportunities. But it can also be as cold as that winter night to those who fell thru' those cracks in life.

The homeless were not allowed to lie down and sleep. There were a couple of cops making sure that nobody slept. All those lonely people spend night after night standing inside the railway station to survive the winter. I am sure that some of them wudn't mind trading places with the slum mates of Andheri.

As usual there was a desi shop in there. The shopkeeper started playing Swades CD the moment he saw me. For lack of anything better to do, I hung around in the shop for sometime. And eventually bought a plum cake. As I was eating my midnight snack, a black lady stepped inside the station. I guess she was stone chilled. Soon, she started what seemed to be an erratic jog at the same place. Perhaps she was trying to beat the chill. Even more weird was her chanting. I really cudn't place the language. It seemed like some New Orleans Wicca - or ancient Swahili. LOL. It was certainly heart wrenching to watch the American poverty in action. My eyes were fighting to shut down. Thankfully the train arrived.

3.20 AM
Once inside the train, I felt safer. Almost everyone was asleep. Looks like mass transit is popular in the East coast. Or may be there are just more poor people out there. I still couldn't afford to sleep. An hour wudn't be enough to wake up.

4.30 AM
Philadelphia Junction! Yay. I felt proud at the way I had engineered my trip successfully thus far, despite the plane SNAFU. Now, just one more step - to get to the hotel.

I guess I have to continue the story again tomorrow. Hopefully. LOL. But, neva trust granpa. :) You never know how long its gonna take me. Today my eyelids dont yield. Arrgh..I'm getting older. Ready to walk on the sunset boulevard.

Oh ... I am still alive!

Its been forever since I wrote. Lots of things have happened. And every time time something interesting happened, trust me I was about to write it all out on the blog...Just somehow it never happened :) LOL. I am promising myself the 100th time now to be more regular in my posts. After all, my grand kids do need to read about the exploits of their wonderful granpa! I do wish I live long enough to play with them. Sigh... I am already looking forward to the sunset boulevard. I want to retire happy and content and spend all my time playing with them gran kids. But..not yet! not yet! Indeed there are miles to go..........

Sunday, March 8, 2009

An eventful trip 1

This happened a few weeks ago. This blog has become a semi-diary by now, it is perhaps appropriate that I record that night..even though the ensuing time period has diminished my recollection. Perhaps one day my grand kids would read the chronicles of the good-ol' granpa. Hmm...wishful thinking.

6:00 PM
So, I was all excited that evening as I drove to the airport. I had successfully landed yet another interview with a finance company (an options market maker to be precise). The job if I landed it, would be my first 100k+ job. So the excitement was justified. I reached the airport well on time , parked my car and had a quick check in. I was hoping to spend my estimated half hour wait till boarding at a bookstore leeching on some new release. But bad news awaited me at the gate.

7:15 PM
The flight was delayed due to some weather issues. The airline carrier which is big on its cost cutting measures told me that I would have to wait till next morning. Which meant I would have to miss the interview I had so carefully engineered. My mind starts racing and I quickly check for possible re routing. The customer service person tells me that there is no way I can be at Philly by next morning. I normally never ever show any expression of disappointment on my face. But this time my face fell. Customer service was saying a lot of things.... one thing caught my attention - "You could get to New York by mid night but there is no connecting flight till morning" - "Wait , wait" , I say instinctively. I have no clue how my mind pulls these things off. I continue "If you get me to New York by mid night, I can probably catch a train to Philly". I have never caught a train or traveled by Amtrak ever before. But I know that trains are big on the east coast. God Bless!

Thus started my adventurous night.

7:30 PM
I am confused when I saw my boarding pass. Ok, it was Newark not New York. To my desi ear both sound the same. Well, this certainly looked like one of those times where everything that could go wrong actually goes wrong. But Newark is still very much each coast and I was betting that the train service would say my day - err, my night.

I tried my best to get information about the train service at Newark airport. The helpful customer service told me that there was some "air train". Cool. I asked her, "Is there a internet booth anywhere in my terminal?". She gave some vague clues. To my bad luck that place had discontinued operations. I tried to phish off the wireless by staying close to the President's club area. But all to no avail. With 15 minutes to take off I still had no way of knowing if there was any train service at night at the Newark airport. Cool! SNAFU. I suddenly felt relaxed. There was nothing more to be done, except having good food. The night certainly promised to be long and I would need every ounce of strength I got. Fatigue was already setting in. I had woken by at 6 AM that morning.

8.40 PM
Just as I was about to board, I had this idea of talking to the Newark airport operations .
"Is it the Newark airport. Is there any air train facility"
"We are the ground transportation" - some chinku voice tells me. My heart sinks yet again.
"Do you know of any air train at your airport" (You work at the airport afterall and you gotta have seen the train at somepoint you moron!)
"We the ground transpo taation" the voice insists again in broken english.
It is pointless trying to carry out a conversation with chinkus in english. They jus dont getit.

"Trying to catch the airtrain and save some money!" - A pleasant female voice inquires. Where did that come from?! There was the good looking blonde woman in professional attire standing a few places in front of me. She quickly tells me how I can save 100 bucks by using airtrain to get to downtown Manhattan by catching the airtrain instead of a cab. Good Lord. Somebody had some common sense finally. So, there is the airtrain after all and it runs at night.

12:55 AM
Newark airport was freezing cold. I ask my way around to the shuttle station. The shuttle would take me to the airtrain terminal. After a few more hiccups, I reach the airtrain terminal. I am 150 miles from Philadelphia. My interview is at 9 AM. I haven't slept for 18 hours.

1:15 AM
I finally reach the airtrain station. I try getting tickets to Philly. No luck. The automated ticket vending machine did not recognize that destination. I ask the attendant (who happens to be a Black guy) how to get to Philly. He says that I can't get to Philly. Thankfully a Hispanic guy there overhears me. And he quickly rattles off:
"Take the 2:05 airtrain to NewYork Penn Station.
Catch the 3.20 AM Amtrak train to Philly.
You will get there by 4.30 AM"
Someone did know their stuff! More importantly somehow coincidentally that someone was around to help me at 1.15 AM on a cold freezing night.

I walk down the stairs to the waiting area. I see the list of stations - Newark Airport, Newark Penn Station, NewYork Penn Station,...." . Again the Newark - NewYork confusion. I know I cannot afford yet another snafu. I walk back up the stairs in the freezing cold one more time.

Thankfully the Hispanic guy is still there. I am like - dude are u a Cuban illegal immigrant working ur butt off to send money to ur family back home. I say aloud - "Is it Newark Penn or Neuwwww Yorrkkkk Penn ?" As best as I could. He clarifies quickly - The next station, Newark Penn, you will get there in 5 minutes. Awesome, God Bless.

I go back to the waiting area. I dont want to bore anyone by saying I walked in the cold for the third freaking time. Agony of a twice told tale is punishment enough.

I struggle to stay awake. There was some company. A white woman, a black man and soon a desi uncle joins us. We certainly did take care of the diversity quota that night.

2.05 AM.
The train hadn't arrived. After a few nerve racking minutes the electronic sign which said, Newark Penn Station 2:05 mysteriously disappeared. It was replaced by Trenton 4:20 AM. Great!
But fortunately the train arrives a few minutes late. I was surprised by how many people were actually inside the train!
I was unusually alert, despite every muscle fiber in my body clamouring for sleep.
Exhaustion was setting in.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Action Inaction

Sometimes, there is no point in thinking things through. No point in endless contemplation. You just go ahead, bite the bullet and just get it done. I put some pink paint on one of my boxers and mailed it off to the pink chaddi campaign! Lol.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What she said

OK, firstly I got a 5-in-one printer for 100 bucks, thanks to Circuit City going bust! Yay! Traveled to Philly and bombed an interview. Good and not so good. At least I knew what to make out of these - but what she said, well, that was quite something...

"You are trying hard to impress your superiors at work. It really doesn't matter. The decision has been made. They know you are good. There is no point in killing yourself over it." --- Not quite but tantalizingly close.

"I see tightness. There is some restlessness in you. You will soon be able to relax." --- Good God!

"I see a brother, or someone like a brother trying to come over here." --- Hmm my bro-in-law might pay me a visit.

"I see your mom coming up. In connection with some girl. Its not a big deal." --- Ya she's been nagging me. And ya, its not a big deal.

"There are "people" trying to reach out. They feel strongly about you. You need to trust them and let them help you." --- Hmm, where did that come from? And she didn't quite use the word "people".

"You are surrounded by people. Yet, you feel a certain abandon. You need to open up. Perhaps you will write. People will like it, even if they are not in the circle close to you." ---- This could be said of almost anyone, no ?!

"I see a big red heart" --- Ya, it is right underneath my sternum.

"You have had a near death experience. It just comes up." --- Now, now, this is getting a little spooky.

"You wrote books. I see you dipping bird feather in ink and writing away on parchment paper." --- Oh really! Thats kinda cool.

"You will confide in somebody." --- Well, now you know what I meant. I really don't know what to make of what she said.

Lesson - Don't bump into random psychic chicks in bars. Or bump into them anyway, just that you won't know what to make of what they say.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bits and pieces

I never imagined that junk food and diet coke is a recipe for poetry (uh huh ...if you can call it that). I had gone to pick my friend up from the airport and I was talking a bit too much. And griped that I find a lot of people irritating. She promptly replied that she finds me irritating as well. Fair enough. But that somehow struck a chord...or perhaps it was the above mentioned junk food and coke. Anyhow, out came some Keats style romantic crap....(I do need to get back and finish this)
(if you do read this, read this out loud with the pauses in the right places as indicated :-) )

Ice Princess

Talking king 's/ what I am /my Ice princess,
Talk'd too much /sure I did /Ice princess,
Listen to me /but will who /Ice princess,
Like you did /listen to me /my Ice princess

In the dark /starry skies /O Ice princess,
In the deep /stormy seas /O Ice princess,
In the high /mountain peaks /O Ice princess,
I see your /perfect face /dear Ice princess

You were /an illusion /my Ice princess,
Were you but /in flesh and blood /Ice princess,
Love you for /'ever I will /dear Ice princess

In my dull /boring life /Ice princess,
You were /a lighting bolt /Ice princess,
Gone in /an eye-lid flash /Ice princess,
Memories /are all I got /my Ice princess

Eyes you had /full of love /Ice princess,
Thorns in path /many u saw /O Ice princess,
Heart you had /cold as gold /Ice princess,
Off you went /with no tears /my Ice princess

Defenseless /in love was I /O Ice princess,
Heart I did /lose for sure /Ice princess,
Soul I did /give with love /my Ice princess,
Joy /was the hurt I felt /dear Ice princess

Dancing queen 's /what you were /my Ice princess,
Much too much /moves you had /Ice princess,
Amazed by you /will be who/O Ice princess,
Amazed by 'ur /grace like me /my Ice princess

Words /are /all
I have /for /u
My /Ice /princess

(depending on how you want it to end)

Words that /don't count for sure /my Ice princess,
One question /I ask of thee /my Ice princess,
If I die /this moment /my Ice princess
A tear will u /shed for me /my Ice princess?

*sniff sniff sniff*


Write I do /crap for sure /Ice princess
Damn I don't /give for you /Ice princess
Words are /but words only /Ice princess
Craze I do /feel for none /dumb Ice princess!

*ha ha ha*
You and Me (To be written)
God is Great (To be written)
Desi Dhal Makhani (To be written)

Friday, January 2, 2009

As it happens

"Yes, we had to let people go. But, we value you. We want you to take on more responsibilities"... It happened so fast. Just like that nearly half my team was gone. I had survived. We design chips for digital cameras. I am pretty good at it.

But it did throw me off guard. I had been living a rather idyllic life. Today morning I was annoyed that I wasn't able to get a page counter setup. In hindsight I was bitching about something trivial when people were asked to go home. I had kissed enough asses to keep myself safe.

Evening, I went to the ocean front. I was still preoccupied. Some of those laid off had families. On H1B one has no security. I wonder why anyone should work like me. As for me, I would get my green card in a couple of months. Not that I am ecstatic about it. Just offers a person a greater security. The caress of the easterly wind was rather soothing. Brought memories of the beach back home.

Mom loved the beach. She always said she could stay there forever looking at the waves. An involuntary lump forms in my throat. Have I been a good son? I have left my aging parents back home. In pursuit of what? Has it been worth it? I have worked my butt off, my paycheck makes me smile. But deep down a longing persists.

Still feeling rather heavy, I go to the Blockbuster. I quickly blow 15 bucks on three movies I had always wanted to see - "Pursuit of Happyness", "Bucket List" and the "Dark Knight".

"Help a stranger for common good" - How appropriate. Checking my email, I found that someone did try to help me setup the page counter. It lightened my mood. And she was really sweet. :-) I suddenly feel all the more cheesy for all my solicitations on random blogs to leave me comments. If someone wants to leave me a note they will. I also shut down my wordpress blog. Two blogs are like two wives. I realize that it is enough if I write what I want to write.

If I were to add to the bucket list I would add - "Make those who love you, feel loved". Will I ever truly fulfill that?

I don't let up after the Bucket List. Will Smith's kid in "Pursuit of Happyness" reminds me how much I love kids. One day I will have a daughter. But...not yet. not yet. I need to finish my pursuit. I always thought that term Coelho(personal legend) uses was cheesy while reading the Alchemist. May be it is just our difficulty in acknowledging its existence that is cheesy. Somewhere in the middle of watching Will Smith struggle, a vision of my pursuit crystallizes.....and it is not here in this land. Not between the Pacific and the Atlantic. It will be back there in the peninsula. The only place I can truly call home.

This means I have to continue being a bad son for a while more.... even if I am running short of excuses to avoid marriage ;-)