an existential crisis | graduation blues

The seconds dial is slowly ticking away as the table clock on the heavy textbook besides my deflated air bed emanates a tiny beep as soon as it’s twelve; heralding the final countdown for graduation. {My last exam is on Dc17 and in the America system of education once your exams are done irrespective of your grade unless it’s an ‘F’ ; you have completed college }
Hmmm… graduation ! damnit ! GRADUATION ! shrieks a perplexed voice in some remote corner of grey punching bag.ok ! Graduation big deal ! Been there..seen that ! [B.Tech anyone ?]
Masters…I become  reminiscent.

I rewind the memory clock back to  Wednesday, 14jn07  {also happens to be Saee K’s Birthday 😀 } when the officer at the Chennai consulate pronounced me a potential summa cum laude material and issued me an  f1 Visa. Seriously, I didn’t feel euphoric at all. In fact I was more sad about missing out the opportunity to work at Wipro after an awesome performance on the interview; and on the lost opportunity to ‘better know’ a girl I’d met while waiting on line during the blood pressure/height/weight – measurements at Care Hospital for the Wipro sponsored pre-employment medical examination.
So ok. I got the Visa. Attended those pre-university departure meets at eat street (more to check out if any ammailu were coming to my university rather than to socialize with the other students.) Followed those big shopping lists on how many pairs of under wears and socks to carry; bought three big cases at palem leather in Panjagutta [:) I loove Panjagutta] which would be my traveling closets for the rest of my bachelorhood life in the American wilderness; weighed myself and my bags; bought those big kickass boots from woodland {dunno why everyone from our part of the country gets those to US because they don’t serve any practical purpose except to kick someone in the butt during birthday parties}; bought a denim/leather jacket {thick according to Indian standards, anorexic according to America standards}; shopped for steel utensils at sultan bazar like a newly married housewife; made those 100 odd rounds around Chilkur Balaji Temple; Tonsured my head on the 7 hills; revamped my closet with all branded and designer wear including a shining new pair of black Nikes. yay ! And the best part : my folks would never say NO to any expense. After all their prodigal son had got an admit to NYU with a scholarship !  How many students from Visu’s Panjagutta branch could achieve something on this scale after paying a 30,000 rupees fee for GRE prep classes. The neighboring uncles and aunties  ooha-ed and eeha-ed. The teens would flock to me asking me if I felt excited on going to THE New York. The wannabe’s would ask me for expert advice on the whole how-to-kickass-in-GRE-to-get-a-1200-score-so-that-I-too-can-get-an-admit-in-a-thope-university-like-ur’s.  Prospective brides appeared on the horizon.
At one of the pre-departure events met the roommates to be. It was Serendipity at it’s best. All of us had committed to someone else to room with ; but it dint’ workout so we found each other and the awesome part was that three of us were in the same MS Engineering stream. Kickass. So Me and Andy landed in New Jersey on 19Ag07. As to why we landed in New Jersey and not in New York as promised by Air India when they made us pay forty grand for a back seat in the economy class is an another story.
19Ag also happened to be Andy’s Birthday. He celebrated it in India. In mid air over Paris. In USA. Tell me unless you are a celebrity like Hugh Heffner  or someone, who has a Birthday like this ?
The other two roomies : Ad and Styli arrived on 20Ag at JFK (a less eventful/eventless tale, unlike ours.) Ok so we had many of those ‘Welcome to America Moments’ like when we would stare incessantly at couples kissing in the parks/in class/while waiting in  lines/in laundromats etc. The initial $1 = current value of Indian Rupee phobia (CVIRP) took some time to get over [until we got our credit cards that is 😀 ]. And we made a few startling discoveries like there is less cheese and more beef in a cheese burger; the coffee in the cafeteria/deli/star bucks tastes the same, only star bucks has better coffee cups and ambiance; 123onlinemoviesdtcom for any new Telugu and Hindi movie cam prints with the theater audience included for the complete Indian movie experience; Boston Kream donut is manna from heaven; Chicken teryaki sandwich at the subway tastes best with southwest chipotle sauce; Mc’Donalds makes the best strawberry milkshakes; pepperoni is pork not pepper and onions; Corona extra is the enlightening juice and no marlboro can ever trump a gold flake.
So the first semester was a breeze with all the right grades and the three of us living up to the ‘Made in Andhra’ student tag. We collaborated on assignments’; we helped out each other during exam prep; we sat in last benches; played stick cricket during power point lecture presentations; munched on greasy French fries dipped in mayonnaise and ketchup in the middle of an in-class group discussion; confused lecturers with all of us having similar answers on any given home work. But a GPA of 4/4 redeemed us all. I had never performed so great, not even in my kindergarten !
Had the best Birthday party of my life. You know its like one of those magical nights when you are  on top of the world, high and smug and happiness and everything in the world is seems and feels achievable and doable. You feel like a Jedi knight. I tried moving a pen across a table with just a wave of my hand; I’m not sure if I imagined it or not but I think I saw the pen fly across. The birthday was also special for many more reasons.
Fall 2007 was over with a thundering bang with an Orkut album on the-first-snow-fall-in-my-life-oh-god-it’s-so-awesome in-between; followed by a body crushing experience at the Ball Drop 2008.
Spring came. New Friends.New Students.New Job. More Parties. More pictures.More Orkut albums. New professors. Old antics. Bad grades. Earned less. Paid even more dues.The Simpsons.
Summer 2008. One course. Loads of time. Movies. Cartoons. Sleep. Food. Weight. No job. No internship. employment hunt. Exploring NY. Heroes NBC. India Trip.
Fall 2008. New Students. Newer friends. Less parties. More personal problems. More Solitude. Receding American Economy. Freezes on New Hiring. Suited and booted for career fairs.Uncertain grades. Southpark. More Stick cricket in class.  Obama. Deepanjali. NY Nov 21. Mumbai Nov 26.
In a way Masters was way more remarkable than my under-grad. The experiences of the past one year have left me bedazzled. And I can vouch that I’ve had more fun in this period than the four years spent in B.Tech (leaving aside M’06 that is.)
And as the time inches closer a feeling of despair and confusion engulfs me making me wish that Masters would last a little bit longer [getting an F to continue the course is always an viable option 😀 or that PhD. in career management]
Why do I not want to leave college ? Because I am someone here. I have an identity here. People respect ma authoritah [:P]  as that goofy guy who sits at the librarian’s seat and refuses eye contact. Outside college in the wilderness of the American job market I have an identity crisis. I have to dance according to the whims and fantasies of my employer. I’m reminded of Aamir Khan’s lines from RDB “ college ke gates ke is par hum zindagi ko nachathe hai; aur collge ke gates ke us par zindagi hume nachathi hai.” how true. I will miss my my seat at the library. All the good times, the great memories I’ve  had at the workplace- dusting books; refilling the paper in the printer; watching heroes etc . Will the library miss me ? like the line in that poem goes :
“… men may come and men may go but I go on for ever.”
My Guyanese-American landlord and the entire room were having a discussion on how things/we had changed over the past one year. As a parting advice he told us,
“ I’ve seen you guys adapt to the American way of life beautifully. But don’t let America change you. Deep down you are and till your last breath will always be Indian no matter how many years you spend in this country. Keep your head held firm and upright and don’t forget the moral and manners imbibed in you by your parents. It is your Indian-ness that makes you unique. Never be ashamed of that. You are men of great potential. The world is yours to take.carpe diem.”
In the coming weeks : change of places; the roommates will move, each  seeking his destiny and his part of the American dream ; the unnecessary stuff will be disposed; pictures will be taken and good byes will be said; drinks will be drowned in anticipation of future merrier times; and in the end – the love you take – is equal to the love you make.
The Grad walk is in the month of May. I will be waving, smiling, posing for pictures, throwing the hat in to the air etc. The smiles will be there, but the purpose?  The same confusion that precluded my path before the start of the Masters program is returning to me now. Masters over what next ? Job-H1-Car-House- wife ? I yearn to be different. Yet I have an inability of sorts to see the bigger purpose of existence. The many hours spent in solitude and deep soul searching haven’t turned up any concrete answers so I guess I just have to keep looking.
 The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
“May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall softly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
– One Love Brother…One Love. Peace. V

16 thoughts on “an existential crisis | graduation blues

  1. nostalgic!! prompted me to think of paying a visit to MGIT tomorrow… cheese burger has more beef dan cheese..hmm..dats something!! ur frnd’s budday id truely remarkable.. 😀 …all in all comprehensive and truely entertaining post…

  2. All the best buddy …best is in store for you so always look forward 🙂 and enjoy life being the usual ‘Mr. Charming Witty And Dynamic ‘ !! 🙂

  3. “Yet I have an inability of sorts to see the bigger purpose of existence.”This should describe everything…the words of the landlord reminded me the golden word that Trivikram Srinivas Rao made Venki tell in Nuvvu Naaku Nacchav to Aarthi Agarwal…rewound all the days and felt nostalgic…Good luck in your future endeavors and don’t forget to keep us updated…good luck and cheers…

  4. A really nice post… this felt more comfortable, reminded me about the sid posts i read during M06. Not only the writing and content and this being yet ‘another blog post’ (YABP), but this one was too good. Felt good reading this. Reminded me of the good oldays of apna MGIT. Of M’06. Well… let me go yuor way – Sid. Peace. Love. V.All the very best bro!

  5. Seems like orkut is flowing in your blood… “People respect ma authoritah [:P] as that goofy guy who..”Why is the emoticon having those brackets?!

  6. Hey Sid..I’m impressed with your writing did a good job recounting your MS life in a single page..I feel like writing too :D..I guess I’ll keep visiting your blog often 🙂

  7. Yes, all of us have to tread the same path sceptically with out any knowledge of what the future holds for us.Its like jumping into a well with no knowledge of it having water/a hard bottom /or you may even come out of the other side of the earth ;).But trust me it makes up a nice adventure to turn back and laugh about how serious we took things and how stupid we were.GOOD post had fun reading it.

  8. After a long time I liked a post. This might motivate me to read another one ;;)I didn’t at allllllllll mind this one being long cuz it was not boring basically

  9. coool post ..dude. Reminded me of my own journey.Enuf wit to read it again. somehow..I became very nostalgic..I could quote many..i like thisMasters over what next ? Job-H1-Car-House- Desi wife ? I yearn to be different. Yet I have an inability of sorts to see the bigger purpose of existence. The many hours spent in solitude and deep soul searching haven’t turned up any concrete answers so I guess I just have to keep looking.

  10. haha.. good one!! but i am in not feeling a single bit of it right now:(.. I jus want to get out d univ.. can't see all ur bff leave the place n thn u get to stay alone..n ur landlord is soo sweet… nice of him to tell so! n thn abt the being typical part… may b u should marry a non-desi gal :P.. or may b u should do ur PhD..(thn again u can get to watch all the stupid serials n movies :D)

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