Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I live by myself and I didn't have any special plans for Thanksgiving. One of my colleagues said “It’s a crime to be alone in USA during Thanksgiving” and this made me think about this Turkey day. If you Google about thanksgiving you will get tons of pages stating its history, importance and how the turkey came into picture. I would like to tell what it means to me.

Coming from half the world around, I never celebrated thanksgiving until four years back. So after coming to the US, thanksgiving was just another long weekend for me. Apparently all US holidays precede or succeed the weekend and hence giving a long weekend. Thanksgiving coupled with Black Friday gives four days off and hence a good time to travel and shop. First couple years I was in Michigan doing my masters. The university had to schedule final exams just after thanksgiving and hence we spent time studying. The next year two years I was in California. This means 24x7 sunny weather and hence four days of total enjoyment. I went biking, hiking, camping and all sorts of other outdoor activities coupled with lots of shopping. This year I am in Boston. Temperatures are negative, my Arduino is not working and hence I have no other option but to sit home and write this blog post!!

So when I think about thanksgiving and Christmas I realize this period is the time when people spend time with their families. I have observed people visiting there wife/ girlfriend side families during thanksgiving and husband/ boyfriend side families during Christmas. We never felt a need of special occasions to visit families as back home we stay with our families pretty much all year. And hence, today when all my colleagues are taking an entire week off to meet their families, I miss mine a lot.

But this is a special time frame for every Indian. Its November.. Meaning one month away from taking a long vacation to visit home. (Generally people like me try to take time off once every year to visit India and this time frame is generally December). Christmas, to me, is nothing but dreaming about what I will be doing at home after couple days and this dreaming begins at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving shopping is dedicated to all the siblings, grand/ parents and cousins back homeJ. The month of December here is generally slow paced, festive month. But for me, it’s fast paced, a month of making plans to spend time with my loved ones and live all those moments that I missed within last year. It’s the time to dream about asking Mom to make the food I like, giving her hard time as she did not look after my Activa, stealing Dad’s car and roaming on the streets of the city, meeting old school friends and reviving the golden moments, having “appachi khichadi”, “nana kadcha chaha”, “durga chi coffee” and “vaishali cha dosa”. It’s dreaming about “Sinhagad”, “Khadakwasla”, “MIT chi Tekdi”, sitting on two-wheelers and chit chatting late night in the parking lots of my apartment and all those Pune specific exciting things that I will be living in a short while.  And..oh yeah.. and its also about teasing friends who recently had their trips to India and will be staying back during Christmas! J
                                                                                             (taken from Google Image search)

So.. Happy thanksgiving everyone… “houde kharcha” J

Monday, September 2, 2013

The land of MIT and Harvard

It’s been close to three months that I relocated to Boston to explore a different job opportunity and this city is already doing great in giving me all sorts of life experiences. I have spent couple years in Midwest (Michigan), couple on the west coast (Silicon Valley) and now it’s the time for east coast adventures in the city of MIT and Harvard.

I moved to Boston in summer so the transition to the coming horrible winter after a sunny honeymoon in California will be smooth. So I am good on that front. But I was then used to Californian style of driving! Now I have become an aggressive driver to adapt to the Bostonians! Here the state road infrastructure is radial (Boston being the center) and not a simple grid as in the west. This means more curvy roads, more randomness and hence more excitement in driving without a GPS. For the person who loves driving, Boston is the place. Further there are many potholes, thanks to snow. I sometimes feel that development of the west is like “learning from mistakes” of the east. Here you honk to express your anger (and you get angry quite often), you do not wait for pedestrians if they are about to cross. Lane width is smaller, many places there are no lanes and you have to use your Indian judgment to drive through. Some places, four lanes merge into two without any prior indication and hence you need to be alert and ready for traffic congestion. And most importantly.. too many women drivers here!!!

Am getting used to this now. My colleague from Tesla (who was in Boston for last few years) had told me to be prepared for at least one dent in the beginning couple months in Boston! .. well he was right! J

Now that I am living here (and not a tourist as I was a couple years back), I get to see many aspects of Bostonian lifestyle. People are more welcoming here. They are social and more family oriented that the west coast counterparts. They are more attached to the American history. I see people from various backgrounds like engineering, medical, advocacy, economics, social service etc etc (and not only Indian software engineers). I like this variety. I can see many more people who are staying in this area for multiple generations so they have their own quirks. (Unlike in California, where you rarely see any core Californian). To give an appealing example is how a core Puneri will behave in Pune! (dukanat sarvat durlakshya karnyasarkhi goshta mhanje girahik) ;)

I live in a big 7 bedroom house with seven random people. We share the kitchen. New people come and go and bring a different lifestyle with them. Currently there is on guy from Saudi Arabia, one from Iran, US, India, Czech Republic etc. These are engineers, economists, founders of startups, serial entrepreneurs, media journalists, academicians. I feel really fortunate to experience the interaction with them. There is so much to learn beyond if, for and while loops which I code daily. My friend from Iran has travelled a lot. He shares tons of stories from various nations like in EU, Aus, Middle East etc. The journalist is up to date with all the current affairs throughout the world. I can discuss my current Indian economic situation with the economist in the house.

The area is surrounded with schools like MIT, Harvard, Tufts (Fletcher), North Eastern universities. Great talent of students in the areas of technology, science, business, medical etc is around. (well pan punyat rahun shanivar wada ajun pahila nahi.. ase hi loka astat! ). Boston has too many things to offer. I participated in a midnight bike (cycle) ride around Boston. This was a 30ish mile ride from 12am- 7am finishing on an island with the sun rising in front of us. It was just amazing to ride at night, visit places that you will never go on a bike, see some bike tricks, give high fives to drunk girls on the road at the time when bars start to close, see the people who honk in a rhythm to cheer a crazy group of 50 riding at 3am in midnight. People are enough crazy to do weird things. There was one guy who rode most of the miles just on his rear wheel. There was one person who had speakers, music and disco lights on this bike. Riding besides his was fun!! 

Samuel Adams come from Boston. The brewery here offers a free tour and totally free bear tasting.. how about that!! There is something called as a "freedom trail". It is a bricked path from the heart of the city which pretty much goes through all the important historical landmarks that the city has to offer. The more interesting part is that there is a series of couple minute audio files about each location on the web that you can download on your cell phone and do the entire trail by yourself. This is a best way to get closer to the city, get to know what the city has to offer you. I am very impressed by this idea to promote tourism and American history and culture. Walking, biking and using the "T" has brought be closer to the city.

I am not sure how lively the city will be during the white months. But, there is still some time for that. Before that, after almost two long years, I will be experiencing something that no one in California can ever experience!! :)

A weather change from summer to fall!  Looking forward for fall!