Non Resident Alien

This is a chronicle of my tragi-comic life as a foreigner in the United States. My official status when I started school in 2004, was that of a Non-Resident-Alien and that's where the title of the blog is from. My status has changed to Resident Alien since then. My personal experiences are a unique roller coaster mundane everyday experiences for locals, but unique from the eyes of a foreigner. I started this blog to share some of my experiences beginning my third year living in this country.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Did he deserve this?

I read about Saddam Hussein's execution this morning. I have not held opinions on the death penalty but somehow this makes me feel sad. It seems as if the US government is taking a high and mighty stance and imposing their morals and such on the rest of the world. I am not defending what Saddam did when he was alive, but for the US government to say that they do not wish to interfere in the politics of another country while at the same time being responsible for Saddam's capital punishment seems like double standards to me. I have tried to keep away from political discussions most of my life; however, sometimes US policies and attitudes just make me feel sad for everyone in the world. Look at what has happened in Afghanistan. The Taliban are back and on the streets again. It seems as if imperialism is back in a different garb.
Back to Saddam. He may have been a tyrant and treated his citizens badly. What gives others the right to judge his actions? Are Iraqis so stupid that they cannot make such judgements? Every nation wants to preserve its own culture and religious beliefs against threats, and it is in the nature of the ruler of the nation to do what it takes to do so. By the same rules of Public Choice a dictator will do all he can to keep his power. The difference would be that in a democracy it is done covertly and dictators do it overtly and by using force. If democracy is all about not using force, how is Saddam's capture, trial and ultimate execution not use of force?

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New England Gangsta

This is a hilarious commercial from Smirnoff. Enjoi!!

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The not so Good Shepherd

I should just have followed Ebert's advice. The Good Shepherd is very dull. The plot is not intriguing and there is nothing unexpected or gripping about the drama in the movie. Its just another sorry story about a guy who could not spend enough time with his wife and son. If it was meant to glorify the CIA it failed miserably, quite the contrary it makes you distrust the government and covert activities even more. Over two hours of wasted time. If you are thinking about seeing it, please save your money and time for something that is better.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Order of the Phoenix


I eagerly await the release of this movie and the last book in the series. Ms.Rowling how much longer will the suspense be? I have read the other book several times to find out all the minute details that may suggest that Dumbledore is not dead, and am pleased to say that I have several indications from the earlier books that suggest that he may not be dead after all. Ms.Rowling seems to be heavily influenced by Tolkein. If that is true and any indication then just as Gandalf came back in the last book of the Lord of the Rings, I believe Dumbledore will come back as well. For now July 13th is already marked in my calendar for this movie.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas everyone!!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

The busiest days this year

This past couple of weeks have been the busiest week for me this whole year. In addition to preparing for my prelims, I went to the movies, hung out with several groups of friends and hosted two mini parties at home. Phew! If this is what holiday is like I do not want to know what semester will be like. Its been raining incessantly all day today. Alexander left for Germany this afternoon and I bossed Brian around the whole afternoon into giving Alexander a ride to wherever he needed to be. These are times I wish I had a car. I hate asking people for favours. Once my prelims are over I will have time to investigate the car market and purchase a decent car.
Ali also left for Pakistan today. He had been up the past couple of nights and woke up late this morning. If his flight had been on time he would have missed it by a huge margin. He was lucky in some ways that this flight was delayed.
Have been with people too much that I do not want to see anybody the next few days. I get my wish after tomorrow. Have a few more obligations tomorrow, after which if I choose I don't have to see another soul till Wednesday, and I am looking forward to my quiet time in which to reflect the events of the most eventful year of my life yet. More on that in my year end post a week or so from now.
For now its blissful sleep time.

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The Pursuit of Happyness

If you want to pursue your own happyness, stay away from this movie. Although Will Smith's action is brilliant, the movie does not deserve you spending $7 and 2 hours at the theatre. Wait till the DVD gets out and rent it on netflix or blockbuster which will cost you much less money and effort, and even when you do rent it, see it only when you are so bored and have nothing else to do except watch a sad movie with a predictable ending, with a couple of funny lines, which you will see if you watch the previews anyway.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My City is on Gogle Maps now!!

Hyderabad is on google maps. I think I could even locate my home in the Hybrid mode. Look for National Geophysical Research Institute. Once you find it, zoom in slightly and look for the Water Tank below it. Zoom closer, and look for a bigger looking road going straight down from top to bottom of the page. Roughly across the road from the water tank (to the left of the screen) is where my home is. Hurray for Google!! Hurray for Hyderabad. Thanks for the tip KP.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Mistaken Identity

Marek sent me this funny email yesterday. (Emphasis mine)

Hey Triya,

I hope you do well. I just wanted to share some funny moment. While I am still studying for my last exam, I've had very interesting conversation with a good looking girl on Skype. I had to laugh hard.

[8:34:12 PM] Ashleigh Underwood says: are you there marek?

[8:34:44 PM] Marek Zapletal says: Yes, I am. Who are you?

[8:34:57 PM] Ashleigh Underwood says: are you the marek that used to live in Washington DC?

[8:35:15 PM] Marek Zapletal says: Yes.

[8:35:25 PM] Ashleigh Underwood says: do you not know who this is?

[8:35:26 PM] Marek Zapletal says: How do you know that?

[8:35:34 PM] Ashleigh Underwood says: I used to date you....


And then we found out that he was another Marek Zapletal from the Czech Republic. Sometimes funny things happen. ;)

Marek

What are the chances of something similar happening to me? Right now I would say next to none, if I used my full name. I believe my name to be pretty unique (sign of how vain I am !!) Atleast, no guy is gonna chat with me on the internet, me having no clue about who he is, and say hey I used to date you!! :) Advice for you Marek!! If she is good looking and the other Marek is not dating her, why shouldn't YOU go on and ask her out?

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tamizh Rap!!

Lacchu sent me this video a few days back. For those that do not know. The Tamizh song is a well known one from a movie and this group has added the rap to it. Their Tamizh is horrible, the worst pronunciation ever. I do not know if its intentional.

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Sunday Morning Blues

It is funny that on the days you have a 9 am class you never seem to wake up before 8:45, but on a sunday during winter vacation you are up bright and early even before the sun is up depite just a couple of hours of sleep. Have been up since 5 this morning moping around the house finding stuff to do. There's lots to do but am just too lazy I suppose. I was channel surfing on TV and there is not one interesting program sunday morning. Its so different from sunday morning programs back home. The good old Rangeela days. Whatever happened to the days of Glo friends and My little pony!! I guess the difference is when we were kids we were allowed to watch TV only on sundays and so most of the nice kids programming was on sunday mornings. These days kids are glued to the TV, besides American kids have all kinds of other things to do such as Videogames. In addition, the 80s were the days of one or two tv channels. Now there are millions of them, and I wouldn't even know which channel to look for.


I just thought I would do a youtube search, and VIOLA!! Here's the Theme from Glo friends!! It is rated Y now that I see it with adult eyes, seems a little corny!!

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Friday, December 15, 2006

What better way to start the day


I just found out that I got an A+ in Gordon Tullock's class, and A- in Wagner's class. An elating end to a very turbulent semester. This will certainly pull my GPA out of the low 3.0s to atleast a mid 3.0s. Levy's results are not out yet, I hope to get atleast a B+ in his class which is not too bad.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Season of Lights

All my semester commitments are over now, and to celebrate it we put up the Christmas Tree and lights in my house this evening. I invited Noah, Cousin John, Alexander and Brian. It was just fantastic. Earlier in the evening, Alexander and I went around my neighbourhood taking pictures and videos of houses with beautiful lights. Here's the Holiday Express!!
One of the more modestly lit houses
Here are pictures from when we put up the Christmas tree and lights in my house. Alexander is amused and confused about a Christmas tree that comes out of a box.
The tree begins to take shape.
We want to climb the tree say the boys!! I also want to hang onto my Soda says Alexander!!
Quite the angels of the night!!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Exhaustion nd homesickness

I am done with my semester commitments. I have barely slept or eaten in about 10 days, have lost close to 10 pounds, worked through the night several nights in a row, abused my already injured back and am exhausted. Yesterday was the crucial day. I had two papers, one end term exam and one Presentation all due at 1:00pm and I was so flustered that I was rude to everyone who called me. I did imagine that I would sleep like a log since the adrenalin rush was over and I had nothing more to be anxious about, but I was mistaken. I lay awake all night, counting sheep, reading books, watching TV, movies, serials all in some random order trying to sleep. Finally dozed fitfully between 7am and 8am. Phew! This semester has been extremely exhausting, and I barely did anything. I hope I get to sleep today atleast. Spent some time today catching up with old friends from back home and talking to them at length. Life is a little tough right now, and I am trying to expand my mind by doing things I used to always enjoy doing such as singing, listening to music, reading Enid Blyton novels.

I guess this is a pattern most international students go through. At some point there is a disconnect between life here and life back home and everything else comes to a grinding halt until things are sorted out again. I am blessed to have a network of friends spanning the globe, and an amazing family who are helping me get through this phase in life. Someday I will reminisce about this period and have fond memories of everyone who pitched in to help. Thanks guys!!

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

My School has a website

I just found out that my old school has a website. I was there for more than a decade, and know the Founder, principal and several teachers personally. It makes me very nostalgic thinking about that place and the people. They have however committed the ultimate faux-pas. Not only have they spelled my name incorrectly, they have also stated me as being a journalist. To those of you who know me only recently, that is what I wanted to be when I left school and decided to do my BA in English Literature. Little did I think that I would have a research career in Economics in the USA :) I am very happy to see my old school flourishing. Check out their website, and look for my mis-spelt name and profession in the Alumni section. (Do not be misled by the 27 names in the section. Many 100s graduated from our school) Great Job VVMHSS!!

Last three days of the semester

Well! My semester officially ends on tuesday. Ideally I must be rejoicing for its more than a month's vacation; however, school holidays do not mean what they used to when I was younger. In some ways I am excited because this will be time away from classes and people and I think I need a bit of quiet in my life. It gives me the time to think about my research which I have been putting off all this while cause of the pressure of classes and grades. This semester has in many ways been one of the easier semesters for me and one that I have screwed up somewhat also for several reasons. It has been easier, because all the subjects I had were stuff I loved and I screwed up because I could have done so much better.

This semester has been the most difficult emotionally and my family will attest to it. If not for them I may have dropped out long back in August. It has been a time consuming semester, cause I was taking the bus and several times I have waited close to an hour for the bus and that has been frustrating. But I have resolved not to buy a car until my finances are in order, and they are just about limping back to normalty. Its funny how one delayed payment added to a pay cut to half of earlier paychecks sets you back so much financially. Not to say added on to it were personal unexpected expenses such as trips, and emergency room visits. I just got my ER bill. Its close to $1000. Even if my insurance company pays 70% of it I will have to dish out $300, which still drills a bigger hole in my pocket. Nevertheless, I am glad I am healthy now and that its not any more than that.

The next semester should be fun as well. I wish the University would pay for four courses. If all goes well in January, I will get my Masters degree in May/June, and that I guess will feel good. I am looking forward to the holidays to finish some of my personal stuff like getting back in touch with my old buddies from school and college. I also need to work on a few papers, especially my Katrina project paper which was due two weeks ago.

For today and the next two days its Levy's paper, his exam and presentation, and Wagner's paper.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Voice in the movies and Cartoons!!

Ever wondered who the guy is behind the voice in movie trailers? Recently GEICO introduced some ads with famous personalities, and one of them was the 'movie announcer guy' I have been looking for the ad for a while, and finally found it on youtube. Here is the GEICO ad and also a Good Morning America presentation about him. Enjoy!!




Continuing in the same vein. Here is Dan Castellaneta!! Doesn't he also look a bit like Homer??!! You decide

I was surprised when I found out a year or so back that Bart Simpson's voice is actually that of a gal!! Did you know that??

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Friday, December 08, 2006

First Snow this year

It was just a mild flurry around 9 last evening and it lasted just half an hour. It was still the first *Snow* this year. This is not the best time of the year to be here. I would have been daydreaming about home like Ali if only I did not have my January exam. This is the most difficult time of the year for me in this country. Its too cold for me to go out and do things, so I have to stay indoors most of the time, and we have close to five weeks off from school which is bound to drive me crazy cooped up in my house. I do have stuff to prepare and do for my January exam, projects to complete and hopefully I will be back full steam very soon. For now, I am going to enjoy the fact that it snowed yesterday, however little. The first snow is simply the best, even if is a blizzard. It has already snowed a lot in Nebraska where I used to be till August 2005. In some ways I miss being there and in others I do not, and lots of snow is one of the reasons I do not like being there. Well!! For now I am in usually warm and humid Virginia which in summer is like being in Bangalore city in summer, and it rains like it does in Hyderabad. So its home sweet home right now!! I will daydream about my true home in April!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving

My post is a week after the official Thanksgiving weekend here. I have a lot to be thankful for this year, especially during the Thanksgiving weekend. The wednesday of the break I came down with excruciating back pain which practically made me immobile. It being the long weekend all my buddies had gone home for the holidays. Ali fortunately was in town and I could call him and ask him to bring me back from the emergency room. After being bedridden for a week I am recovering slowly and Noah was extremely helpful. He cooked for me, took me to doctor visits and helped me do all my grocery shopping. It was nice to be pampered a bit. I did try to get back on my feet as soon as possible, especially since this is the end of the semester and I have papers to write and present. After more than a week today I have been up the whole day without having to take a nap to rest my back which feels good.
This year has been one of my least productive years both in terms on academics and introspection. Nevertheless it has been rich in experiences with friends who were complete strangers when I needed their help. To this day I do not know who and how many contributed to my flight ticket home in March. I am Thankful for the fellowship of friends and family and my professors who have taken every excuse of mine in stride and given me a second and third chance sometimes. I am Thankful for passing one of my prelims. I have much to thank my family for; they have seen me through the worst this year and I feel blessed.