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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


What a movie! I had no clue about the story line, although I knew it as an Oscar winning movie (Best Picture). Its a well woven tale of prejudices and stereotypes. Makes you think about your own prejudices. The best parts of the movie were not the explicit prejudices but the implicit prejudices in individuals who cringe at external and vocal prejudices, but do nothing about it. The tale is that of a diverse group of individuals who are forced to interact with each other, and how their prejudices play out. It makes one realise that very often we judge people by their stereotypes. There may be some truth to it in many cases but individuals do not always fit stereotypes. Its a wonderful story. There is some strong language; however the screenplay is tight and the acting superb. Highly recommended


Survived my second class

I am still alive after teaching my second class this semester. There's something about teaching a class that is just so exciting to me. There weren't too many questions I could not answer yesterday. I crashed and burned talking about the derivation of the Aggregate Demand curve. It was the math that blew me away for a bit. Otherwise it was a nice class. Hopefully, students are not overwhelmed by it all. Its a lot of stuff to cover in one class period.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Plain Amazing

Check this site out. Click on the little box and enjoy. Hattip: Atanu


Sunday, January 28, 2007

OP Nayyar Jan 16 1926 - Jan 28 2007

This is really sad news for atleast three generations who grew up listening to his music. To me his music always brings images of horses hooves going clippety-clop. It is strange but true. Who doesn't remember 'mera naam chin chin chu' from Howrah Bridge or Shammi Kapur's theatrics in 'Taarif karoon kya usi ki' from Kashmir Ki kali. Most of his music is peppy and fun and you cannot help yourself from tapping your feet to the rhythm. Another of his classics is 'piya..piya.. piya' from the movie Baap re Baap. There's a good bit of yodelling by Kishore Kumar (no one could yodel like him) in this song. The more recent Andaz Apna Apna needs no introduction to his music. It left the distinct impression of the 70s music of OP Nayyar. He composed melodious music and mellifluous tunes. We shall all miss you Nayyar saab!!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Being Cyrus

Bollywood seems to be maturing finally. Being Cyrus is an Indian movie made in English. Its a dark tale of family secrets and set in Mumbai within the Parsi community. Its not the traditional glamorous bollywood movie, it borders along film noir. The setting is old buildings in Mumbai with tiny apartments and filthy stairwells. The story is crisp and new and makes me wonder if it has been ripped off from some foreign movie. Bollywood's track record does not permit such distinctively new movies that are original productions. Even Rang De Basanti which I thought was a new concept has been inspired by a Canadian movie about a few young men staging a play on the life of Jesus Christ. So I will not be surprised if I find a similar movie in a different language. Inspite of that, the actors have done a great job. Saif Ali Khan proves that if he is given good roles he delivers. It is certainly not a comedy, but has a few twists you would not have expected. Highly recommended.


Ordinary People

An 80s Oscar movie. Makes you wonder why movies such as this are not made anymore. Its a beautifully woven tale of human emotions and psyche and psychiatry. It is set in a time period where it was not fashionable or polite to admit that you were in therapy. There are no superflous emotions and only four main characters around who the story evolves. The plot is dense with not a dull moment. Keeps you wondering till the end, and live with the characters. The actors are superb. It is no surprise that the movie won an Oscar. Very highly recommended.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Queen

Quite by chance we found out that this movie was playing at Fair City Mall, and went to see it. It is a good movie. Since my last two or three experiences with new movies I was a little less expectant, but The Queen does justice to all the reviews I had read about it. Helen Mirren is stellar in her role as HM Queen Elizabeth II. The plot is well laid and there is not a boring moment in the movie. Highly recommend!!


Friday, January 19, 2007

Its a Scam!!

My back is limping back to normalcy, but the doctors, the emergency room and the insurance company together are burning a huge hole in my pocket. I got a bill today from the emergency room doctor for $550. He saw me for two minutes, and this is in addition to the $1000 emergency room expense slapped on me and close to $200 in prescription drugs. I am so glad I did not see the follow up doctor. Wonder how much that would have been! My insurance company apparently will pick up $750 out of the whole thing, which still leaves a hole the size of $800 in my pocket, which incidentally happens to be what I make every month while working my behind off at two jobs on campus. No wonder the democrats are ticked off at the injustice of the health care system in this country. However, unlike them, I do not preach asking for more dole. What is needed is a free market for doctors and drug companies. The high price of medical services is entirely due to artificial restriction of the supply of doctors and medicines. Wonder why no one is complaining that this is a kind of monopolistically restrictive economic activity.
I am trying to imagine a similar situation had I been in India. I have never been to the emergency room, so I do not know how much it would cost me, and most people do not have medical insurance. My wildest guess suggests that for similar services at a local clinic or small private hospital I would have spent maybe Rs.2000-Rs.3000, and at same salary as my first job it would have been about one third my monthly salary, nowhere near the total of $1750 that my emergency room visit cost here.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Winter of (dis)content

Today would be the perfect day for lazing in my laz-boy reading my favourite book while listening to the strains of a long forgotten ghazal set to the music of pattering rain drops on my window. Its mid January and almost 20 degrees (Celsius). Its been cloudy and ready to rain at whim the past few days and I can't wait to go out and run feeling the wind and rain on my face. I am so glad Iam not in the mid west anymore. They have been battered with atleast two snow storms and three ice storms in the days since christmas eve. In Virgina, its been spring and summer weather. The cherry blossoms are confused and have already bloomed in many neighbourhoods. They usually bloom around end March early April. Its a big week long festival here in DC. We hit a record 21 degrees (Celsius) a couple of weeks back. The sun has been shining, the clouds have been rolling and the Wordsworth in me wants to escape to the mountains and spend my days by the campfire, fishing in the waters, hiking on the hills, and sleeping beneath a canopy of sparkling jewels, or get soaked in a sudden downpour, away from civilization, no phones, no internet, just me and my tanhaee.
It is perfect timing, now that I do not have an exam looming large over my head. This is one of those times I wish I had retained my car. I am so glad we are having a mild winter. I prefer it this way. This is my third winter here and I am glad this one is not my winter of discontent!!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is exhilarating torture. JKR has finally released the name of the final Harry Potter book. I have signed up at Amazon to be notified when it becomes available for pre-order, but I am all set to go wait in line at Barnes and Noble or Borders for the midnight release and spend the rest of the night reading it. Thats what I did with the last one in July 2005. My nerd radar tells me that the new one will be released sometime in October of this year. How can JKR pass up the once a lifetime opportunity to release it 7:7:7? I don't get it. Of course!! I want her to release it today so I can read it before school starts again.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Exhausted and extremely Thankful!!

It has been physically and emotionally exhausting, the past few weeks. D-day was thursday and I was such a nervous wreck. I do not know how to thank Brian, Noah and Adam for helping me through the whole ordeal. Brian helped me all through the break by hanging out and studying with me, putting up with my impatience and Indian food. It does get a bit lonely sometimes during the holidays and Brian did not let me be by myself any time. You were extremely sympathetic and patient with me. Thanks Brian, I could not have done it without you. Noah!! Well! What can I say but that you are who the proverb Friend in Need was written for, and I am blessed to be living in the same age and time as you and to be lucky enough to say I have known you as a close friend. Adam!! As always you pop in when most needed and just go back into your shell as though it was nothing, and what you do not realise is how much you do for me during the few hours you decide to pop in. Blessed indeed am I to have such beautiful friends. Thanks guys!!
Right now I am exhausted. I have a week to get ready for the next semester and intend to make full use of it by lazing and watching TV all day and all night!!


Lebanese Taverna

Anu akka and Jeeju always spoil me when I am around. Jeeju was in town on official stuff, and treated me to an awesome dinner at the Lebanese Taverna, a really busy and awesome place in Falls Church. I looked it up on Tyler Cowen's blog. I give it an A+ for food and service. It is obviously good because it was busy the whole evening, and when we first entered I was unsure if we would get a table without reservation. The service is great and the staff very courteous. I will certainly go back and with friends so we can try many more things. Their Baba Ghanouj was simply awesome. I loved the falafel and tahini. I was not very impressed with their Vegetarian and Lamb Kabob main courses. I thought the rice was a little stale, but just for the appetizers this place is awesome. If you ignore the alcohol and just have water with your meal you can have a great meal (Appetizers and main course) for about $30. You can have just the appetizers, and the endless bread basket you can be done in $15. That is an awesome deal for a poor graduate student like me. There is enough street parking even if you do not get a spot right outside the restaurant. Highly recommend!! Here's what Cowen has to say about this place.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Traffic.. India Edition!!

I found this video on google. From this angle, I cannot believe I used to drive in this city and managed to do so without a single accident. In the words of the guy who posted this video...

"this is watsup... the worst traffic you could say... but see how the traffic keeps moving without an accident. " Santosh krishna Murthy



Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. I am excited about another New Year. 365 more days of fun, excitement, love, happiness and cheer. So many more days of the company of good friends however far they are and the strong support of family. I am eager to see what this year brings me. I am sure it will be better than 2006, which goes down in history as my least productive and most anxious year. Well, I was due a bad year anyway, it has been smooth sailing for several years, and the law of averages had to work out. I am glad its over. Now, I am a year closer to completing my PhD, and a year closer to coming back home to family, friends and the life I have known for more than two decades of living. I look forward to renewed friendship with old friends and buddies. I couldn't have made it through last year without your support. Thank You guys and wish you all have a Great Year ahead.