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.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Google Indic Transliteration - English to Hindi

Google Labs came out with this new tool -
Indic Transliteration. Its really cool - you type in English and it converts it to Hindi. Google has added this tool to the Blogger too. You can enable Hindi transliteration by going to this webpage and signing in -

An example: कुत्ते कमीने मैं तेरा ख़ून पी जाऊँगा

Google Zindabad!!!
गूगल जिंदाबाद !!!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Enchant with a smile

One of the things I learned when I started to live alone was that I needed the help and support of a lot of people. I was known as a pretty serious person all through high school, not easy to laugh! All that changed in college and I realised that life need not be that serious all the time. Since then I have learned to smile a lot and it was so amazing to notice how friendly people became once I just smiled at them, not just lip-service, but genuinely feel it from the heart. Through all these years, I have wiggled my way out of several very difficult situations by disarming highly annoying people with just a smile and lot of kindness and patience. I always used to say Thank You to cab drivers and others who helped me even before I went to the States, and out in the US it is pretty common to talk to strangers and say Thank You and Please. This past three years I have honed my people skills and have been amply rewarded with some amazing returns of kindness. Even extremely annoying and difficult people cannot help but smile back if you smile at them, and most times people are just stressed out and a little empathy, patience and a big smile goes a long way. There are days in the US when a stranger's smile and genuine wishes of a good day have lifted my homesick spirits and blue soul. There are only two exceptions to my Smile and Conquer rule. I have been unable to win over only two people this way (to the best of my knowledge). One is a very very angry short tempered and surly lady at the Post Office counter at GMU campus. I tried for a whole year to make her warm up to me, but she never did, and I am sad for her, cause she is such an angry person and is losing out on the goodwill of so many nice people. The other is the person in charge of my lodgings right now. He has been extremely hostile and suspicious from the beginning, has implicitly called me a liar and I am at my wits end. I usually believe that when people do not warm up to me the fault lies with me and try to be even friendlier and polite and patient. It is just not working right now, and not only am I sad, I am also angry because he is making my check-out extremely difficult for me. The same person is courteous to a bossy guest who is very rude and arrogant. However, I will remain true to myself and continue to believe that you can always win over people with an enchanting smile and a lot of heartfelt kindness.

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A Khushi (joy) filled afternoon

I had a lovely afternoon with my friend Cathy and her family. The last time I saw her lil girl she was a toddler and now she is a bright bubbly six year old. Her son Rishabh has also grown and is almost as tall as I am. His tennis racket was taller than him the last time I saw him. Khushi in Hindi means joy and she is a joy to be around. Rishabh was always a little shy and he remains the same. I simply love both the kids and Cathy. Cathy was so nice to me when I was here by myself. There were several days when she would bring me and my other bachelor colleagues home made food. She is also a cool mom. She is very free with her kids and takes them out and basically is a very atypical Indian mom. She is just a lovely wonderful person and it was amazing that I could spend a few hours with her family. I was also lucky to meet her mom who is also a nice person. These are my family in this city and I wish I could have more time with them. Her husband Kunal was away at work and I could not meet him. Here are pictures with her family!!

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Section Wars

The students on campus here have just finished their mid term exams and to celebrate there have been all kinds of talent shows and Section Wars. There are four sections A-D and PGP-X is another track of students. I have been hearing their loud participations the past couple of days. It was too crowded for me to be part of the revelry, and so I stay put. This morning, however, I went out with my camera to take pictures of their collage and graffiti on the walls of the student dining hall, both inside and outside. These are really amazing and show how creative these kids are. Here is a sample. In this banner, there are 78 such masks each representing one student from Section D and each mask has the name of a student on it. The rest is on my Picasa page here!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Amazing ad from the old days

This is an ad for Dhara Cooking oil. Put on your headphones and turn up the volume, the audio quality is pretty bad in this video.

For my non-Hindi friends, here's a crude translation..

lil boy : Ramu Kaka (Ramu is a name, and Kaka is a term for uncle)
Ramu kaka: Hey Babloo, what are you doing here?
lil boy: everyone is angry, I am running away from home
Ramu kaka: but mom has made hot hot jalebis (a sweet dish) at home
lil boy: jalebi?!
mom: so what have you decided?
lil boy: i have to go.. but..
dad completes: 20 25 years later!!

This ad was a sensation and the kid became pretty famous!!

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