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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Seeing DC in a new light!!

Guest blogger was in town a couple of weeks back and, yours truly had a wonderful weekend doing touristy things in DC with him. We started friday with a visit to the Spy Museum. It was a fun fun experience. For a couple of hours, we and 8 other people (most of them kids) became spies who listened to clandestine conversations and tried to decipher code. We followed a person around, broke into the office of a high official who was a suspect and scanned documents in his office which we thought would give us clues. We were in a getaway and narrowly missed being caught, interrogated a suspect, made a crucial decision on strategy and were rescued and debriefed by our senior officers. It was a fun fun experience. I highly recommend the International Spy Museum if you haven't been there already, and if you want a partner in crime, you can always count on me.

The rest of the weekend was spent on a whirlwind tour of the different art galleries, museums and monuments in the DC area. We wish we had more time than we had at the end of it. Here are a few select pictures out of the 1000 or so that Visu clicked. We are still in the process of sorting them and naming them.

This was one of my favourites at the natural History museum Fossils section on the ground floor.
We almost missed sunset at the Lincoln Memorial.
This was a shot Visu had been waiting to get. Unfortunately it was a little too dark by the time we got there. However, we still managed to get decent photos.
It was a most enjoyable visit. We walked a lot over the weekend, had little sleep, and spent a lot of time at the Air and Space Museum at Dulles. My dear fried Noah lent me his car so we had easy transportation between home and metro and when we went to the Udvar Hazy Centre on sunday. I had a great time. It was a wonderful break from the routine of school. Wish I had more time to do DC otherwise. Wish we had more time to catch up.

Summer at home

After almost two months I finally found the time to download pictures from my summer trip onto my new macbook and upload them on picasa. Here are just a few. More summer stories in the next few weeks.

My mom dad brother and lil cousin who's all grown up now. My brother balder than the last time I saw him, dressed in the traditional dress and my cousin Ashwin who is in med school now. I used to babysit him when I was in middle school. Now he advises me on correct posture for my back.
My cutiepie niece Anoushka. She was a little shy since I was just introduced to her. The cutest kid I have seen in a while. Such a joy to be around. Wish I had more time with her. She is going to be a heart breaker when she grows up. But, don't grow up lil girl!!
My high school buddy Sathya and his mom. He and I used to study together. He's a math whiz!! He took two days off work and spent a lot of money to come see me in Hyderabad (he lives and works in Chenai, a few hundred miles away) and spend some time with me. One of the closest and oldest friends I have!!
My lil cousins Ashok, Sandhya and Vijay who are all grown up now. These two boys were so naughty when they were young that we used to worry about them and if they would learn to be responsible. Ashok works for Microsoft and Vijay is a bigshot at GE India. Sandhya just started college.
My favourite mama (uncle) and me. He is just the best. I have many a memory of him picking me up from school, taking me to the doctor when I was sick and helping me with my homework. He was always there all the time growing up!! The funnest person to be with!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Few fun things I have (not)done

I got this long list from a friend and thought I would share it with my blog viewers. The ones in boldface are what I have done!!

01 Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02 Swam with wild dolphins
03 Climbed a mountain
04 Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05 Been inside the Great Pyramid
06 Held a tarantula
07 Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08 Said “I love you” and meant it
09 Hugged a tree

10 Bungee jumped
11 Visited Paris
12 Watched a lightning storm at sea
13 Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14 Seen the Northern Lights
15 Gone to a huge sports game
16 Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17 Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18 Touched an iceberg
19 Slept under the stars
20 Changed a baby’s diaper
21 Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22 Watched a meteor shower
23 Gotten drunk on champagne
24 Given more than you can afford to charity
25 Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26 Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27 Had a food fight
28 Bet on a winning horse
29 Asked out a stranger
30 Had a snowball fight
31 Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32 Held a lamb
33 Seen a total eclipse of the moon
34 Ridden a roller coaster
35 Hit a home run
36 Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37 Adopted an accent for an entire day
38 Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39 Had two hard drives for your computer
40 Visited all 50 states
41 Taken care of someone who was drunk
42 Had amazing friends
43 Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44 Watched wild whales
45 Stolen a sign
46 Backpacked in Europe
47 Taken a road-trip
48 Gone rock climbing
49 Midnight walk on the beach
50 Gone sky diving
51 Visited Ireland
52 Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53 In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54 Visited Japan
55 Milked a cow
56 Alphabetized your CDs
57 Pretended to be a superhero
58 Sung karaoke
59 Lounged around in bed all day
60 Played touch football
61 Gone scuba diving
62 Kissed in the rain
63 Played in the mud
64 Played in the rain
65 Gone to a drive-in theater
66 Visited the Great Wall of China
67 Started a business
68 Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69 Toured ancient sites
70 Taken a martial arts class
71 Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72 Gotten married
73 Been in a movie
74 Crashed a party
75 Gotten divorced
76 Gone without food for 5 days
77 Made cookies from scratch
78 Won first prize in a costume contest
79 Ridden a gondola in Venice
80 Gotten a tattoo
81 Rafted the Snake River
82 Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83 Got flowers for no reason
84 Performed on stage
85 Been to Las Vegas
86 Recorded music
87 Eaten shark
88 Kissed on the first date
89 Gone to Thailand
90 Bought a house
91 Been in a combat zone
92 Buried one/both of your parents
93 Been on a cruise ship
94 Spoken more than one language fluently
95 Performed in Rocky Horror
96 Raised children
97 Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99 Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100 Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101 Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102 Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103 Had plastic surgery
104 Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105 Wrote articles for a large publication
106 Lost over 100 pounds
107 Held someone while they were having a flashback
108 Piloted an airplane
109 Touched a stingray
110 Broken someone’s heart
111 Helped an animal give birth
112 Won money on a TV game show
113 Broken a bone
114 Gone on an African photo safari
115 Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116 Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117 Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118 Ridden a horse
119 Had major surgery
120 Had a snake as a pet
121 Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122 Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123 Visited more foreign countries than US states
124 Visited all 7 continents
125 Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126 Eaten kangaroo meat
127 Eaten sushi
128 Had your picture in the newspaper
129 Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130 Gone back to school
131 Parasailed
132 Touched a cockroach
133 Eaten fried green tomatoes
134 Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135 Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136 Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137 Skipped all your school reunions
138 Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139 Been elected to public office
140 Written your own computer language
141 Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142 Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143 Built your own PC from parts
144 Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145 Had a booth at a street fair
146 Dyed your hair
147 Been a DJ
148 Shaved your head
149 Caused a car accident
150 Saved someone’s life

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Being Sick

The worst thing about being so far away from home is being sick. This is my second experience with being very sick in this country. Last time was in November when my back seized up and I was bedridden for a whole week during the Thanksgiving break. Now its the middle of the semester and I have been down with cold and cough for a little over a week now. Have been in bed most of the time. At least last time I had a peaceful home to be sick in. This time I am having to contend with an unreasonable roomie who is loud in spite of my requests. I have never been in bed with a cold for this long and its beginning to get to me. At least all of last week I was too sick to think. Today I am slightly better, but still too weak to sit up for long. Hopefully another day of complete rest and I will be back on my feet. I need my mommy!!!

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Disappointed with the Nobel Committee

I am horribly disappointed in the Nobel Committee for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore. In my opinion he is just a fear monger. Writing books that sell and making movies that get large crowds is not the mark of a peace prize winner. Does the Nobel Committee know the environmental excesses in Al Gore's own house? Mahatma Gandhi was not given the Nobel Peace Prize, and in my opinion he was one of the greatest champions of freedom and peace the 20th Century has seen. The Nobel Committee is losing all credibility according to me.

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Guest Blogger in Town

Our guest blogger Visu is in town this weekend and we are doing all the touristy things in DC. More as the weekend progresses.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Into the Wild (Spoiler Alert)

True story and not for the faint hearted. I found myself with nothing to do on a holiday afternoon and went to see the movie cause it had 8.6/10 in the imdb ratings. Had no clue about the story or even that it was true. Wish I had been better prepared for such a sad story of a young man. It touched me deeply and I want to sob my heart out to the lonely young man who made a difference in the lives of at least two sets of people in the movie. As the story progressed I kept wondering if it was true and I kept waiting for a cheerful ending till the very end. For two and a half hours I forgot my silly worldly worries and travelled across the wilderness of the US with Alexander Supertramp, college educated, running away from the truth in search of happiness. I triumphed in his happiness and shared his pain and desolation as he lay dying in Alaska only to be found two weeks after he died. It made me very introspective of my own life and all the silliness surrounding it. Every once in a while there is a movie that shakes you at your very roots and questions your very basic choices in life. This is one of them. Makes you wonder at the pointlessness of material things in life. The story has the fatalistic mood of Thomas Hardy and an almost O Henriesque twist to it. The lone man in search of happiness, turns off the kindness of strangers, lives in the wilderness all alone, and one day it strikes him that happiness is meant to be shared, and he decides to leave the wilderness and fate takes a different turn. The ending was a shocker to me. I kept waiting for him to be rescued. As the titles rolled my cheeks were moist and it felt as if I had been in a train wreck. This is a must watch for all of you to who the finer aspects of life matters. You will not get it if you do not like philosophical movies or do not like to spend time every other week to take stock of your inner self. Leave the kids at home, its a movie for grown men and women. The cinematography is excellent so is the music. The protagonist is magical. Will bring out the child and the tramp in you. Five Big Stars!!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ratatouille

I have been dying to see this movie since even before it was released. Unfortunately, by the time it released in India I was leaving, so I had to wait for it to be released at the University Mall Theatres close to campus. I went with no expectations other than that for a PIXAR movie. It was a little less dramatic than most PIXAR movies, but wonderful story and great animation. I do not agree that anyone can cook, especially after seeing the three seasons of Top Chef on Bravo TV. But, the rat was cute so was the guy. There was a touch of reality about how difficult it is for women chefs to succeed in a male dominated society, and I was pretty sure there was some decent economics in the story as well. I thought about it while I was seeing the movie, but now it escapes me. Although its a good movie it does not come anywhere close to Monsters Inc or Shrek. The story and characters are not as memorable in Ratatouille, and in some senses it is a lil 'eeeewwww' with the Rats in the Kitchen and all that. Its not a cutsie movie that you will think about and smile. It is however, a good movie to go with the kids on a tuesday evening. Lifted, the tiny feature that was shown before the movie was much more entertaining in my opinion.

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