Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why come to Mansfield

For the lack of a lot of interesting things to do here in Mansfield, I have had a lot of time on my hands to pay a little more attention to my blog. But being the lazy ass that I am, I have been less than productive with that time. Being in Mansfield does that to me. What is Mansfield like they ask, because I haven't ever talked about Mansfield on my blog before.

Mansfield is a small town that used to be very prosperous and industrial once upon a time. Or so I have been told. If you want actual statistics and history, head over to wikipedia. Naniji has been telling me a lot about Mansfield and its history. With personal accounts of what it was like back when they moved here. But due to the recession, businesses and factories are shutting down. Most notable being the GM plant that's shutting down.

Apart from the factories, there are also a few farms. Being here in the summer is amazing. The house is located right next to a sprawling field. The corn grows so tall that it is almost like a wall to the road; which itself is not flat or level at all, but instead goes up and down the uneven terrain. It is great fun to bike on these roads. 

The house and surroundings are always very quiet and serene. The sky at night is filled with more stars than I've seen at a place in a long time. Even a small place like Seoni (M.P. India) has so much light pollution today. Mansfield is perfect for star gazing, taking star trail pictures, and looking at meteor showers. I tried taking star trail photos the last time I was in Mansfield, but my camera wasn't quite up to it.

I did bring my camera and lenses as well as the tripod with me. But I dare not venture out in the cold unless I absolutely have to. Besides the overcast sky doesn't make it look very pretty most of the time. But with the flash and the wireless trigger, I have been using the basement as my studio. Yes, naniji's house has a basement with a bar on one side. The deck from the living room has a barbecue/grill and sitting on the deck, we can look at the winding road recede into the distance and the farms on both sides of it.

We are located pretty much at the outskirts of Mansfield. We have to drive into town for all the shopping and recreation. And there are only  a few things to do for recreation. Especially during the winter. The only time I went outside the past week was to go black friday shopping. (Not counting the uncle and auntie's dinner parties.)

There seem to be a lot of Indian families in the vicinity. And they get together often to celebrate almost anything. Thanksgiving we went to a house which was buzzing with doctor uncles, Aunties and their sons and daughters who were all older than I. Uncles talked about everything from current US politics to pre independence India and the freedom struggle. Aunties swarmed around naniji and for a good length of time talked about her visit to the white house. Mamaji, Mausiji and other 'children' gathered together among themselves while I watched tv downstairs with the only other kid younger than me: Aditya, he's 12.

Being a small place, people in Mansfield are very nice. I have found better behaved people at restaurants and other public service jobs here than I did in Savannah. Southern hospitality sounds like a bunch of bull. Food here beats that of most joints in Savannah. I have come so close to some people I am sure they treat me no different from their own family.

Being here also constantly reminds me of my own family. Naniji of mom and nanaji of dad. Anju mausiji and jay mamaji; the way they tease each other reminds me of Divya and me. I feel the need to reconnect with old friends and distant family. I feel like a kid again…

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The hardest part is saying goodbye

This post has pieces paragraphs moments from different periods in time. It is not supposed to be linear. Think of it as a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Siddhant is headed back to Mumbai. Even asked me if I wanted him to bring me something back from India.
"Can't think of anything"
Soumitra is also flying back to Bangalore for the break. His arrangements were pretty last minute and his itinerary is very fucked up! Flying from Savannah to New York, 6 hours between the next flight. He has to catch the next flight from NewArk New Jersey. After he lands in Delhi, he has to wait another six hours for his flight to Bangalore. As much as I mock him for this, I would kill to be on the same journey as him.

I'm flying to Columbus Ohio today and then going to Mansfield. Where I will spend the rest of my winter break. With naniji, nanaji, Mamaji and Mausiji—among family. I should be looking forward to the good food, leisure and other comforts of being in a home versus a dorm. But my mind is preoccupied with something.

I called up Naniji first thing in the morning today to let her know the timing of my flight and ask her what I should pack. I wanted to make sure I was only taking what was necessary. I was also intending to be able to bring back as many of my books as possible.

Somewhere in the conversation I must have dropped that my friends are going back to India.
Soumitra is also flying to Bangalore.
Naniji sounded sympathetic when she said "Since all your friends are going So you must be feeling like going too, right?"
Should I lie and pretend to still be as detached and emotionless as I was a month ago; or should I suck it up and admit that saying "NO!" to mom was a mistake?
*Inhale* "Yeah, a little bit." *exhale*
"Don't worry, you can go in the summer. Mausi is coming for thanksgiving. And you'll have fun here."
She always knows the right thing to say.
His arrangements were pretty last minute
"Yeah I know. I'm not too worried. Neil is also going to be there. I will have things to do."

I have only felt this way when I was last flying from India to Canada. I couldn't even eat any of the awesome sushi at Sushi-Go at Heathrow terminal. I let Soumitra and Shekinah go find something to eat for themselves while I sit down on a random bench. They can't make up their minds so they come back and sit down with me. We hang out, crack some jokes. I'm not going to see these guys for about another month. I feel the longer I am with them at the airport the harder saying goodbye will be. So I tell them "I better start going through the security."

But Shekinah won't let me. She wants me to "Say something profound before you leave." I can never come up with anything when put on the spot like this. But I did come up with something. Now, the more i think about it, the less sense it makes. I was thinking about how I can call someone up once these guys left. And I was thinking that I can't tell anyone I was thinking that. 

Sitting at the airport all alone, waiting for my flight to take off, I am trying to put these feelings into words. But I fail. So I pop my sketchbook out and start sketching the image of a figure—myself a few minutes ago in time—the past me, sitting alone in a row of seats, looking at the ceiling… at nothing in particular, just at the general nothingness… the plain white color and the abstract geometric pattern that the architecture makes when looked at from this angle. Before I knew it, I was deeply engrossed in my storyboard. Drawing the face as a simple geometric form with no features except tears streaming down from what are supposed to be eyes.
I would kill to be on the same journey as him.

The weariness and hunger put me to sleep in the flight. I woke up in time for the refreshments. And not long after, the flight landed in Columbus. Getting off the plane was surprisingly quick as I wasn't trapped in the back of the plane. Naniji had gotten my earlier messages and was almost at the airport. Getting my checked bag at the carousel took forever. But as soon as I stepped outside, and felt the not-as-cold-as-i-expected wind in my face and saw Naniji, all was well in the world again. I forgot about all my butterflies and was craving for some food, finally! And Naniji was—as all good nanijis are—ready; with delicious food for me right there in the back seat of the car.

And stupid Soumitra will be flying all that way for something I'm getting right here. The feeling of finally being home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Joys of owning a cellphone

It has been said that Alexander Graham bell the man who invented the telephone found it an intrusion and refused to have a telephone.

Now having an attention span as short as I do, I am all for intrusions and distractions. But I really wanted to own a palm pre a couple months back. However, I could not afford the exorbitant data charges that the cellular providers here charge. So I held off, which was extremely difficult for me. Because once I've made up my mind about buying some fancy new gadget, I have to have it.

So college rolled around. I thought if nothing else, I would be making a statement by not carrying a cellphone. I did have my ipod and skype and college wifi almost everywhere. And I set up a google voice account for people who only really want to contact me via the phone. But it only recorded voice mail. So, I was constantly pressured by many disgruntled peers to get a real cellphone.

But you know, it is all a formality. People I meet ask me for my 'cell number' because it has become an accepted convention. At the risk of sounding too extreme, here is what I have to say to most of ye. "We are not close enough friends for you to need to be able to call me up at 5:30 in the morning and wake me up." Also, I simply do not expect to be called upon in an emergency. There's always my email, IM and facebook for all those other times. I have lived without a cellphone before—in Canada—and I was functioning just as well as I was with a cellphone.

But looking forward to the winter break, I realized I won't always have a wifi connection wherever I am in Mansfield. And it might get really boring without being in touch with the friends I made at SCAD(who incidentally are all flying away to their homelands too) So, Tuesday, after my english class, I went and got myself a sim card from suncoast wireless on Broughton street. Went for the minimum plan because I knew I wasn't going to get many calls and I don't speak a lot on the phone. I gave up on my dream to own a Palm Pre and popped the sim into my old Nokia E60.(Turned three years old in july 2009) I set up google voice, I set up my skype caller ID, and gave out the number to a select few people. And life continued on for me pretty much the same way for the next 24 hours.

What transpired next I could only say was a thumping loud obnoxious welcome to the wireless world of being connected. In these days, I've only ever been called up or texted while I am either studying, cooking or sleeping. WHAT THE FUCK!

Got a call from an unknown number in the middle of making lunch.
*stomach growls*

After lunch, I went to bed to make up for the all nighter I had pulled.
Got a text message asking if I wanted to watch the movie "UP"
"Fuck you, let me sleep I've already seen that movie"
is what I wanted to tell him but the asshole didn't answer his phone.

Next morning, as I am eating my breakfast, I get a message from Tatja on skype.
"What were you doing up at 5:30 in the morning?"
"Got a call from India."
"I wouldn't have picked it up. LOL"
"Yeah, I finally got a phone. Sigh."