Lost and Found

From the chaos in the Mumbai Airport to the scene in Dulles International Airport the atmosphere was a little different for Amit as he put his first step on the Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Land of Opportunities’ as the OLD SCHOOL calls it. Amit stood in the queue for the immigration and customs check with the cluster of thoughts and questions irking his mind. Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Would they stop me from entering the country if I don’t have right documents? Would they expect me to answer questions in American accent? Would they ask me about money or the mango Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½achar’ I am carrying in my black bag? It was the similar anxiety Amit faced while facing the interview at the US consulate standing in the queue since 330 AM, the night before the interview. Finally it was his chance and as nervous as he was, after seeing the officer his nervousness rose to a new dimension. Officer was a tall black guy with the body of a Bouncer working at one of the swanky clubs back home. Officer was quick to notice the nervous skinny boy from India and he asked him in a very harsh voice Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ So what all countries did you visit before coming to United States?

He immediately answered Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Sir, Nepal when I was in sixth class, Dubai in the year 1999 and US is my third.’ Officer was immediate to respond Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Son this time, not your entire life.’ Amit finally gathering his calm answered Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Sir Frankfurt but I didn’t go out of the airport and that’s it.’ Officer was almost convinced that this person is harmless and gave him the directions to baggage claim and then to the customs office.He was really relaxed realizing that he had cleared another milestone, has entered United States and had partially qualified to be called an NRI. Here is the guy from Bhopal who spent all his life in the narrow lanes of TT nagar was now in the city of Washington DC the world powerhouse. This feeling was out of this world for him but unfortunately his happy feeling was short lived. As he stood next to the conveyor belt to collect his baggage he saw his one luggage missing and also a sniff dog really trying to almost tear his other luggage. Somehow the mithai or the Parle- G biscuits in the luggage were really opening all the senses of this sniffing dog. Immediately the sniff dog lady (Customs) asked Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Do you know what do you have in this luggage?’ Madam I think I have some Indian sweets and some bishkit Lady immediately responded Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Excuse me’ This time he gesticulated the action of eating a biscuit and also saying biscuit and sweets. The lady asked him to get to the customs department to take the baggage to the X-ray screening. Amit had heard stories of people paying fines for their pickles and Pappadums earlier. He was convinced by other people that its better to convince the customs lady rather than letting your baggage go to the X ray screening. He almost broke down and told the lady about the lost baggage to gain sympathy from the lady but that was no good. Finally after pleading so many times he was able to get his luggage without paying any fine. Another sense of accomplishment was immediately overshadowed by nature’s call. After locating the toilet he ran towards the urinal to drain his emotions in the urinal until he realized that there was no partition between two urinals. Conscious that he was about his tool he preferred to wait for the toilet seat cubicles. As he was waiting he realized that his baggage was lying outside the rest room. Since he had big luggage it wasn’t easy to drag them all one by one. The only option he could think of was to bring the trolley inside the rest room and to find a spot where the trolley will sit, till he urinates with complete satisfaction and celebrate his victory. So after shoving the trolley inside the rest room he finally got a chance to urinate and ease off. After the nature’s call was answered this was the time to look for other Indian students who all needed a ride to the university.

Amit finally met the representative from his University and started walking with them out of the airport thinking that there will be a van or a shuttle with the banner welcoming the new students but there was a different picture altogether. A weird looking Sardarji asked the students “Where you go?’Everyone looked at each other and immediately gave the name of the university.

After the introductions and discussions in the taxi they finally reached the university with no pomp and galore. To his surprise there was no one to receive at the university entrance as well. Now he had to register for courses, apply for SSN (social security number) and also look for a place to live âÂ?¦.The most important thing was to look for an On-campus job. The kind of On- Campus jobs ranged from Research Assistant, Cafeteria assistant, Sports assistant, Community service assistant, Media assistant ,Web development, technical assistant and a few other jobs. It was really difficult to find a job with so many Indian, Chinese, European, African and undergraduates applying for that job. Another criteria for job selection was the number of good female co-workers you had in your organization. The first step was to create a resume and the idea was to make the resume full of key words like Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Enthusiastic and Keen’. Amit a simpleton that he was, wanted a job in the Technical services lab which was a favorite with all the students because there was this pretty gal Lisa working in the lab drawing everyone’s attention. Amit approached the manager of the lab with the trademark resume and a smile but manager was prompt in saying.”We will keep it for future reference and let you know if something comes up.” In other words he meant NO. As the university was located in downtown, it was hard to find a decent place for less than 1000$ and that too when you have no job but then again Amit had no idea that there were many other desi students who wanted roommates and were ready to share a studio or 1 bed room. He finally found a place with 5 people living in a one bed room apartment and was happy to move into that place. Now that his living was taken care of he wanted to look for another job. He applied to all the other possible job options he had and finally got an On campus job as a Media assistant where he had to take care of the class room media such as TV VCR laptops, overhead projectors, other electronic media etc.. His job was to basically move this stuff from one class room to the storage and then do the connections, basically quite simple job but that would keep him going with the rent at least.

Now that his work and living was taken care of he wanted to see the world through colored spectacles and try something new in a different land.’Lets go out to a bar or a strip club’ Manoj (his roommate) suggested. The idea of going to a strip club was liked by everyone. All the six naÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ve band of brothers searched on the Internet and finally found a place with strippers and no cover charge. Since all of them were geeks they had never seen a nude girl except on the television. So all the roommates started getting ready to watch their first parade of fun freedom and galore. As they were walking towards the strip bar Amit had this fight going on between his brain & organ and finally when the organ overtook the brains he joined the queue for the ID check. After all the ID and coat checks they made it to the inside of strip bar. It was a dim lighted place with strippers all around on and off the poles, waitresses clad in mini skirts serving tables. Everyone was fascinated by seeing some scantily clad and some nude women dancing their hearts away. The usher took them to a small round table right across from a small stage and everyone started waiting for the next song to start and the next stripper to come. 1âÂ?¦.2âÂ?¦..3 and our next stripper is Elizabeth the announcer screamed at the top of his voice. There came this beautiful gal dressed as a scholar with the black gown and started dancing on the pole. Everybody started waiting enthusiastically to see her undress and as she came closer all of them were dumbstruck. It was none other than the heart throb of the university Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Lisa’ dancing on the pole ready to strip for some petty cash.

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