It’s been a month. I left Chennai and home and 21 years of my life one month back. And in that one month that has flown by I have done so many things. I actually seem to have done everything but found time to blog.
I’ve met classmates. People from every part of the world. People from the next US state. Everyone seems to have so much experience, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. I sit next to people who are incredible well-versed in what we are studying and yet wonderfully humble. I walked into Columbia expecting people to be of such a crazy league that I could never have a conversation with. I do feel dwarfed, often but I’ve never felt any less confident or capable. After countless conversations over subway rides and walks, I realize we’re all the product of effort 🙂
I’ve found India. I walked into a store in Jackson Heights and I nearly exploded with happiness at the smell of sundal. I bought too much food but I enjoyed the slice of home. I also met this wonderful cab driver who was Sri Lankan. We started a random conversation which began in English and suddenly turned into one in Tamil. Now anyone who knows me from home will know Tamil isn’t my biggest strength, it still is one here. There is just something about hearing a language you know that forms a bond. After a wonderful conversation about the best place to get sambhar in New York, I got off the cab with a smile on my face and a story idea in my head.
I’ve had classes. And my biggest class has us covering ethnic beats in New York City. In a city of 8million it is almost impossible to pick a particular group you would want to cover. My conversation with the cabdriver, convinced my though. I would cover SriLankans. They’re not the largest population in New York but there are enough of them, I think to make me beat rather interesting. (At this point, anyone Srilankan in or around New York, give me a shoutout! I need to hear from you!) My professors, whom you will keep meeting through this blog, are wonderful. They have such a clean sense of what is fair and what is not. They know their journalism and so willingly teach it to us. They seem tough but I think we are also a class that can more than deal with it. I’ve already learnt lessons here. Starting with always get the full name of the person you are interviewing.
I cook. For someone who has never stepped into a kitchen in her life except to burn maggi, I don’t cook badly. After I got excited at the Indian store, I had people over for dinner. They seemed to like it, though it was a bit spicy for them. Aside from pasta and sandwiches, I can actually cook regular food. I rather like it. I’ve discovered I like being host. I like being able to serve food and drinks and receive appreciation. I certainly get why my mother likes cooking for an audience now 😀
I also eat. So far I’ve eaten at Italian, Senegalese, Vietnamese, Peruvian, Indian and American. I also eat more curd rice now than I have ever eaten before. Hopefully that will help. Sitting in New York, so far from home, with rice and yoghurt in my plate, I realized that this might just be the easiest thing to survive on. The wonder of supermarkets in the US means I don’t have to make my own curd. Thanks to a microwave ricecooker, rice involves no effort. And thanks to the abundance of pickle I brought from home, I am good to go for a while. I doubt it is comfort food but it is a rather easy-to-reach part of home in my fridge.
I’ve been a tourist and done these crazy tourist-y things like take pictures everywhere of significance.
I’ve been a New Yorker and dressed in all black early in the morning.
I also drink coffee now. that is a combination of both JSchool and New York nights.
I’ve figured the subway.
I’ve eaten a bagel at 6am.
Gone running a different route every day for a month.
Started a random conversation on the street.
Of course, there are so many things I haven’t done yet, like eating at McDonalds which is a wonderfully rare thing. Over the next ten months, I plan to do lots of things, meet many more people and have so many more experiences.
Scratch that. For the rest of my life I plan to do lots of things, meet many more people and have so many more experiences. New York is the beginning.