Posted by: Sanjeev | May 14, 2008

After the rain.

The knocking sound was loud.  Someone was slamming a door.  And in the cavernous rectangle that is my unfurnished flat, I wasn’t sure who, why, or where.  A neighbor upstairs?  The landlord next door?  Someone outside in the road below?

Then it occurred to me.  My windows were slamming themselves.  Delhi’s dry morning heat had been transformed into the gusty grey of a rainstorm.  And my unfastened windows were slamming open and shut, over and over again.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | May 13, 2008


Apparently, we Costco bulk-shopping Americans have it all wrong. Mueslix isn’t just something you buy in a box, an assortment of dried fruit and cereal waiting for milk. It takes a little love and preparation.

Jacob shows me the method one morning, after yet another stay at the Uday Park Home for the Young and Restless. It is at this lovely flat where I join Jacob and Sridevi, along with third housemate Meghna, for breakfast.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | May 10, 2008

And now, the Americans.

Suddenly, I was back in Washington D.C.

It was an elegant house, in a very elegant neighborhood. The living room was nicely furnished and clean. A curvy staircase hinted at the rooms above, but a gate designed for children, dogs, and erring party-goers blocked our path.

Meanwhile, the ground floor dining room offered up piles of quesadillas and tamales. As I made up for a missed dinner, the largely white crowd of U.S. Embassy staff chatted away. I wandered to the bookshelf in the corner — stacks and stacks of cds.

A gorgeous home, and only one person living here. He was a friend of Mahesh’s, and the two of them had recently returned from an ultimate frisbee competition in Chennai.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | May 5, 2008

On the hike.

I hadn’t done any exercise in four months, and it was showing. A mildly warm day, and several kilometers of hiking ahead. I was already tired, and I knew I was going to continue to feel that way for a long time. It didn’t help that I was wearing jeans too.

We were staying at an upscale lodge a half-hour’s drive above Nanital. Nanital is on the Kumoan side of India’s Uttarakhand state. It is a land of hills and mountains that eventually give way to the Indian and Nepali Himalayas.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | May 1, 2008

Halfway to home

Over dinner, Divya tells me that many of her Indian-American friends are getting ready to head home. They are coming up on two or three years in India, and they are feeling the pull back to the States.

Divya herself has an interesting background — Oman by childhood, India by passport, America by college, “South India” by ethnic roots, and global by Facebook. Her salsa lessons are in Delhi, her family is in Oman and the U.S., and her friends are everywhere.

But as I mull over the general trajectory of her U.S.-born friends, I can feel my own homeward tug. Except that for me, it has been only six months. And there are still four more months to go.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | April 30, 2008

Friends on NPR (audio article)

This expat world in New Delhi always strikes me as so small. So few people, consistently bumping into each other at similar parties and bars — and under a small family of international employers too.

The World Bank consultant, the visiting journalist, the social investment analyst, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation public health specialist. And then there are the many Western-educated local Indians as well. People like my friend Neeraj Doshi, who is helping build sustainable eco-tourism in India.

Now, I can bump into their voices too. NPR has done a piece on Indian-Americans in India tackling problems of pollution. It’s a bit optimistic and shiny, but it is still nice to know that for the past six months, I’ve been had the privilege to meet the kind of idealistic people whose voices would be picked up by NPR. Not that one should look to radio interviews for validation of one’s peer group.

Young Indians Abroad Return to Help Better Country

Neeraj Dooshi

Jessica Goldstein, NPR

Neeraj Doshi hopes to finance a new garbage collection company in India.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | April 25, 2008

Human extinction (article)

Can humans go extinct? It’s an interesting question. And it becomes even more interesting when one considers that many scientists think we almost once did:

“The Genographic Project’s findings are also consistent with the idea – held for some years now – that modern humans had a close brush with extinction in the evolutionary past.

The number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the Late Stone Age.”

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Posted by: Sanjeev | April 22, 2008

My english is good.

The bohemian tourist sat down in one of the cafe’s perfectly-modern couches. Her hair was in a rubber-banded ponytail. Her maroon dress carried the subtle floral print of a fashionable traveler.

For the record, I would like to state the following: my decision to help her was unaffected by her elegant height or blonde Dutch hair.

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Posted by: Sanjeev | April 21, 2008

I am a foreigner. Now I will dance.

Because I look Indian and have a name like Sanjeev, the Indian Consulate in San Francisco gave me the mysterious “X” visa for persons of Indian origin — valid for five years with multiple entries allowed.

Only catch? If I want to stay for longer than 180 days at a time, I have to “register.”

Beware of simple-sounding words like “register.”

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Posted by: Sanjeev | April 20, 2008

Hello Jaipur?

In high school, we knew the drill. If the university sent you a response in a normal-size envelope, you had been rejected. If your mailbox contained something stuffed with documents, you were on your way to a college education.

Of course, summer language programs don’t necessarily have the same pomp and circumstance. But when I found my acceptance letter in the form of an email in my inbox, I knew that things had come a long way.  I had been accepted into an intensive 3rd Year Hindi program. And I had the American Institute for Indian Studies (AIIS) to thank for their generosity.

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