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  • Greetings from Amreeka


    by Vikrant
    8th June, 2008 at 5:47 am    

    Lo’ Picklers

    It’s been over a year since I left my suburban Surrey home and moved to the big flat cornfields of the Midwestern United States, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois to be precise. Over 150 miles south of the windy city, this place is practically in the middle of no where. Urbana-Champaign is apparently known for its tornadoes and its brutal winters and as I’ve come to learn over the past year, its unforgiving engineering school!

    But going to a uni in Unites States has its perks too. Frats for one :) . Though their self righteous babble about brotherhood, charity and upholding Greek values seems comical, Frats are in fact a good excuse to get pissed and stoned on weekends. Only thing Greek about them (other than random three Greek letters of their name) being those Toga parties full of debauchery! It is every Frat boy’s dream in fact to be invited to that annual toga party thrown by the Delta Delta Delta sorority, Delta Delta Delta sisters or tri-delts as they colloquially known, have a reputation for their stunning looks, affluence and… promiscuousness.

    Did I mention yet, how easy it is for lads from Blighty to pick up girls here? Mid-western ladies are such suckers for my accent, a weakness I’ve exploited to maximum benefit :) . Having said that,an average American remains woefully ignorant about existence of British Asians. Many automatically expect me to speak in a mid-western or an Indian accent. An Asian lad speaking Estuary isn’t their idea of a British guy. In American parlance I’m not even Asian! I do get self-righteous twits who ‘correct’ my pronunciation or like one of them who told me “you may have a British passport, but that doesn’t make you British”.

    Right now though, every one is home for summer, while i am stuck on the deserted campus waiting for summer sessions to begin in that nefarious nest of Californian commies… UC Berkeley!

    Meanwhile, right now amidst the blaring tornado sirens a lone Springsteen croons from my neighbour’s flat…
    “This is radio nowhere… is anybody alive out there?”


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    1. Desi Italiana — on 8th June, 2008 at 8:53 am  

      “Though their self righteous babble about brotherhood, charity and upholding Greek values seems comical, Frats are in fact a good excuse to get pissed and stoned on weekends. Only thing Greek about them (other than random three Greek letters of their name) being those Toga parties full of debauchery! It is every Frat boy’s dream in fact to be invited to that annual toga party thrown by the Delta Delta Delta sorority, Delta Delta Delta sisters or tri-delts as they colloquially known, have a reputation for their stunning looks, affluence and… promiscuousness.”

      Oh, you’re so young :)

      “In American parlance I’m not even Asian!”

      “Asian” here means East Asian, to be precise. Here, we say “South Asian”, though I am sure you already know that.

      “like one of them who told me “you may have a British passport, but that doesn’t make you British”.”

      I still get asked where in India I was born, or when I came to the US, even though I have the thickest California accent.

      “summer sessions to begin in that nefarious nest of Californian commies… UC Berkeley!”

      You’ll be pleased to know that the socio-economic, racial, and political composition of the campus has changed since its turbulent political times in the 60s and 70s which gave Berkeley the reputation of being a hotbed of “commies”. Most of the campus is now white, yuppy, etc. But please be aware that the California ‘commies’ fought for free speech- that little principle which is once again under attack- and has an important place in the social and political history of the US. If you think the Berkeley campus is nefarious, then I’d say Urbana is the perfect place for you.

    2. SalmanRush — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:07 am  

      When you’re in Berkeley, don’t forget to eat at Curry in a Hurry. Down home Indian food. I think its on Telegraph.

    3. Desi Italiana — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:14 am  

      “When you’re in Berkeley, don’t forget to eat at Curry in a Hurry. Down home Indian food. I think its on Telegraph.”

      Noooooo, the best place to go for Desi food is on University Ave, not Telegraph!

      Just don’t go to Chaat Cafe. Please.

    4. SalmanRush — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:16 am  

      Ooooh yuck-University Ave

    5. Desi Italiana — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:27 am  

      I can’t believe you would say that. Some of my fondest memories come from there :(

      When I was a young, fresh undergrad, there used to be the ghetto-est Desi restaurant that my uncle and auntie used to take me to when they came to visit me. They had the best mango lassi and masala dosi, all for a whopping $2.50. $2.50! Nowadays, they charge you $2.50 for the crappiest mango lassi in a Dixie cup, let alone a complete meal with a masala dosa AND lassi.

      When I went back to University Ave years later, I discovered that it was no longer existent.

    6. Desi Italiana — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:29 am  

      But if you want good “Indian” food, go to a “Pakistani” restaurant, which is usually just a bunch of Punjabis from both sides of the border making the tastiest parathas, tandoori chicken, etc. YUM.

    7. Desi Italiana — on 8th June, 2008 at 9:32 am  

      “Ooooh yuck–University Ave”

      But I do admit that I dislike the kitsch Desi shops lining Univ. Ave which cater to Westerners, and charge like $500 for a bottle of Ayurvedic pills or some crap like that.

      Alternatively, you could go to Fremont. Take the BART all the way down.

      Vikrant, you will realize that NOTHING compares to the Bay Area. Nothing. When you return to Urbana, you will be sad.

    8. Vikrant — on 8th June, 2008 at 12:19 pm  

      If you think the Berkeley campus is nefarious, then I’d say Urbana is the perfect place for you.

      jesus… Desi.. lol. I have nothing against Berkeley (perhaps other than the fact that their department of EE and Comp Sci waitlisted me twice and then rejected me and also they kicked out my ROTC comrades this Feb!)

      Still Salaman and Desi, thanks for the suggestions, Urbana has like one curry house and its shit. Seriously the Indian food i;ve had in US (not just Urbana but Chicago, NYC and DC) doesnt compare to London. As for Bay Area i absolutely love it, i’ve stayed there over many a summer when my uncle used to live there.

    9. Vikrant — on 8th June, 2008 at 12:28 pm  

      err… i just realised Berkeley kicked out the Marines not ROTC. But yeah whatever when my battalion was out there in California dousing fires last summer, i remember all those Marine units down there saving lives… and Berkeley kicks them out!!

    10. digitalcntrl — on 8th June, 2008 at 2:37 pm  

      “Delta Delta Delta sisters or tri-delts as they colloquially known, have a reputation for their stunning looks, affluence and… promiscuousness.”
      (in the most twangiest southern accent) Delta-Delta-Delta, we love to love you, suck you, fuck you

      “Having said that,an average American remains woefully ignorant about existence of British Asians.”
      Americans were woefully ignorant about Indian Americans in general till the IT boom let alone British Asians.

      “Many automatically expect me to speak in a mid-western or an Indian accent.”
      You can thank me and my fellow mid-western Indians for that. Your engineering school must be full of FOB Indians doing graduate degrees.

      “I do get self-righteous twits who ‘correct’ my pronunciation”
      Because it is the right pronunciation : p

      “or like one of them who told me “you may have a British passport, but that doesn’t make you British”.”
      Indeed true, it took about 20 years starting in the 80s for Indian Americans to be considered more American than Indian.

    11. bikhair — on 8th June, 2008 at 8:21 pm  

      Vikrant,

      I’m jealous. I miss the “Yay” area.

    12. Desi Italiana — on 9th June, 2008 at 9:43 am  

      “I’m jealous. I miss the “Yay” area.”

      Because the Bay Area is hella tight.

    13. AsifB — on 9th June, 2008 at 11:00 am  

      A student on holiday complaining about being stuck in California for the holidays. Sounds more like bragging to me….

      “Many automatically expect me to speak in a mid-western or an Indian accent.” Shame- i’d have thought Kal Penn’s sterling efforts in Harold and Kumar and Van Wilder would be making inroads into just the sort of demographic you need Vikrant.

      But no but despite decades of exposure to prom nights and frat houses on screen,(with all due respect to John Belushi) I’ve never understood why kids over here should want to adopt such American ways. (though I’ll admit Ferris Bueller did have a good day off.)

    14. DJ Drrrty Poonjabi — on 9th June, 2008 at 1:46 pm  

      “Most of the campus is now white, yuppy”

      You mean Asian, conservative.

      Still, there’s fun to be had on and around the UCB campus. If you want to check out some great food and music, I’ll be happy to show you around the Yay Area, Vikrant. My email is in my blog link, on the right of the page.

    15. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 4:51 pm  

      “You mean Asian, conservative.”

      No, I meant white as well. Lots of yuppy Asians no doubt, but the campus is way whiter than my time.

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