I'm Shamelessly Going Places

Last few weeks have been such a whirlwind that I've been all like Whaaa-?! Okay, so I really dunno and I'm also kind of clueless about what to fill you guys in with.. except.. that suddenly one day I decided to pack up my things back in Kolkata, and shove everything to the back of that giant thing they call an aeroplane (and hop in to like 4 of them - connecting flights) to travel halfway around the globe to this place named Tallahassee, in Florida. Unlike back home in India, where a state-capital city is like a big bustling, marginally chaotic city (usually the biggest in the state), the quiet and slow college-town of Tallahassee is the state capital of Florida.

Not Miami, as you'd have perhaps thought. Don't worry, same mistake was made there!

Nothing could've prepared me for that REALLY LONG journey than perhaps the craziness of American college football (which you get only here, so there goes that plan)! It was something like this: Kolkata to Delhi (2:30 hours), transit at Delhi (5 hours - or a little bit more perhaps, because it was that one exceptional time when my plane decided to break the usual rules and reach early), Delhi to London (9:30 hours - yawn), transit at London (4 hours - God save the Queen), London to Miami (9:30 hours - yawn, but interesting American Airlines in-flight entertainment), transit-immigration-and-customs stop at Miami (4 hours), followed lastly by this 1:30 hours' flight from Miami to Tallahassee.

I met some really interesting people on the flight.


There was this cute girl I forgot to ask the name of in the Delhi to London flight, who sat beside me. She was going to start her Master's in 'Telecommunication and blah-blah' from some university in Denver. I didn't quite catch the name of the university, and stayed shut up. It was a long flight and we talked about the things like why I chose research in biological sciences, and why she chose to work in telecommunications and all those feelings about leaving our respective cities, and what sort of life we expected after this. She seemed nice, quite composed and disciplined compared to others who came to the States for their Master's and 'to have some fun' because it's 'Florida, bitch!' (I actually know a person who put up every photo on Instagram and Facebook, that he took by the time he landed with the tagline - It's so Miami!) It's a pity we didn't exchange contact details. The cute girl. Not that mayor of Miami. We both had to rush towards the opposite direction as soon as we had landed at Heathrow.

On the next flight I met this really cool guy named Jay Green. He's an American freelance photographer who lives in Cyprus. And what makes him awesome? Well, he goes around the world taking photos of, in and at conflict zones.

Yes, he's a 53 years' old American photographer (he looks like a spitting image of the actor Thomas Haden Church) who shoots photos at war zones and stays fit by riding miles and miles of distance on his bike (so he said). Girls, you need to find him! Oh wait, I totally ignored the next sentence in the otherwise well-intended advice: He was travelling to the States to meet his girlfriend in Texas and two kids who were just a little younger than me. Sorry, about the bubble that just burst. Among other news, I'm awesome too! So we spoke about India, Pakistan, similarities and differences in habits, life in America and women. He really wanted me to drop my studies of cell cycle and cancer and try to find the ways around women's brains instead. He was convinced that it's a Nobel-worthy research work.

And I don't doubt him.

He was flirting with the two stewardesses all this while. One of them, named Susie (must've been in her 30s) was flirting back. He gave them some kind of written recommendations (the concept of which went above my head) and they were thankful. Both of them turned out to be brought up in Georgia and thus Susie invited him to her home whenever he be around. He almost monopolized her time but she didn't mind. Neither did I. At the end of the flight, she turned a heavy and large packet of 'gifts' over to him and said "Compliments from the crew, sir" and winked.

Jay was confused out of his wits, but was polite enough not to look in it right away. Screw politeness, I really wish he did though.

I'm yet to see the next flight - that last bit of my overall flight itinerary, as I think they had to carry me to that American Eagle plane since I was snoring loudly somewhere on the terminal floor. Yes, literally. They had to shove me up. "Sir! We've landed!" said the steward for perhaps the last time, while crash-carts were prepping beside him to revive me back into consciousness. Thankfully, I exhibited enough vital signs in time and the crash carts were not necessary after all.

I landed at the Tallahassee Regional Airport by evening. The airport seemed to be as small as the airport at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. After I secured my luggage at the baggage carousel, I looked for the exit sign. To my extreme surprise, the entire airport was almost absolutely empty! I approached a Morgan Freeman (because of his deep voice, not because he was black. Where's your respect, man?) and asked him which way was the exit. He pointed me towards the most obvious direction and said, "Well, there's nowhere else to go in this town" with a huge old-man-ish grin.

I instantly fell in love.

I was picked up at the airport by Johanna, a friend of my roommate Kelsey's and she took me to this amazing place named Wells Brothers Bar and Grill where I had a sandwich which was filled with a little of all the good things in this world - sunshine, music, hot-water bath, a pretty face and the tranquility of deep slumber. It was so heavy that I had to pack up the rest of it and have it as dinner later in the night. Phew, I still get the smell of meat when I burp.

Burp! Excuse me.

I lived the first 4 days without my roommate as she was yet to move in so I went exploring the town with Radhika, who is a fellow graduate student here this year for a PhD in Neuroscience. We shopped around a little, cooked food and I met her roommate who turns out to be a Bengali from New Delhi, working on some super amazing neutrino cosmic proton structural quantum energy nuclear Physics project. She's nice and has a car, which makes me think that she's even more nicer. Kidding.

This being a summer break period in a university town, it is quite empty. The streets are empty, the parking lots are empty, the trash dumpsters are empty and the departmental stores are empty. Also, much to my inconvenience, the bus routes are infrequent and less in number too. I have to walk all my way to the campus, which is not so weird for me, but for some reason, people here get freaked out at the thought of walking!

I have a greater chance of running into a cyclist or a jogger on the pavement than meeting a normal pedestrian. Oh and one more thing, they'll greet you whenever you pass by. The first time someone asked me "Hey, how's it going man?" I was like 'Fuck, do I know this creepy guy?!' I hung my head and increased the speed in which I was walking. That was a rude thing to do, I agree. But I was yet to get into the vibe of a new culture and it's new habits.

Posting a couple of randomly curated photos:

The terminal at Miami

At Gumby's Pizza, Tallahassee

Sunset at 8:15 bloody PM!

Unconquerable spirit of the 'Noles!
Near the Strozier Library
King's Life Science Department
Oaks and Ferns in the campus
Home is where the food (and a comfortable couch) is.
Jungle trail in the backyard.

2 comments:

  1. I want to meet that conflict zone photographer and I want to eat that PIZZA!
    I am jealous!

    ReplyDelete