I was a sixth grader when my brief obsession with extra-terrestrial life forms began. The idea of life beyond the confines of our planet was fascinating. On second thought, I am quite sure I was interested in their supposedly superior technology more than anything else. Anyway, a decade down the line, without having to really try, I am technically an alien. Hence the title for the column, “An Alien’s Perspective.”
Before I came here, I was familiarized with the four phases I would go through during my stay in the U.S.: the Honeymoon, Rage, Understanding and Acclimation. The fact that I am currently going through the third of the aforementioned phases makes it hard for me to address topics from the earlier phases with accuracy. However, I promise to do my best.
What no one prepared me for was the overpowering sense of fear. It began even before I entered the U.S. I did not eat anything during my flight from New Delhi to London, primarily because I was confused by the food.
“What is this strange concoction you call tea,” I wanted to ask the stewardess. But, I was not sure how to pronounce it and my throat was dry. I needed water.
Getting off the flight, I was confused even further when I looked around the airport. Everyone seemed to belong to the Indian subcontinent. Did I get on the wrong flight and accidentally land back in New Delhi? If that was the case, my mum was going to scold me. I told myself to keep walking.
The journey to Chicago was quite uneventful. Although I am embarrassed to admit it, it was the first time I saw snow. I had to use my best poker face to pretend like it was the most mundane thing I had ever seen.
“Keep quiet and blend in,” I told myself.
Eight hours later I was still enjoying the snowflakes on the windows and the other passengers at the airport were not quite sure snow was such a great thing. I arrived in Wichita several hours later than I had planned. It was 2 a.m. A friendly (or crazy) co-passenger offered to drive me to campus. She immediately assured me she was not crazy. Hmm.
Two Wichita State University students picked me up when I got off the flight. On the road to WSU, I realized I was definitely not in New Delhi this time. People seemed to respect road rules and had fairly good road etiquette.
I was under the spell of the Honeymoon phase.