Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not Doing Anything

Most of us are constantly doing things. Or at least thinking about doing things.
"How was your weekend?"
"What did you do?"
"Nothing much - went to the city to meet friends on Friday - had dinner at this hole in the wall Ethiopian place. You should try it out sometime! On Saturday - did a short hike near Fremont. Took it easy on Sunday. You?"

In this age of constant Facebook brag, all of us, to some degree or other, feel the "pressure" to lead exciting lives. To do cool things. Be different. Work hard, party harder, right?

I'm as guilty of this as anybody else - constantly feeling like I need to do something or be somewhere. Last Sunday, though there was a 3 hour window in the afternoon when I absolutely did not do anything. And it was unbelievable.

I had already check marked the "yes, I did something this weekend" box by going to Santa Cruz for lunch on Saturday and meeting a friend in the city on Friday (doubled with listening to an awesome local band at Cafe du Nord - The Ponies). So after a heavy lunch, the temptation to just lay down on one of the chairs by the pool (what do you call them, by the way?) with the temperatures in the 70s, was just too much. I went in with the intention of reading a book but within 15 minutes had slipped into a reverie. 

Every now and then the whir of a plane would wake me up and I would go back to my book - Steinbeck's "Cannery Row". I had deliberately picked that book since it was based out of Monterey, a place now familiar to me. Also I have always wanted to read more of him after reading "Travels With Charley".

But the reading would last only a few minutes and I would soon change postures to go back to a half awake, half asleep state. At one time, the 2 ducks in the swimming pool, who till then had been absolutely stationary, (perhaps sleeping too?) decided to wake up, get wet and then jump out and dry themselves by flapping their wings. My friend and I watched the routine intently for a minute.

It doesn't take a lot to be happy. Well, let's try to say this differently. You can have a great time without anything really happening. After 3 hours I had read a total of 40 odd pages, seen a few planes fly by, witnessed the ducks do their dance and a hummingbird hover over a pot of flowers hung in the balcony. And it made me super happy and content. So much so that I decided to give a shot at this blog after a hiatus lasting over a year.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snow: This is why I read Orhan Pamuk

It's been a gorgeous winter in Dallas - with the sun rays streaming through the blinds on to my living room from morning through late afternoon. The bright, sunny days with highs touching 70s at times are as far removed as can be from the snowy, stark and silent streets of Kars. And yet, such is the power of Pamuk's prose that during all those hours spent reading his masterpiece, I felt like I was in Kars.

Early on in the novel, snow - one of the recurring themes in the novel, makes an appearance.

...he peered into the wretched little shops and bakeries and broken down coffee houses that lined the streets of Erzurum's outlying suburbs, and as he did it began to snow. It was heavier and thicker than the snow he'd seen between Istanbul and Erzurum. If he hadn't been so tired, if he'd paid a bit more attention to the snowflakes swirling out of the sky like feathers, he might have realized that he was traveling straight into a blizzard; he might have seen at the start that he was setting out on a journey that would change his life forever and would have chosen to turn back.
Trimmed down to its very basics, Snow is the story of Ka, a Turkish poet exiled in Frankfurt, who comes to the remote Eastern border city of Kars to investigate the string of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear head scarves. But he is also there because of memories of a beautiful woman named Ipek.

In the whirlwind three days that follow, a blizzard isolates Kars from the rest of Turkey as roads and rails are blocked; the boundaries between art and life are blurred as a theater troupe stages a farcical coup; people are killed as political intrigue involving the Kurds, Turkish Republicans, and Islamists deepens; Ka finds sudden inspiration as poems magically start coming to him as he falls desperately and passionately in love with Ipek and realizes that the only happiness he can know is spending the rest of his life with her in Frankfurt; and we encounter a handsome and charismatic Islamic terrorist as Ka begins to question his beliefs on atheism and wonders about God and his existence.

Throughout the novel, Pamuk gives us a glimpse of what makes Turkey and Kars in this case, unique. The chequered history and a melting pot of civilizations which makes it hard for its people to find their identity.

As he gazed at the grand old buildings on either side, admiring their handsome doors, their generously proportioned eaves, their beautiful friezes, and their dignified but timeworn facades, Ka had a strong sense of the people (Armenians who traded in Tiflis? Ottoman pashas who collected taxes from the dairies?) who had once led happy, peaceful and even colorful lives here. Gone now were all the Armenians, Russians, Ottomans and early Republican Turks.....

As we get to know about the life of the people in Kars - the poverty and hopelessness, the struggle to define their identity and religiousness, the constant conflict between East and West: manifested not only in religious beliefs but also in values, morality, culture and a way of life; we are slowly drawn towards the people in this far away city and we begin to understand their hopes and fears, their needs and desires. Coupled with the constantly falling snow which shrouds the city in silence and a sense of desolation, it is easy to see why the novel effortlessly transports the reader to a different world.

And then there's Ipek. Ka's is so enamored by her beauty that he cannot think of a life without her. It is this fear of losing her and losing his last hope of finding happiness that makes him so vulnerable and humane. Even when Ka's friend (who is narrating the whole story) meets her, he is left amazed.

Ipek was more beautiful than anyone could have imagined. At this dinner, where I had my first glimpse of her, I mush confess to have found myself stunned, bedazzled and deeply jealous. ... I was beset by all manner of those feelings that women of exceptional beauty never fail to inspire; gazing at this paragon before me, I felt myself crumbling, I felt possessed.

Love, God, happiness, patriotism, change - the themes that make up Snow are universal and timeless. The setting, though (for an Indian residing in a secular US), is totally different. And the greatness of this novel lies in the lucidity and honesty with which it manages to blend the familiar with the unknown. Everyone should read this. If not for the commentary about modern day Turkey told in a mash up of political thriller, travelogue, historical fiction and drama; then for the sheer joy of discovering how a great book can make you feel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Travels in the US

Two reasons I felt like writing a post today.

1) Exactly six years ago, I started this blog and it almost felt like an obligation to write something. Although considering that my frequency of posts has drastically gone down, it might be time to call it a day and start something afresh. Will see.
2) I've wanted to make a map of my travels in the US this year ever since I did a road trip with my friends in June. So here it is.

2011 has been a great year in terms of travel. I thought I had seen a lot of the US till I made this map and realized how much still remains to be seen. All the trips were different. Vacation with parents where I was in charge of everything. Road trip with friends where the night's hotel was booked during the afternoon. Beach week craziness at a 20 member house. Impromptu one day road trips. Bachelor parties. A wedding. And a couple of official ones. The last one, in Seattle is coming up during the X-Mas weekend. And I think it would be a great one to round up the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living in the Age of Disruption - Television

The show was named "Superstars of Soccer" and if my memory serves me right, it aired at 10 PM. I don't quite remember if it was sometime before 1990 World Cup in Italy or the next one but have a feeling that it was the former. My dad was a huge soccer fan and had gotten me to watch the sport (basically only the World Cup). A one hour show packed with clips of the Johan Cruyffs and Maradonas and Zicos scoring goals was enough the capture the imagination of an eight year old. What I vividly remember about the series is that we would often rush back from a family friend's house so as to be able to watch it uninterrupted at home. Bring dinner to the living room table and see spectacular goals being scored. 

And now we have YouTube. So much for instant gratification.

One Show. One Time.

Like any kid born in the 80s in India, Doordarshan was my introduction to television. And apart from Ramayan and Mahabharat, the only thing I remember are the Spiderman and He-Man cartoons. There were hardly any sports (or I was too small to care) and watching TV was more often than not dictated by the program which was being aired at that time of the day. Which essentially meant you picked your shows and adjusted your life around it. If you missed it, it was gone. Forever. And you asked your friends about it and replayed it in your mind. 

More Channels. More Movies.

The big change sometime in the 90s was cable TV. Suddenly you had this thing called "options". A dozen channels. Actually, I think there were more but our TV only had so many channels. So you had to pick favorites. Zee TV, Star TV, BBC World, MTV (they played music back then) and a few other channels almost immediately changed our TV viewing behavior. The concept of channel surfing came into being. There was this air of unpredictability. Let's turn on the TV and see what's on. I would do that with my mom in the evening before dad came back from work. We didnt have channel guides and often weekend editions of newspapers would have all the TV listings. I remember spending a good 10-15 minutes to make sure I had all my action movies covered. To add to the entertainment portfolio, my dad got us a VCR. Still remember the first day trying to set it up. Took us the entire evening. Compared to today's interfaces, that was almost command line like in its demeanor. The advent of VCPs and VCRs (which could also be rented) opened up this whole "Video Parlor" business - shops which would stock copies of Indian and Hollywood movies and rent them out. Nobody I knew "bought" video cassettes. It was way too costly. One particular guy at one of these shops was an avid movie watcher and introduced us to classics like The Gods Must Be Crazy and Dances with the Wolves. We would spend hours at his shop browsing through the library and chit chatting about the movies he had watched. It was one of the more memorable outings that I used to have as a teenager. The quality would often be sub par, though. Sometimes it was bearable. Just a glitch here and there. On the rare occasion, we would have to return it to the shop without being able to watch it. It was normal. A little depressing but absolutely normal. Cassettes get damaged. It was the way things are supposed to work.

The R in the VCR meant that we could record stuff too. And the one we had was powerful enough so that we could set timers to turn on the TV and record stuff even when we were away! Pretty cool, right? We never figured out how to do it. Nevertheless, we did record some live stuff. The 1994 World Cup Soccer Final, for instance. I never watched it afterwards. Roberto Baggio was my hero and it broke my heart to think about that final.

Whatever. Whenever.

Fast forward to the 2000s. The channels increased to over a hundred and the TVs became more powerful but essentially the model remained the same. You had a cable provider (and may be a set top box). CD/DVD players replaced VCRs. Although people had started to buy CDs. They were cheaper and lasted a lot longer. So yes, we are moving from a rent-only mentality to a buy-really-good-movies one. Or buy-cheap-pirated knock offs. I, for my part had moved to college and discovered the power of the internet and P2P file sharing software.

Terabytes of videos. DVD quality. And Free. Beat that!
I perfectly blended into this free model as everything from the latest American sitcoms to the Kurosawa movies were suddenly a click away. Watching as much of the the IMdB Top 250 as possible almost became a fashion statement of sorts. Not that I knew the term then, but this was "Time Shifting" at its pinnacle. You could always watch movies later. The whole Video Cassette followed by CD/DVD industry was built on this premise. That people would want to and should be able to watch any movie any time. Not just when it played in the theaters. But before I went to college, I didn't know that this happened for TV as well. So now, no matter when the 1st season of FRIENDS aired, I  could download it from the LAN and watch it as many times as I wanted to. It was fascinating. 

What began in college continued in Bangalore too. I missed the LAN but still had a hold on LOST and How I Met Your Mother. Bit Torrent to the rescue. I couldn't imagine people paying for content when piracy was so rampant. And so easy. And nobody ever got caught. And thus, "owning" became the default. First I would burn movies into CDs. But then as storage became cheap and 500 GB external HDDs became pocket sized, it became the norm. Download entire seasons and keep them in your hard drive. Not a penny expended. Technology changing consumer behavior. Ah! now, I get it. Thanks to my MBA!

TV meets Internet & I start paying.

The last bit of this story brings us to my life in present day America. I spent the first two years in this country in school which meant there wasn't time to really watch any TV. There were way more interesting things going on. As a result I stopped downloading stuff. Still, buying digital content was an uncomfortable notion for me. Years of access to free, hi-def videos had had its impact. But then there was the question of ease and any time access. Add a hi speed internet connection and a relatively cheap fee to the mix, and I began to realize why I would finally be ok with paying for content. So I got my internet enabled TV with a built in Hulu and Netflix app and access to a couple of other on demand movie stores. Renting  or streaming at a monthly subscription is still a lot cheaper than buying. And I found myself moving from the owning-for-free to the paying-for-rent mentality. A full circle, in some ways.

So much has changed. From the devices themselves to the way content is distributed to the way it is consumed and the way people relate to it and react to it. From a one time only event, most of Television today is available almost immediately after it is first screened. Hulu has made a name out of the concept of "Second Day TV" (making popular shows available for streaming a day after they are aired). It's even more fascinating for me because I work in an industry which is so intricately linked to all of this.We expect instant streaming at hi qualities and are annoyed by the slightest glitch or delay in playback. Things are so easy now. And will get easier in the future. And our options will explode. TV would soon move into (it has already started) handheld devices. It would become more interactive. If you follow this space as closely as I do, you would be aware of how it's being billed as the last domain ripe for digital disruption. And I thought so much has already changed !

Enough of writing about TV. Time to catch some Arrested Development on Netflix!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Of Korean Food & American Pop Culture

I'm not nearly there but I've definitely gotten better. At eating food with chopsticks, that is. Thanks to the delicious Korean food at my company cafeteria. I love the spicy pork and the chicken and the Bi Bim Bap. The veggies aren't too bad either and along with the meat are the easy part. I've learnt the technique to pick them up and eat without looking like a retard. But I seriously think that it's the clumped up nature of it that makes it possible to even try to eat rice with chopsticks. I still take a fork though. To finish it up. Because the hardest part is when you literally have grains of rice left. I use them more when I go alone for lunch (not because I'm not popular, though). Just feels easier trying out slightly different holding techniques.

Enough about food. Now for the second part of the post title.

I've always considered my knowledge of pop culture above average. Of late it has risen drastically owing to the new fall season premiers on NBC, FOX, ABC & CBS and the fact that I have started following the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, I admit it. I love coming home from work and watching everything from Parks & Recreation to Sing Off (if you like music you should watch it because it's the most unique show out there and the judges actually make sense and talk about music rather than other stuff) to X-Factor to Prime Suspect to Modern Family on TV. And if I'm not feeling particularly sleepy I also catch parts of Jimmy Fallon and Craig Fergusson before going to sleep. Fallon is way better by the way.

Point is, since the days of bit torrent at IIT, I've considered myself pretty knowledgeable about all this - music, movies, TV shows (the core components of pop culture - according to me). It took some time getting up to date with the Rock n Roll stuff of the 60s onwards but I'm satisfied with the progress I've made. 

On the other hand, during the three years of my life at Bangalore, I got up to speed with the Indian pop culture too. Not that I was far behind. But with uninhibited access to internet and TV and room mates who were just as enthusiastic, we made sure everything from MTV Roadies and Splitsvilla to Himmesh Reshammiya and Indian Idol was consumed. And yes, there was Times Of India - the ultimate entertainment piece. No, I'm not just talking about Bangalore Times (insert any city name that had its own version) here. Read aloud sessions from ToI were one of the most fun we had at times. Oh, how I miss those!

Anyway, let's get to the crux of the matter here. For the first time today, I actually listened to the desi Radio station in Dallas today. 104.9. And the reason was that instead of talking about how to save taxes and the new jewelry store in Plano, they were actually playing some good new music. Some of it was apparently from Rehman. And I had absolutely no clue about any of the songs. That's when it hit me. I don't follow the IPL anymore. I had little interest in politics and have very less idea about that now. I might have watched two Indian movies in the last one year or so. And I'm no longer on top of the one thing which I used to be the first to find out - new Bollywood music which is good. I was usually the one forwarding downloaded mp3s to my friends. So the gain in the US pop culture knowledge has come with a price. Not that I'm surprised. I think in my case, I have chosen this and if and when I go back to India, it will change. I don't like being at one place and following the happenings of some place else. Wait, I sort of did that with American pop culture when I was in India. But US is the center of the world, right ? And those sitcoms (& LOST) were good!

Funny story: Somebody at work was talking about the Republican candidates and inevitably Rick Perry came up. I was not part of the conversation but happened to overhear it. I immediately said something on the lines of 'Oh, he was a front runner but kind of shot himself in the foot in the Presidential Debates' and went back to checking on my computer. The girl asked the guy 'What did Perry do?'. And the guy who is born and raised in Texas and now works in Texas pointed to me and said, 'You seem to be more aware of this than me' And no, he was not being sarcastic. It's another story that my knowledge is courtesy Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon.

Almost time for Jay Leno.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Morning

It's 55 degrees and sunny. I roll down the car windows a little on my way to office. The traffic is smooth and so I decide to stop at Panera and get a hazelnut coffee.

There's a beautiful news reporter with her crew setting up the equipment. Will probably talk about the coming of fall weather!

Some days, you just feel good about everything. This seems to be one of those days. I feel like taking a long drive and snap pictures. Maybe I'll do it over the weekend.

Anyway, time to head to office.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

'Last' Weekend

I drifted in and out of sleep throughout the taxi ride from the Meatpacking district to LaGuardia. The overcast sky and the rush of wind through the open rear window providing the perfect company to my thoughts wandering around another unforgettable weekend. The last one of its kind. 

The greatest thing about having a job is getting paid. And so even though I have a HUGE student loan and a smaller but significant car loan in my books, when the opportunity to spend a 3 day weekend with some of  my closest friends came by, the Dallas to NYC trip didn't seem extravagant at all.

Friday night at a bar, Saturday at the US Open culminating with a midnight feast of chicken and rice at 53rd & 6th, Sunday rooftop breakfast with the Brooklyn bridge in the background followed by an Indian lunch and cycling in the Central Park and finally the crazy night of partying and dancing which ended at around four - on Monday morning, the weekend felt too short to be over.
In between all these, there was a deluge of absolute nonsensical conversations (which won't be posted here!), hysterical laughing at the stupidest of jokes (some people won't even call them jokes), talking about touring the world by some and getting back to work by others.

I reached Dallas late in the evening to find that by a miracle of nature the temperature had dropped from 105 to 85. I looked at the forecast and the highest for the week was not even 90! Something to look forward to, I thought. And that's when it sort of made sense. I love having things to look forward to. Travel, meeting people,  even a work meeting late in the week. The sense of anticipation is quite a high. The wait almost as rewarding as the actual occurrence. 
There's more travel and meet ups coming up in the next couple of months. So soon I'll be in anticipation mode again. The settings would be different and so would be some people. It will be a blast, I'm sure.
But last weekend was unique for sure. I'll miss not having an encore.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Songs, Places & People

Even though I think I'm a "musical" guy, I don't listen to a lot of music - like during work or while running on the treadmill. Part of it could be because I don't enjoy putting on headphones. While driving, though, I love it. So much so that I'm willing to say, I need it. I mostly listen to the radio. The zone between unpredictability at one end and the comfort of familiarity (e.g. the Today's Hits  station that each city has) is perfect for me.

Enough of beating around the bush. The reason I wanted to write this post is because with so many songs there are these places and people associated in my head that have become inextricably linked with the songs themselves. Every time a Don't Stop Believin' or Pour Some Sugar On Me or The Scientist or Collide or Coming back to Life or Dust in the Wind plays (I'll stop here, because the list is pretty long!), I invariably end up thinking about those associations. Some go back to the hostel rooms of IIT. Some to the pubs or even my house in Bangalore. Others are more recent and trace their origins to Saturday nights at a certain No. 3 in Charlottesville. Then there are the people with whom you shared the song - singing, listening along with pitchers of beer, dancing or even just sending the mp3 and having a conversation about it.

I don't know how it is with you; but for me, nostalgia is almost always bittersweet. There's the high of having had such a great time and reminiscing about it. And there's also the sense of loss. These songs are part of nostalgia too. 

Fortunately, I've found my staple radio stations in Dallas. Today's Hits, Classic Rock, Alternative New Rock and this station which mixes up everything from a Matchbox 20 to a Bruno Mars. Not surprisingly, a lot of these songs come up during my drive to and from the office. It's a pleasant distraction from the 105 temperatures and occasional traffic on US-75.

P.S. Watched this absolutely riveting movie about street art - Exit Through The Gift Shop. Best thing I've seen in a long time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Starting Again

The absence from this space has been so long that when I logged in today, I found that Google has changed the entire Blogger interface! Like my other hiatuses, this one also has been characterized by an extended period of what I like to call 'eventful living'. Graduation and goodbyes. Travels and transitions. In that order, actually. There have been too many things I've wanted to write about. But the irony is that I don't know how to begin. 

"So where are you from?"

I don't remember if I've written about this earlier, but this is no longer a simple question for me to answer. Sometimes people are more specific (like the girl in the leasing office of my apartment) and ask "So where are you moving from?" Two years ago, when I was introducing myself to the three hundred other classmates, it was easy. Well, easier. Start with India and then ramble a bit about growing up in a small town in Eastern India and then spending time in Delhi and Bangalore. But I realized, some people wanted an easy to remember, 2 second answer. So I stuck with Kolkata or Bangalore.

Since moving to Texas, I mostly say Virginia. And if the conversation goes on for over thirty seconds, I make sure that I put in the 'have been in the US only for two years' part. To which, surprisingly a few say, 'Oh! just two years? Your English is really good!" 
Now, my English has been or less the same as it was when I was in India. Sure I've started to roll the T's and the R's and stretch the A's. Mostly so that people understand me. Not to put on an accent per se. Anyway, I take it as a compliment, say thanks and continue blabbering.

Then there's the occasional encounter with an Indian American or somebody who happens to know more about India that I would think he/she does. So my standard 'I'm from India' leads to a duh!-you-really-thought-I-couldn't-get-that-from-your-accent-and-skin-color look, I laugh awkwardly and proceed to talk about my journey from Kolkata to Bokaro to Delhi to Bangalore. 

Point being, it's not an easy question to answer. Not anymore. 

"What do you think about the US of A?"

This is not as frequently asked. But is probably harder. My answer? I give a very standard one. 
I like it here. I think the social infrastructure is great and makes life easier. Technologically, this country is way ahead. But I miss the spontaneity of India and the fact that I'm far off from my parents and a lot of my friends. Nowadays, I add the fact that how pissed I have been with customer service at most places - from AT&T to car rentals to IKEA and the fact that things work great here when there is no human intervention.
Depending on how long the conversation goes, I talk about how I find it very 'sanitized' here. About not enjoying baseball at all though starting to like American football. About missing being out of touch with cricket and all the festivals back home. And more.

But on a deeper level, what do I think about this country? The two years so far have been tremendous. But how much of it was the cocooned atmosphere of Darden and Charlottesville where everybody is nice and considerate? Then again, a lot of my preconceived perceptions about this place have changed. Some for the better. Some, not so. 

Anyway, I'm curious. To anybody who has been here for a while now and happens to read this blog - what would your answer be? And no, don't start talking about the debt ceiling and White House, please.

"Do you think you would go back to India?"

This is almost invariably asked by my non-Indian Darden friends. It's actually the easiest to answer. Right now, I mean.
I really don't know. I think I want to. But for the next 4-5 years, I've got this student loan to pay. After that, we'll see where things stand.
And it's probably the most honest answer. I mean I find it hard to plan 5 weeks in advance, so how would I know!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Few More Days...

Last Friday, I made my singing debut at Darden as the lead male vocal in 'Darden Lovin', a parody of Summer Nights from Grease. I blanked out on a line too. We also finally got to show our Bollywood Musical to the entire school. They had it as the last video of the 2 hour show. Yes, we did bring the house down and being part of the core group which made it possible will be one of the most satisfying experiences at Darden.
Fittingly, the climax of the show was the last song - Decades of Debt. Inspired by Seasons of Love. And when TB belted out her solo as the rest of us climbed up the stairs on the aisles of the auditorium, it started to sink in. That it was only a matter of few days. That the celebrations were a signal. That all of us were trying to hold on to as many memories as we could.

The next day started at 7:30 AM as I got up and got ready to catch the bus to Foxfield. It ended at No. 3, at 2:00 AM the next morning with 'Don't Stop Believin'. In between there were mimosas, screwdrivers and red wines, pictures and more pictures, lots of laughing and shouting out with friends and of course dancing to 80s music.

The Facebook statues have begun to tell the same story. Of the numbered days all of us have in Charlottesville. Mundane, taken for granted activities like the walk from Ivy Gardens to the school start taking on special meanings as I try to cling on to all that this place has given me over the last 20 months. Listening to acoustic/alternative music on 106.1 The Corner, or the popular hits on 101.9; bumping into familiar faces in restaurants and bars, going out for short drives around the city; knowing that there are always people to dig you out of a spot; making last minute dinner plans because everything is just so close by; talking to professors who are as much friends as mentors - the list can go on for quite some time. There's so much that has happened in such short time. It's fascinating to look back and see how far we have come. 

For me, apart from rolling the P's and the T's to make sure people understood what I was saying, the greatest change has been a heightened sense of awareness. Of myself as well as my surroundings. I've become a little more confident too. 

But I don't want to get into too much of self reflection here. That's always better with a little bit of alcohol and a few friends. The reality is in a few days Darden would be over. And in time we would lose touch with most of the people we have got used to knowing over these two years. There would be newer things to look forward to on one hand and loans to pay back on the other. There would also be reunions and the occasional business trip to a city where you catch up with friends. 

What we had here, though, was special. And as a lot of the faculty and students keep saying - we should remember that it was a privilege, that we are a very unique group who have had most of the gifts of life.