Wednesday, September 12

60 days and ticking

60 days are over. Was on 4th of July 2007 that we landed in Dallas FortWorth Airport.

Getting settled. After a month, moved to a house. After a gap of 8 years, staying in an independent house again. The sight of squirrels, the chirping of birds and the hopping wild hares bring back the memories of early days in Kalamassery. There is but no kids coming out to play in the evening. The nearby park has been an attraction for kids. And the unlimited checkout from the city library. In past one month, kids have mugged up more than 100 books. I thought backyard would be a good attraction for them. But they prefer indoors. They says theres more space inside than in the backyard. And Dallas heat is terrible. They say its a cool summer this year! Thanks to the rains in Jul and now again in Sep.

On Aug 15 I started behind the wheel of my own car. My own - no loans. Drivers license is a big step here. No Drivers license? You really you? For many Americans, DL is THE identity card. Passport? Whats that? Oh, ok, let me check with my boss if that can be accepted as a proof of identity. So it goes. Now I am better off.

Driving is not bad. 35 min one side. I dont use freeways. And I use a slower road of 35mph speed limit. Cool drive listening to FM radio. The news and talk shows. Get to know a good lot of contemporary stuff. Starting with Dianne Reem show in the morning to All things considered on 90.1FM. The Hillary Clinton - Obama duels. The Katrina stories. Bush and war hate stories. The Iraq stories. Not just for the news. But for the language. The English in America is not the same English we have in India. This sounds all the way different. From the unvoiced Ps and the cutting Cs, the lengthening that reflects the ending of a word (quick nap vs a prolonged na...b), the rhythm to be embedded into every word to the rhythm that connects the parts of speech. Some are quite simple that at least I had overlooked. I never knew it makes so much of a difference between the sounds of w and v. But it is indeed sad that Americans dont know that English has been formed by distorting the original pronunciation of words from other languages. They might find me making mistake when I say guru. My accent trainer is fair in that. She never says right or wrong. She says American way and Indian way. And some are British way.

Facilities - not bad. Don't compare with Japan. Thats like comparing a PC with a Mac. Here you get a choice PC. You can choose the hardware, choose the OS and choose the apps. What you realize finally is that you are running on an Intel no matter what you did. Thats where you would appreciate a Mac. You bought home the machine. You had less choices. Yes, less choices. Jobs has decided everything for you. And you trust him. Thats what you want - a system you can trust. Not an option from the garbage. No wonder why Japan is costly. Again thats why democracy does not always deliver. And a good autocrat is the best option. The American democracy will go nuts if the President is not given so much autocratic power.

Folks back in India have a lot of appreciation of the American system. I don't say it is totally unfounded. But if someone takes US and India, strip off what both has built up so far and then put back again on a level playing field, I doubt the American dream remains dream for a longer term. At least thats what the Katrina example demonstrated and still demonstrating. With all the might and technology and the lessons from a huge human catastrophe at the Asian Tsunami, the American machinery could not work to get the people out of New Orleans. They were left to have their own choices. But the options were limited. Many had between life and death. For those who chose the former, a new set of options came - in the form of hunger and robbery. And this continues even now. One of the reporters goes on the radio that the local government is "anywhere between total incapability and non-existence". She is referring to the situation two years after the storm hit. A good vehicle is not the one which can just keep moving at high speeds. It is the one which can slow down when needed, and can restart after a complete stop.

"People" are calling for change. There are only two kinds of people again. Democrats and Republicans. The choice of the ruler for the longest run democracy comes from a choice between these two people. Anyway this time both these groups are calling for a change. Change in what? Not sure if republicans are serious about the next Presidency. The race at this time has come down between Obama and Hillary for the prelims. Both of them says change too. Hillary wants to "bring the experience" that she gained during her days as the first lady. (remember those days of impeachments and references to "that lady" and the Lewinsky tapes? she must have had a great experience for sure) And Obama wishes to bring the change from outside. He defends by offending Hillary's experience. He accepts not to have the experience Washington looks for, but he claims to have what America wants. I did not see anyone promising to put New Orleans back into life. America is not a peoples republic. It is a corporate republic.

Life is settling in. The texas summer is soon to leave for another 9 months. Ramadan is back in a week. What did I gain in last one year? What did I deliver?