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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Diary of an inquisitive teen- Delhi to DC- Akash

New Delhi, India
August 11, 2014


Life is standing at a critical turn and the reminiscent of ‘The road not taken’ by Robert Frost dawns on me.

“Two Roads diverged in the yellow wood  
  And I- I chose the one less traveled by.”
Well, as a matter of fact, I don’t know if it’s going to make a big difference in my life or not. But, good or bad, it’s going to be an experience. This year is not just going to be a year, but “my life in a year”. I have done something off-track and I am proud of it.
At the time when my inner fire was going out, this opportunity came to rescue and the fire inside this creative cat was rekindled even at a greater pace. I was chosen as the youth ambassador of India to the United States on YES program sponsored by the Department. Thanks to AFS (the recruitment and placement organization) & YES, now I really know where my passion really lies.
AFS Gateway Orientation at New Delhi

We (The group of 33 individuals accompanied by our ever-charming AFS Coordinator Sonam Mam) are all set to bid a goodbye to India- our beloved motherland, “the cradle of human civilization” in the words of Mark Twain. The bus is waiting and here I am, diving in the thoughts which seem to traverse the infinite. “Hmmm….Sweets! Sweets!” Having sweets before a travel is a sign of good omen in the mystically beautiful Indian tradition. In no time, we are at the airport. Separation brings love at times- the whole set of my mates turning nationalist at the instant and shouting “Vande Matram” (Mother India, I salute to thee) at the top of their voices is a live testimonial of the saying. 




The best wishes from the AFS team is instilling a sense of responsibility & after a while’s wait, the United Airlines UA083 flight takes off to the voyage of our dreams from the New Delhi airport to land the next morning (even 16 hours journey is just a night’s journey because of the huge time difference) at the Newark airport in New Jersey.

                            

 

Mesa, Arizona, USA
September 30, 2014


It has been about a month and a half since I came here. There was a lot to do & despite of the heart’s urge to jot down the memoirs has proved to be futile. But, I assure myself that I’ll maintain my journal from now on. A large amount of water has flown in the Ganges (or Mississippi) during this period & nearly the same amount of events have taken place in my life. So where was I? Yes, We reached Newark & than to Washington DC by bus. The journey which started from the capital of the largest democracy in the world has ended in the capital of the oldest modern democracy of the world. There is a solid reason behind the use of “modern” while referring to the US as the oldest democracy. The reason is that even Democracy is an Indian brainchild. The oldest democracy - the Vaishali republic, again in India & not far from my house. dates back to the sixth century BC. In this column, I’d try to give you a rough comparison & contrast of the American & Indian society and culture. 


So, yes, I was in Washington DC & there we had had a huge gathering of student ambassadors from several countries assembled at the Hilton hotel & ready to represent their country & culture in the US society. Meeting such wonderful people from across the globe was fun. It was really a huge opportunity to learn from each others culture & discovering some astonishing facts. 

I even met some girls of Indian origin who were representing South Africa. Their forefathers had left home in the colonial period to work on African farms or so. Exchanging the currency with one of those girls was really unforgettable. The Indian Rupee with Gandhi over it & the South African Rand with Mandela over it- we exchanged the tradition of the great souls who showed the world a peaceful way of demonstrating anger & protest, non-violence- appealing directly to the conscience of the adversary. 


The food at Hilton the first day- all the Indians were terrified. “Is it what we are going to eat the whole year? God forbid!” But the second day came with a culinary advantage. One of the Indian cooks of the hotel (Indians are spread everywhere on the planet!) cooked Indian food & he cooked it terribly well. The appetite of each one of us got inflated in an instant & we had a big, big feast. So, that was Washington DC. 


On August 14, I flew to Phoenix only to have another orientation program. So, orientation after orientation from Delhi to DC and now in Phoenix but believe me I was never sick of them because of the charming AFSers. But What I waited for was a meet with my host family, the people with whom I was going to spend my next 10 golden months. The Phoenix orientation was yet another lesson meeting guys and girls from the Scandinavian countries with broader mindsets & a huge rift in personality, thoughts & opinions. But what I remembered was the golden mantra of Intercultural learning “No two cultures are better or worse, they are just different.” The excitement hit the climax when I finally met a girl from Pakistan, India’s neighbor as well as undeclared & “so-called” arch-rival. We were the only ones who could talk in the same language & we talked a lot on the perceptions of people in our countries. It was August 15, the independence day of India & all the exchange students from different parts of the world celebrated it for me. It was a moment of sheer joy & pride undoubtedly. I’ll resume from my experience here in Mesa in the next column.
                             
Wait, let me cover two big international headlines which have something to do with India. So, the first thing is that India became the first nation to succeed in its maiden voyage to Mars! Indian Space Agency- ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission Mangalyaan created history marking India as one of the space- superpowers! It took just one-tenth money of a common mars probe & is even cheaper than the budget of Hollywood movie 'Gravity'! India thus joined the elite club of 3 other space entities, USA, Russia & European Union to have a mars mission! 


The second news is of a man once denied US Visa getting a rock star reception at the Madison Square Garden, New York as 18000 Indian-Americans poured their heart out for welcoming ‪Indian Prime Minister‎ Narendra Modi in America! More than 30 US lawmakers were testimony to the pomp & show of the occasion. He also addressed around 60000 American youth at the central park with Hugh Jackman! He met with president Obama at the white house and both the leaders talked about global issues & even wrote a joint article for The Washington Post.The upcoming years are likely to envisage growing Indo-US ties.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article or any suggestions regarding it, mail me at akashmanofsky@gmail.com 
 India’s first online bilingual magazine by students www.jeevanmag.com
 For my other articles, visit akash.jeevanmag.com 

Also in the series:
Life of an inquisitive teen 2: http://www.jeevanmag.com/2014/11/diary-of-inquisitive-teen-life-in-america.html

(Image Credits: Google Images, Nisarg Shah, Mandar Shah, ISRO & Getty images)

(Akash Kumar is the Editor-in-chief of JeevanMag.com 
A Senior grader at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona (USA), he is India's youth ambassador to US on a Department of State program. He hails from Motihari, Bihar, India.)
This article was also published in The Groves Report, a newspaper in the United States- http://issuu.com/timespub/docs/groves-full-1114/13?e=8633901/10026604


And, was featured on the official YES website of US government-
http://yesprograms.org/impact/story/taking-road-less-traveled-american-experience

1 comment :

  1. I don’t know how should I give you thanks! I am totally stunned by your article. You saved my time. Thanks a million for sharing this article.

    ReplyDelete

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