Comfortably Numb...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lost in Transition

Oh No!! It is that time of the year again, my old lease has run out and I need to vacate or risk being evicted unceremoniously from my cozy perch. Two years of cushy existence in this apartment have anesthetized my senses to the travails of shifting/moving! I had relegated those painful memories to the melancholic sections of my mind, those sorry archives I revisit only during extreme duress. So, it is with a heavy heart that I now peruse through those despondent chapters, looking for that episode ensconced amongst my most depressing moments in life. My distant memories of being “Lost in Transition”…

What do I do now?? The swanky one-bedroom pad that I so meticulously chose for my last year of grad school existence is still a distant fortnight away… I am now forced to partake in this annual campus town ritual of brute-forcing myself into an unwilling friend’s premises for the time-being! There exist a few popular strategies that I can choose from to secure a habitat during this thorny period of homelessness. I shall try to list these “life-saving” strategies in the following paragraphs …
[I shall refer to the original lessees of the apartment who will stay on and not be involved in this painful act of transition as “original owners” and the unfortunate souls who seek refuge as the “refugee friends” in the following sections]

- Strategy #1: Subtle means of extortion, involving unctuous acts of servitude. This usually involves involuntary offers from the refugee friends to cook, clean dishes, and share utility bills with the original owners. This tactic can be sensed by a sudden and inexplicable metamorphosis of the refugee friends into amicable samaritans.

- Strategy #2: Bargaining for a free-stay in exchange for all those worthless acts of generosity that the refugees ‘kindly’ chose to shower on their ‘friends’ in the not-so-recent past (Those golden times when each of the parties involved had a distinct mailing address listed as per INS regulations!). This tactic is generally characterized by unnatural acts of bonding and ‘hanging out’ with the original owners around 2-3 weeks before the original period of transition. A sudden spike in the frequency of inordinate and unconditional offers of drinks/meals/refreshments during casual night outs is generally observed.

- Strategy #3: Blackmailing your friend with fictitious memories of friendship and cloyingly sweet episodes of fun and frolic. This tactic is characterized by melodramatic antics of the refugees and a heightened sense of apathy amongst the original owners. This tactic results in exchanges that are rather awkward for the parties involved but supremely entertaining for the neutral observers. A protracted exchange between the parties can begin to resemble afternoon soaps on the Indian satellite channels!

- Strategy #4: Imposing one’s seniority on a defenseless junior. A brutal and unpopular technique that generally renders the prey (i.e. the original owners) defenseless! Any hint of resistance is quashed by reproachful renditions of past generosity by the “senior” refugees. This tactic is an antithesis to the fact that the proto-typical “Senior-Junior” relationship is merely a vestigial custom, with vague connotations to college days in India.

- Strategy #5: Brandishing family contacts/relationships that would put proficient genealogists to shame. Typical exchange between the parties would be along these lines:

Refugee: “Hi Machi, you remember X? Your cousin who was 8 years your senior and went to ABC Univ? His roomie during grad study was my uncle’s wife’s brother’s close friend from LKG da! Wat an amazing coincidence that we know can get to be roommies for a few weeks na?”

O Owner: “Oh really? Strange coz’ I didn’t even know X existed till you kindly chose to enlighten me with a juicy snippet from your eventful family’s past!”

Refugee: “Seriously da machi…it is indeed a small world! History does repeat itself”

O Owner: “Yea rite! Tell me all abt it! (Sigh)”

- Strategy #5.b: A subset of this tactic would be reference to classmates/friends who had a common friend/ lived in the same street/ played in the same park/ went to the same IIT coaching class etc etc. This is a superb example of utilizing your opportunistic kinship and renewing bonds that you wouldn’t have dreamt of serving a useful purpose this far down the line!

So, the battlelines are drawn and strategies chosen/imposed by both parties involved. Unfortunately, there exists a considerable mismatch between the populations of the two parties involved. The refugees tend to outnumber the original owners by astronomic proportions. The kind of mismatch that exists between the population of single guys with “cool, fun-loving” profiles and the population of ‘homely’ girls with a “single/unmentioned” profile status in Orkut!

It is a curious dynamic that engulfs campus-towns during this period of strife. Unwilling owners are forced to accommodate flocks of desperate refugees, mostly out of compulsion and involuntary emotional blackmail. Boxes of cutlery and grocery supplies are crammed into non-existant nooks n crannies. Sleeping bags, wet towels and dirty laundry piled onto unsuspecting bedrooms and living rooms. Office and lab spaces notice an alarming spurt of suitcases and irrelevant cardboard boxes. Humanity teems out of every square footage of real estate available, while the new apartments are being cleaned, washed and readied for their new tenants. It is a state of uneasy truce, a dynamic state of equilibrium that cannot be explained even by the most profligate of mathematicians.

I now step into this unfortunate state of transition with mixed emotions. An unfortunate victim of my fate, having to revert to strategies I would have otherwise found unworthy of my dignity and chivalry! I hope it is as transient as a flight to India, visions of the Promised Land allowing you to grin and bear the torture. I shall indulge in fantasies of clean bathrooms, freshly laundered clothes and acres of space to help me tide over this dark and tempestuous period of persecution. I shall announce grandiose plans of my “house-warming” party to help assuage the feeling of abomination that is festering in my host’s hearts. I shall seek to live an unobtrusive grad student existence and maximize my time spent in my lab (although that would cause needless suspicion and anxiety in my advisor’s mind!!).

As wishful and impossible as this might sound …I shall not let the eternal optimism in me simmer down! I strongly urge all of my fellow calamitous souls (who are subjected to this sadistic ritual annually) to share my vision! Arise, Awaken and Bend not your vertebrae to this unfortunate occurrence, smile and set forth on a wondrous journey of discovering the body rhythms, quirks and personal habits of new-found friends! After all, it is testing times like this that make us a stronger person, right??

P.S. [Oh God!! I need to use the restroom NOW…but alas I am only third on the queue!!] Have a wonderful summer if you live in your “own apartments (all by yourself that is)” and forget not that we will inhabit our Promised Land sometime soon!


  • For once, you're neither comfortable, nor can afford to be numb. Get out, get moving! Nice blog...

    By Anonymous Shankar, at 1:40 PM, August 08, 2006  

  • you can come to D.C for a fortnight!!

    By Blogger piggy, at 8:48 PM, August 09, 2006  

  • @ Shankar: Well, yeah! I shall ship my ass asap indeed. Thanx for dropping by and do make it a habit! ;)

    @ Piggy: Thanx da...I really wish I cud plan a trip to DC/Maryland real soon. I can't wait to be fotographed in from of the White House with a Striped t-shirt, madichified Lungi over knee-length shorts, rolled up kerchief and a beedi man! ;)

    By Blogger Sandeep M, at 1:01 PM, August 11, 2006  

  • Hey Sandeep...
    it was hilarious man!I should admit,you write gr8 stuff:)
    One more week and I hope u'll b feeling better:)
    Luckily, my new landlord has agreed for an early movein:)
    hope to see u around!

    By Anonymous karthik, at 3:15 PM, August 11, 2006  

  • Am I invited for the house-warming pahteeee???

    By Anonymous Harini, at 3:56 PM, August 11, 2006  

  • @ Karthik: Thank you sir! Appreciate your kind evaluation of my blogs...Please do dropping by whenever you get time.

    @ Harini: Hmmm...My guest list for the Housewarming Party needs some meticulous introspection!! Lets see if u make it! :p

    By Blogger Sandeep M, at 11:22 AM, August 13, 2006  

  • LOL!
    Ur strategy no 5 will work wonders. Good luck mate.

    By Blogger Gil T. Azell, at 9:33 PM, August 16, 2006  

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