'Akhil's heart was thumping away like a Mahindra tractor'
We bring you an exclusive extract from Atulya Mahajan's book Amreekandesi: Masters of America.
Blogger-turned-author Atulya Mahajan's Amreekandesi: Masters of America is a hilarious, yet poignant account of two fresh-off-the-boat students -- Akhil and Jassi -- dying to soak in as much of America as possible.
Documenting the ordeals, quirks and preoccupations of young students who migrate to the US to further their careers, Amreekandesi follows in on the footsteps of Anurag Mathur's The Inscrutable Americans.
The book traces the journey of Akhil and Jassi from their middle class homes in New Delhi and Punjab respectively to Florida State University (FSU) and everything interesting that takes place in-between.
With kind permission from Random House, we bring you this excerpt from the chapter titled Fresh off the Boat in which Akhil's father decides to take a walk in the university campus.
Akhil checked the time in his watch.
'Dad, what's wrong? It is just 7.'
The smile on Mr Arora's face grew wider. The last time Akhil had seen him this happy was when he had heard of his sworn enemy and lifelong competitor Bhallaji's son getting a campus job that paid half of Akhil's annual package.
'I made a new friend today. An American friend.'
As a bewildered Akhil rubbed his eyes trying to gain consciousness, Mr Arora started reciting his story. 'I woke up at 5. There was nothing to do, so I thought I would go out and get some fresh air. I crossed the road and walked for a little bit and came across a nice road with lots of lawns and flowers. I think it was your university. The buildings were old and had red brick exteriors that reminded me of Delhi University's North Campus. The place was deserted, but suddenly I saw a tall, strongly built man with a bald head and green eyes come jogging towards me. As he passed me, he waved and said "Hello, how are you doing?" Strangely, he did not even stop to hear my answer.'
'Now Akhil, if a nice man asks a question, I can't be rude and not answer. Maybe he thought that I was not going to reply which was why he kept going. I was so embarrassed. I am not rude, everybody knows that.'
'So I ran behind him. However, he was fast. Finally I managed to catch up with him, but I was out of breath by then.'
'I then shook his hand, said "Hi" and answered "I am doing fine, thank you for asking."'
'He smiled at me, but I think he was confused. I thought of making some more conversation, and told him that I was feeling a little constipated. I also told him that I couldn't sleep well last night, as the air-conditioner was very cold,' Mr Arora continued.
'At this he started laughing loudly, but Akhil, is it my fault if the airline food gave me constipation? You tell me?'
Akhil's jaw had dropped to the floor. He was seeing a new side of dad this week. Back home, he had been a drab person who had over the years talked to Akhil only when there was need to praise or scold him. Mostly the latter. Mr Arora went on. 'We then sat on a bench and had a nice long talk. I forget his name. It was something with a 'd'. David? No, Douglas. I can't remember, and what's in a name anyway.
He said he is a professor in the university. He is a very nice guy—jovial and fun loving. He told me a lot of stories about his students and the kind of things they do.'
Akhil was stunned. 'What department, dad? Tell me he is not in the Computer Science department. Oh God.'
'I don't know, Akhil. I will meet him again tomorrow. I will check then.'
Akhil's heart was thumping away like a Mahindra tractor gone wild. Dad got up and rubbed his stomach. 'Okay I think I will have my motions now. Your mother's trick always works. Tea.'
Akhil sank back into his bed in horror as his dad went to complete his unfinished business.
Excerpted from Amreekandesi: Masters of America by Atulya Mahajan with kind permission from Random House India, (Rs 199)
Image: Amreekandesi: Masters of America