Where have I been?!

Hi.

Not a peep from me for about a month. Where have I been? My readers, who usually would like nothing better than for me to shut up for a while, have been increasingly clamouring for an explanation for this most unusual silence from me. Strangers have accosted me on the streets: “Why hasn’t your blog been updated?” Cranks have called me up on my cell phone, my land line; my email inbox is flooded with messages from the same puzzled junta asking the same questions, and National Television is doing an investigative series on why rahulgaitonde.org has been lying untouched for all of April. A conspiracy theory is being constructed which links the silence on my blog to the arrest of the Shankaracharya, the upcoming session of Parliament, and the worsening power crisis in Maharashtra.

Enough said. Today, I shall lift the curtain, finally, on this dark secret.

I have attended an IBM Academy of Technology Conference at the T. J. Watson Research Center in New York. I presented a paper that I and my colleague Pallavi wrote. I am not at liberty to disclose what it was exactly that I did at the Conference, but then you wouldn’t be too interested in that. Nothing much apart from a LOT of techie-talk and techie-techie-hobnobbing, duscussing hypothetical solutions for even hypothetical-er problems. But that’s what happens at all conferences, right?

I did, however, have a fun week in the USA, where my most significant (non-IBM-confidential) activity was exploring the island of Manhattan. Have I got a lot to tell you guys!

Actually, there were some very typical reactions from the people around me when I returned. Surprisingly, more people were disappointed than happy:

The old granny in the next wing was very downcast when she observed that I had not grown taller, thinner and had not become any fairer. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could end up with a pink-and-white schoolgirl complexion after eight days in the U.S.?

Aunty next door insisted that I had found a Girl while I was there. She wanted to know her name, whether she was Indian or not, if she was vegetarian, and when I was going to get married. Talk about getting ahead of oneself! Very disappointed when she realised that my emphatic, then pleading, and finally indifferent NOes were actually true.

Friends wanted to know I had ‘met’ any ‘sexy babes’ in the U.S. Since my answer to that was ‘No’, the painfully obivious, predictable, uncomfortable sequence of follow-up questions were not asked of me. Thankfully. Older Gujju friends wanted to know how much I had earned, in ‘Amreeki dollarz’. Immediately followed up by an inpromptu, totally unasked-for Finance Tips session.

Some friends, already legends for their conspiracy theories, lived up to their reputation by insisting that I had found a job in the U.S. when I was there. The only way these guys will be convinced of the contrary is when they find me at IBM months later, sitll working as diligently as before the U.S. trip.

Then the usual taunts, supposedly richly sarcastic and full of wit (ugh!), about Rupees v/s Dollars, whether I could tolerate drinking water or the weather here anymore, left-hand drive, how my colloquial language has changed (my God, where’d they get that one from?!), and other inane ones I’d rather not waste time and space enumerating here.

Anyways, I have written a lot during my travel and suring my stay there. I’ve edited the documents, cutting out the parts which pertain to Internal IBM Information. For your reading pleasure, dear readers, here is a first-hand account of my first trip to a foreign land. Enjoy!