Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hardbound and Huggable

It has almost been a month since I landed in Pittsburgh. I brought with me from Madurai 76 Kilograms of luggage and incredible heat and humidity, to boot. Ever since I came here, I have been moaning about how hot this place is, while people around me smirk and ask me to hold on to my thoughts. Though I know why, I cannot bring myself to believe that Pittsburgh can get cold. It feels as bad as Madurai- the sickly heat and the sweaty aftermath.  I am just getting used to the fact that one has to clean the house by oneself, do the dishes, and assemble every piece of the furniture that gets delivered. I have also been wandering around- figuring out the streets and acquiring a taste for American coffee.

The other stuff to get used to is that one has to pay for coffee. And for food. And heck, even for a soda! My heart bleeds in buckets every time I swipe my card in an infernal machine. I have not paid for a soda in the last three years. Nor for popcorn, and nor for any comestible that the land of magical food offered me for three glorious years. A week before, my friends took me to this Indian place saying that it has one of the best buffets in Pittsburgh. When I stepped into the restaurant, I squawked in despair for the buffet was smaller than the buffet one would get at Google on a Sunday afternoon. I suppose it is safe to assume that my days of rhapsodizing about the heavenly Masala Dosas or the crispy onion pakoras and the infinite pani puris is finally over. I can almost hear my friends, who had to endure my prandial showing off on Facebook, clapping their hands in glee.

I have been waiting for this rush of happiness and emotion ever since I came here. You know, the general introspection, looking back and ahead sort of thing that I tend to do when there are big changes in my life. However, the old heart seems to have turned cold. No amount of rumination, or why, even the gorgeous view of Pittsburgh from Mt.Washington could elicit tender feelings.  I kept wandering by the university store looking at the Carnegie Mellon T-Shirts and the other related paraphernalia which generally possess the ability to kick me up into a state of blissful frenzy. Surprisingly, even a clearance sale on CMU T-Shirts did not have any effect on me. I gave up thinking that I have quite some time ahead to pledge alliance to the Tartans and that the rush of happiness would find its way in the upcoming years.

Today, I happened to go the library. I have always associated college libraries to be these drab buildings filled with outdated Engineering books half of which one was not allowed to borrow.  College libraries reminded me of  moldy dungeons and didn't rank high up in the places I would tend to hang out in. Therefore, I didn't give this library at my university too much of a thought except to go in there to scan/print stuff. Today, I was looking up some books when I stumbled across a whole shelf of Marios Vargas Llosa. This is when I noticed that they had a whole shelf of Gabriel Garcia Marquez too. Around the corner, there were collections from Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth and what not! They had Rushdie, Rowling and almost three shelves of P.G Wodehouse. And this is just the beginning.

All of these books were so resplendent in their regal hardbound covers unlike the cheap flimsy copies that all the libraries my life possessed. This, is the real deal. E-books come and go, but hardbound is forever. Almost. These books are a sheer pleasure to hold and more so to read. I realized that I could borrow about fifty of them at a time (and pretend that I owned them), which is something that I could have never done back in India. I checked out about half a dozen today and came out of the library grinning like a cat. 

I was meaning to go back to my apartment. Instead, I plopped down on the lawn, under a tree, luxuriously stretching my legs and have been reading under the August morning sun ever since. Just as I started writing this, I thought it would be appropriate to mark the occasion of feeling peaceful for the first time in ages, with a photo of the huge sunny lawn that lay across me. Very instagramable memory, I must say.

Somehow my faith in goodness, life and the immense possibilities that it beholds, has been restored.