So you have gotten admission to a US university for a MS/PhD. Great job dude. What follows are the real survival tips that you, a desi Indian male graduate student, will need to know in order to have a fruitful social life here in US. You will not find this in any study guide or counseling class . However if for some reason, you wish to lead a frustrated life wallowing in self-pity and loathing then this is not for you. For the rest, read on.
1. Have Realistic Expectations: Forget what your mom told you. The single white female is not waiting here with her web spun with the express intention of ensnaring you with her wiles. No matter how much you want to be trapped. Life in US is not spring break in Cancun as you saw on MTV—-thou shall never get to party on the sandsâ€¦..spring break will be the time you shall be catching up on your assignments and programming projects.
2. Wild Parties in USA: Inherently tied up to Point Number 1. A desi graduate student party is vastly different from the undergraduate dorm parties you dreamt of and you will see “firangs” having. Your parties can be wild of course but not in the pleasant sense of the term. There will be about 15-20 guys who will sit on the couch (and the floor) basically looking at each other with nothing to do and nothing much intelligent to say. The girls who will come (if at all ) shall leave early because they have a call from India coming. They will usually have nothing stronger than a beer. Then it is all upto you guys—-get drunk, puke, abuse each other, watch some optically hued movies——basically the same thing that you did back in India during a hostel party when you were an undergrad. Nothing special about USA there. Do not expect great things. Else frustration awaits.
3. Start Early: Yes we all know it. All of us have felt it. Away from home in US lonely ..our mind turns towards the opposite sex—-ie females. Desi females to be precise. But one thing you should never forget and that is the law of supply and demand. There will be few of them and more of you. In other words a whole lot of competition. So a first step is to start early in the game. When you are coming to the US, scour the mailing lists for attractive names—try to schedule your journey together so that both of you are at the same European stop over for a few hours (try to go the HumTum way minus the kiss). Remember that once you alight on the shores of USA, the Indian graduate student association hounds will swoop down on the female population picking up their luggage, driving them to housing, taking them to groceries and in general try to ingratiate themselves with the ladies as much as they can. They shall have their own vehicles thereâ€¦you shall have none. So try to wrest the advantage as early as possible.
4. Learn To Cook : I am sure your mother gave you this advice. So am I but for a different reason. The way to a graduate Indian ladies heart is through her stomach. I have seen this time and again—–the best way to meet girls is to cook every night and call them over. Make different things everyday—girls do not like the same thing every night (food that is) and if you get monotonous or take your eye of the ball then she can just go to another desi rasoi ..sorry graduate student’s house.
5. Learn to Drive: You cannot survive in USA without having your own vehicle and driving. Cannot survive socially that is. In order to keep your social life active frequent drives to the grocery are a must. Also essential are trips to the mall, the Indian store, the 10 o’clock screening of Swades and oh of course to the train station and/or airport. Dropping her off at her uncle’s place in New Jersey counts for bonus points.
6. Be Careful of Chatting: For the socially challenged, bad cooks and lousy drivers this is the easy way out. Create an id like nystud2k4 and prowl the chat rooms with an “a/s/l” on your fingers. While people have been known to get lucky by following this path, it is fraught with land mines. Most of the people (almost all) the people in the chat rooms are guys like yourself including the ones who say they are 22/female/Indiaâ€¦..for some strange reason when guys do not “get” girls they start pretending to be girls perhaps in an attempt to feel empowered , at least in the cyber world. Whatever maybe the dark motivation, be reconciled to the fact that the person you are exchanging sweet nothings (or even steamier stuff) with is a man. And pray that it is not someone who you know from college——–else be prepared to have your innermost secrets and fantasies broadcast on your college alumni mailing group. In conclusion, if there is anything in the cyber world which seems too good to be true then it usually is.
7. Lead the Community: As mentioned before , the desi graduate student leaders always get a head start in the game by virtue of getting all the right mails from the right people. So in case you missed Point No 2 then make up for it the next year. Needless to say, ladies like leaders.
8. Be Careful Of How You Are Perceived: The kiss of death for your romantic pursuits vis a vis a particular lady is for her to consider you a “rakhi brother”—–rakhi brothers are people who have been defeated but decorated for their attempt—–a kind of Param Vir Chakra without the glory. Avoid it like the plague.
9. Act Refined: Think coolâ€¦think Bond. Even if you like to drink till you drop, act temperate. If you like to hum “Tere Baap Ko Maine Dekha Bandra Station” say you like Jagjit Singh and Carnatic music. If you adore N Sync and Britney Spears, swear by Guns N Roses and Black Sabbath. You get the pictureâ€¦
10. Always Be Positive: You will win some and lose mostly. But the trick is always to extract the positive and see it as a process of learning. Which is why you are here in the first place. Let me conclude with a story of mine—when I was a second year PhD I took a programming intensive course with a bunch of freshly arrived ladies from India—and no that was not the motivation. The word had gone around (with some help from yours truly) that I was good at programming. The course needed a knowledge of C++ as a pre-requisite —-a language that the girls did not know. Neither did I but when one of the girls, whom I had a fancy for, came and asked me to help her with C++, I pretended to know it inside and out and offered to do an intro session next day evening. That entire night and the whole day I sat with Stroustrup ( the C++ Bible) in hand learning C++ myself, doing practice problems—-I have never learnt so fast as I did in those magical 24 hours. The next evening the girl concerned attended my session and the day after next she dropped the course. She was soon going around with someone else but no that’s not the point. The point is that I had learnt C++ in 24 hours—–there was no way of God’s earth I could have learnt it that quickly otherwise. So what do I care if she was gone, I still had my C++ ! It was indeed the start of a “beautiful friendship”.