My previous two birthdays were rather forgettable. In 2004, it was on my first week in the US. I had gone to the social security office in the morning. In the afternoon (it was a Friday), I kept my backpack (with my passport and other important documents in it) in my allotted office space and went to my lab. I came back after ~20 minutes and found the bag missing. It was in a locked room but it had an inlet from another room besides it, which was unlocked. I couldnt believe that such things could happen in a University in the US. Then I was told that things do get stolen once a while.
It was a horrendous afternoon, with police entering the picture. I gave up my hope of getting it back and when I was trying to see how to get a duplicate passport, it was a long and expensive procedure, involving the Indian embassy here. It was the worst way of beginning in a new place. I spent the next two days with nightmares day and night.. On the sunday, I got a call from the police that they have found my backpack with everything in it!! The person who stole it obviously thought I had my laptop in it but having found nothing useful, was kind enough to leave it on a bench in a corner of the campus. Thanks to him a million!! Had he, in anger, dumped it in a junkyard....
Next year, in 2005, I decided to make up for the previous year's mishap and so advance-booked for a dinner in an Indian restaurant. In the evening, I decided to go to gym... I had got my driver's license just a week ago, and I was all geared up.. only that, when I returned to my car, I realized that my car key was missing.. Hurried back to gym searching for it, but couldnt find it. Luckily, I had made a duplicate but it was kept at home. So, I went home by bus, took the key and returned to school to pick up the car.. during this, more than an hour was lost.
Very little time for the restaurant to close, so noted down the map route.. it was my first drive in the freeway as well.. then I realized that I took right at the exit instead of left.. In a hurry to get back on the right track, I took such a wild U-turn that the car went to the other side, then crossed the median, came back to the same lane, crossed the side-walk and went into the curb.. All because I was pressing the accelerator like mad while making the turn.. the result? One of the tires was punctured. Fortunately, there was no other vehicle passingby so no other damage.
Then, I took a deep breath, parked it near a gas station and decided to walk to the restaurant. After 1/2 mile of walking outside the city, I just managed to reach the restaurant before the closing time. In the meanwhile, talked to my friend and arranged for the towing of the vehicle to nearest service station. Somehow things went alright that day after the minor accident.
This year, I decided to go to Jersey city for good Indian snacks, movie and nice dinner. Since it was the first visit to the area, some 20 mins went off when I took one wrong turn.. Entry into 'Newark Avenue' (which would look just like any small, busy road in Chennai or Bangalore - only desis) was just around the corner, but thanks to the one-way roads, some time was lost. Had real good snacks, and left for the movie.. only I didnt realize that the multiplex has changed its place.
There were lots of Indians walking around that area but except 1 or 2, nobody knew about the movie hall, which shows 3-4 Indian movies each time. So, I ended up again in a wrong place.. and the 6 PM show was only 2 mins away. There was another show at 7:30 PM but that would mean the dinner plan is gone for a six. Notwithstanding the jinx, I pulled up near a gas station and hurried in to get some help on directions. The owner seemed to be an Indian but his accent suggested otherwise.. The conversation I had with him was interesting..
Since he was explaining me slowly, I, in a frenzy, was intercepting him with the directions. Then he said "Man, you are from India.. but you are behaving like an American.. Listen.. Take a deep breath and think calmly.. Only Americans are always fast fast.. (he enacted panting and heavy-breathing). You Indians are known to be calm and think clearly.. Be an Indian.. Don't be an American..!!".
So, the jinx continues but is surely getting better..