I came across some thoughts I had registered in the past when I first landed in LA. Although they now strike me as naïve when I read them, I am taken back to the happy and sunny days in California. Now I know that at a first glance everything is beautiful, and reality takes time to sink in.
Here is what I thought then:
I remember what my Professor from IIT Bombay said sometime back, when you go Away from Bombay you will realize that any other city will make you feel sleepy and lazy and I think his words are quite true. LA as a city has a pretty laid back lifestyle. People seem to have lots of time on their hands; they’re not in a hurry to do things which is quite contrary to what I expected from LA. Shopkeepers are not in a hurry to give you your goods, or take money from you. People walk at leisure; there are so many people idling at coffee shops.
People always have time to greet you! What struck me when I first walked on Hoover was random people smiling at me. I didn’t know whether they expected me to reciprocate, this was shocking to me. But as I met a third passer-by, I smiled although a bit reluctantly. I liked it; it was cool to smile at anyone and everyone, very strange to someone who just landed from Bombay! There nobody had any time, because life revolved around catching a train or bus on time!
Oh yes, LA has a terrible public transport system. Although the city is well-planned with great, wide roads with a bad public transport system and everything being at right angles, you need to take a minimum of two buses to get from one end of the city to another! It took me close to three hours to go from one place to another, for a distance similar to Dadar to CST, which would merely take half-an-hour in Bombay! That day I swore never to complain about Bombay’s roads or traffic!
But pedestrians here have a lot of importance unlike in India. Any vehicle has to stop 100 metres in advance if they see a pedestrian crossing the road. Also there are fines for J-walking! So if you cross the road when the light is green for the traffic, that’s it! $50 gone to the traffic police!
Although there are security systems, LA is not such a safe place to live. There is hardly anyone walking on the roads after 8pm! I never expected that, considering Bombay wakes up at midnight! LA is notoriously famous for shootings and stuff, so not a 24-hour city.
Although I miss public transport here and traveling beyond 8 pm, the cars and girls here keep me really occupied! Cars are awesome over here. You’d find all kinds of brands from all over the world – Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Toyotas, Hondas and what not. And yes, I found something close to 10 Ferraris on the same street which is called Sunset Boulevard, one of the most posh Streets in LA. I haven’t gone to Hollywood yet but I’ve seen the Hollywood sign though from Sunset Blvd. Apparently entrance fee for just stepping inside Hollywood is 20 USD.
I’ve checked out the beaches too, Santa Monica is near LA. The beach is beautiful, clean and vast, unlike Bombay beaches! I needn’t tell you about girls and bikinis and stuff, you should imagine those yourselves!
About girls here – they’re so gorgeous, you know! The standard wear for girls over here is Minis and Micro minis and everybody seems to be a Hollywood actress! A girl passes by and before you think how beautiful she is, there instantly comes another girl who is better than the first one and this recursive process goes on and on and on! Unfortunately there are hardly any girls in my Masters classes :-(. But girls in the Undergraduate programs are quite hot! Apparently there are parties every day in the sorority homes (that’s where the Undergrads live), and it seems like they really do enjoy their undergraduate years.
USC has an amazingly beautiful campus. Professors are warm, you can call them by their first names! A lot of emphasis is on assignments with very less weightage to end-semester and mid-semester exams. Projects form a major part of the course. You get assignments every class and they’re due the following week. People generally solve problems by themselves. And the courses here are more towards making sure the students learn concepts rather than covering lots of portion. Like my professor over here was amazed that two courses in USC had been covered as just one course at IIT.
IIT has a lot of brand value over here, especially IIT Bombay. Everybody instantly gives you respect as soon as you say you’re from IIT Bombay. But that apart, USC as such is a very costly university, so I advise you guys to not come here if you have to fund yourself on your own. In general, come over here only if you have scholarship or else life becomes miserable. You then have to keep in mind every dollar you spend. If you are working over here, like an RA or TA, you get paid handsomely and instantly you feel like everything is cheap but if you are getting money from India, you tend to convert everything into Rupees and that scares the hell out of most desis over here!
I think I am doing good here so far; soaking in the new courses, new people and the new, vast city! Life is beautiful here, especially if you have funding or scholarship. It is quite sunny today and I am near the Leavey library. It’s HUGE! So while I get back to some books and checking out girls, I shall let you dream about my life here! 🙂