Saturday, May 12, 2007

Noo dunno nothin' about it

This is an old photo and as you all know that Corzine is the present governor who had a horrible accident last month and is now convalescing.

New Jersey gets such a bad rap from the rest of the country. When I got a job here, I used to be teased by quite a few of my classmates from grad school that I will be moving to “The Garbage State” instead of “The Garden State.” I think this phrase is due to the industrial sites located close to New York, which are such a part of the landscape of North Jersey. I chose to work here because there are quite a few urban planning initiatives in this State (after California). I hate writing anything about my work or profession on this blog as it is supposed to be irreverent and a platform to pen my thoughts. Besides I am not really all that smart to have anything intelligent to say or write and I don't want any of my readers to know that.

Anyway I had to work this Saturday morning. I know it sucks but it is a choice I have made so I am not going to complain at all. I had to drive to South Jersey for a meeting. As per Mapquest I could have taken two interstates but instead of following a route that is like the two sides of a triangle, I preferred to take the diagonal, which were two County roads. Who knew that the boring elementary school geometry would have such practical applicability? Anyway I woke up early in the morning and drove a total of 100 miles. At this time I could go on about lack of public transit and the environmental costs of driving but then again I really don’t want to bore anyone with all this nonsense.

It was a beautiful morning and was such a wonderful drive; I passed a winery, few farms, stalls selling fresh produce, horse farms, lush green expanse of lands and then the beautiful New Jersey Pineland areas. South Jersey is such a contrast to North Jersey. The people are lot friendlier, laidback and also drive very slowly, which can be annoying especially when you have to reach on time and have to follow a Sunday driver on a two lane highway, waiting for the two solid yellow lines to become a single dashed line! A lot of people were on their bicycles and from their overall appearance seemed like serious riders. Although there are road signs, you have to pay close attention in order to not miss your turns.

Last month I went to that part of Jersey for the first time with my coworker. He came along with me to introduce me to the people as I am a brand new addition to this company. We decided to drive together in my car and I had taken all the directions and maps. Since I was behind the wheel, I told him that I preferred taking the back roads and that he might want to navigate. We had never spoken to each other during office hours so were more like nodding acquaintances. We started chatting and found that we had a lot of things in common. We were so engrossed in our conversations that both of us missed a turn and got lost and landed up middle of nowhere but had so many maps in my car that we managed to reach our destination albeit five minutes earlier than the scheduled time! We had nicknames for all the landmarks we missed, which were basically a WAWA, a WAWA with a gas station and then a strip mall. I must say Suburbia is a curse that New Jersey hasn’t been able to shake off.

This time, I was by myself and I was very conscious of my skin color in a homogenous white population, so I didn’t want to get lost and hear “Them foreigners don’t know no American roads.” I am just joking; no one ever said that to me. However I have been told this by someone, “Them foreigners with their fancy education come and take our jobs.” Yes, this was said to me four years ago by a burly man with a mullet, a tattoo, flannel shirt, jeans and BO that was accumulated due to weeks of not bathing! I wanted to laugh out loud at the comment but was too scared that he might just punch me in my face. Instead I pretended to not understand no English and needless to say that I am alive to write this post! Anyway I didn’t get lost today and had a wonderful drive as I knew from my previous experience at which Wawa to go through the light and at which WAWA to make a turn to the right.

For some reason this reminded me of the time that K, his friend A and I had taken a road trip to the Southern part of India. We went through all the inside routes of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where the milestones were in Telugu and Kannada respectively. Of course none of us spoke any of those languages and none of the villagers spoke any Hindi (India's national language), Marathi (language pertaining to the State of Maharashtra where we belong) or English. Yet we found our way around with them pointing furiously to the left and telling us, “Go right and then straight sir.” I must add that we knew one sentence in Telugu, “Bhassha iley,” which means we don’t speak the language. Of course K knew quite a few colorful phrases which were generously bestowed on the bus drivers and truck drivers depending on the license plates of the vehicles. At that time I looked at my husband with renewed awe because I did know that he could speak quite a few Indian languages but I didn’t know until then that he could cuss….not to mention the fact that he could cuss in so many different languages!