Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Back from the Aggieland!

I was in College Station - Home of the Aggies, XII man, fighting Texas A&M football team and home to million other sobriquets, last weekend for university recruitment. It is 6 years since I had been to Texas A&M University. So, I was looking forward to visiting all our favorite hangouts, to meeting my Professors and my colleagues. More importantly I was preparing to eat the hell outta Freebirds Burrito! For the uninitiated, "Beat the Hell outta _fill_your_university_here_" is the official slogan for all the Football games in which TAMU partake. This slogan is displayed in any and every LED scroller all over the campus. Freebirds is a burrito shop that twisted this slogan shrewdly in their commercials. You wouldn't have a burrito like Freebirds burrito anywhere else on the planet - I guarantee :)

I flew into Houston and drove from there to College Station. I forgot about the toll in the Sam Houston Beltway. I got only 20 dollar bills and the toll was just a dollar twenty-five. I practised my sorry face and mentioned to the toll collector about the fact that I dont have change. "No problem", the toll collector said and while he patiently counted the eighteen dollars and seventy five cents change to give back to me, I tried reading the name from his name tag to thank him. The name was hidden under his collar and so I asked him what his name was. "Saym sir! Like Haym with green yeggs! Not that I particularly like green yeggs.. but the name is Saym". I thanked Sam profusely and drove on. Used to paying the highway thieves in the Bay area close to $3 a gallon, I was so glad to see $1.90 a gallon in the pumps. It is good to live in the land of the President. There were banners on the highway advertising 4000 square feet homes from the lower $200 thousands. Hmmm.. Man!!!

I wandered through the campus taking snapshots of all the off campus residences. Lot of memories rushed towards me. The road I used to walk - in winter, in rain and in simmering summer, Nagle Street, still looked the same - with the potholes and all. I drove all the way till the only desi store in town - Aggie Kwik. The cigarettes, cheap liquors and the books of questionable reputation were all in the same place as they were 6 years back. Surely change is not the only constant in this hamlet :). Northgate - the downtown College Station, is always mired in controversy. While this is a neat little place where students congregate to hang out and quench their thirst at places like Fitzwilly's, "Hole in the wall" and more, there is always a stigma associated with Northgate. This is where the international students get beaten up - with bare hands and beer bottles. That situation hasn't changed either. I talked with the current students and they mentioned that a couple of similar incidents of that nature happened in the previous semester. I also felt stupid seeing the Northgate Parking garage. When I was in college, we held the placards and walked in protest against constructing the garage in the 'historical' Northgate area and the garage now made a mockery of our attempts :)

I visited the memorial constructed for the 12 Aggies fell during the Bonfire of 1999. I was in school when the incident happened and I lived through the sad days in TAMU. 12 doors are erected in the general direction of the young mens' home towns. There are several other thoughtful motifs in the memorial as well. From there, I visited my Professors and the office where I used to work. The familiar smell in the Blocker Building - a combination of roasted coffee beans, the stuffiness of old upholstery and the various cleaning chemicals, triggered a wave of nostalgia. Then, I enjoyed the sunset @ Lake Sommerville. Ofcourse, it would have been much more pleasant to enjoy the sunset with friends. But, I surely would take this next best thing.

The whole of Tuesday was spent on interviews and I rushed to Houston airport after the interviews were over. While doing the 2 legged 8 hour flight back to San Jose, I can't help but feel that I am leaving a part of me back at good Ole' Aggieland. Good bye TAMU, Good bye College Station.

Signing off,

ps. For the slideshow of my TAMU trip, please visit my picasa web album.

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At 8:58 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Great you enjoyed your nostalgia.

At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when r u going to take me there?


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