“Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bravest of them all?” – And the answer, as expected, wasn’t that impressive! I knew it. I knew it from the start.
This was my second week at Austin, during the five weeks International Immersion Program at the McCombs Business School (University of Texas) that IIM Indore offers to the EPGP participants. However, I knew that something had gone wrong. I felt a sense of sudden transformation from within, a sense of insecurity and vulnerability that increasingly heightened my dependence on my fellow mates. From the feisty girl that I used to be, I had somehow lost all my high spirits and would hardly step out of my room!
But this was not how I wanted to see myself. Being born and brought up in a very traditional family, I definitely have a very clear view of what is “good” and what is not. Yet, I was never told to be a subdued person who would just stay indoors. I interacted with people, laughed and giggled through life. Naturally something was hurting now!
Told myself, this jinx needs to be broken. The time showed 10.30 am on a Saturday morning. It was already late, quite late- since I require about a couple of hours to get all decked up. And that’s a must when I’m going out!
Anyway, the ordeal of happiness was finally over, and it was a super Saturday noon – with a bright and warm Sun welcoming Austin. I knew that I couldn’t afford to miss the chance. Quickly flipped through the Transit app and decided that the Aquarium would be my destination. The next bus timing showed 20 minutes to go and the walk to the bus stop was barely a 5 minute one. So, I had enough time.
Reached the bus stop and started awaiting the bus. The vehicle arrived on time and I checked the destination route. The driver wasn’t aware and asked me to help him find the right stop for me. Poor me, I knew nothing at all! But I decided to put up a brave front. It was as ridiculous as an illiterate man attempting to educate another! I had to live with that as I’ve an Indian accent and it was quite possible that my words were not being well comprehended by a Native American guy. Anyway, the journey began and started matching the stop names from my app in anticipation of being ascertained that I’ve embarked on the right track.
Nothing seemed to match though and to be candid I started getting goose bumps thinking that I’d probably get lost in America! Suddenly some wisdom dawned on me and I thought I better check on the direction to which the bus is traversing. And guess what, it was just the opposite of what I intended to board!
The driver very politely got me down at the next stop, suggesting how I should reach the desired destination. It was freaking hot and I started waiting for the chariot to my destination. The chariot arrived at the designated hour and after the long wait in the scorching Sun, the driver’s polite greeting literally seemed as though Lord Krishna had descended and was assuring me with his iconic “Tathastu” that I would reach my destination safe and sound. The bus was not much crowded and I went and occupied my all time favorite ‘aisle seat’.
Soon after an aged man came along and sat beside me. I’m usually quite stoic and refrain from eavesdropping into other people’s business. However, lofty ideals do get shattered at times; after all to err is human!
Couldn’t believe what I heard!!! This man was apparently talking to a lady whom he addressed quite respectfully. He was stating his apprehension over being treated in a regal style and some unknown people paying for his super luxurious stay at a hotel. He was repeatedly mentioning that he’s very perplexed as to what made him get all the royal treatment that he was getting and he’d no clue who was sponsoring his food and accommodation.
I kept looking straight but my ears were all up and eyebrows all risen. His plight seemed analogous to that of a creature who denies sumptuous meal in anticipation of getting butchered. And I say that with all the due respect. My instant reaction was to change my seat, as things seemed heavily fishy out there. I was just attempting to locate a good alternative when my chariot came to an unexpected halt. I saw two stout men entering and the entire bus became pin drop silent for a while. After a pause it struck me that they were the well celebrated US State Troopers and instantly my heart missed a beat.
This article was written by Sreemoyee Saha, an EPGP participant at IIM Indore.