Bloomington Diary – Part 3 – The Unexpected

It’s a common practice here in America to leave house hold items which are not in need outside the door so that the new comers can take them free of cost. Sometimes they sell it too. As a goodwill gesture & a ‘welcome’ to their land, the local church offers 3 items of your choice among the hoards of items they have free of cost. They will give you a bag & whatever you can put inside/are capable of carrying, you can take it, I was told. They might offer a piece of furniture too. Only thing is that in return you have to sit & watch a video. My daughter failed to mention it to me but one of her friends told me. Well I have not seen it so I cannot explain to you how it is.

One of my daughter’s friends was complaining about the colour of their sofa & one day when we were walking we saw a nice white sofa across the road close to our apartment. So I decided to get it for her or at least inform her about it. We kept walking & across the pond we saw a couple from let us say country “X” with a baby in a pram, sitting on bench. We walked further & after 15 minutes returned on the same way. I could see the same lady with a huge mattress balancing/struggling to hold near the pond. I was wondering where the baby & the husband were. Then I saw the husband pushing the pram at a distance. He would push the pram for a while on the footpath, keep it there, come back, & both would carry the mattress & stop again as it was very heavy.

I looked at my husband for approval to help them with the pram so they could move the mattress. They were more than happy with the offer & I started pushing. The pram had a note stuck on it for lost & found purpose, where the name was very different from the usual name the country men would use. The husband was a student & the wife could not speak any of the languages known to me except for a few words in English. The mattress was so heavy a small distance took almost 20 minutes. It was their 2nd year in the campus.

Finally they reached the same place where we had seen the white sofa. So the sofa we eyed was already taken! Then I remembered that two days ago, I had seen a pretty, chubby little baby girl almost close to the same place, with an elderly lady with whom I could not communicate. At the same time, the elderly lady came with grocery in hand, wondering what I was doing with their baby. They said something to her & she moved on. I told them that I guess the kind older lady does not speak English as she was with your baby girl yesterday, letting her take in the sunshine, & I tried talking to her but didn’t get any response. They said in chorus no that was a girl this is a boy & she is our friend’s mother living in the same building.

That’s when I remembered something- I had noticed a couple of times, few more babies in & around while walking, always with a nanny from the same country!! This one had wife, the other one mother & two more also with middle aged ladies. Why is that particular country men’s practice different from others? How do they manage there without speaking English? Also how can they manage the apartment & the living if they are collecting the stuff around? Well I know it’s not my business but sometimes things around seems to have some mystery attached to it!! When I mentioned it to my daughter’s friends they said in unison, “yeah aunty we have seen it too but we never realized it until you mentioned it!!” My husband said you are not Sherlock Holmes… let it be…

Bloomington diary – Part 1 – Small town blues

Firstly, sorry for the long delays since my last few posts, been travelling all over in the last month or so, including a long eventful drive cross country through America. This next set of posts has been a long time coming, and is a summary of collections and stories from my previous trip to the USA in 2014. Hope you enjoy!

When I landed in Bloomington, Indiana on 4th of July, I was wondering what I was going to do for 3 weeks & planned to make walking & losing weight as my number one priority…

Bloomington is a small Midwestern University town & it’s practically empty during the summer months of June to August when most students will either be away on internships or on holidays. That is almost 65% percent of the population.

Like all the university towns of North America, it’s a peaceful wooded town & the forest beside the state highway reminds me of a drive on Coorg roads. The air is fresh, water is clean & people are friendly. Like every nation in the world where people closer to nature are friendlier than the city dwellers, bloomy goes one step extra- at least compared to Providence, RI.

People passing by, even though very few at this time of the year, always have a smile or a wish or at least a nod, irrespective of the colour & creed. Even the youngsters walking the dog also were in the same league. People drive with caution & in an intersection where there is no signal always the one who comes even if a fraction of a second earlier gets the preference. And here the pedestrian rules the road & everyone waits religiously.

Whole surrounding is extremely clean, & the lawn everywhere well-manicured. The birds singing early in the morning with various sounds surprise you as if you are in a rainforest. Plenty of hares running around showing off their white spot on the butts!! Occasionally you can spot the grazing deer while driving around in the evenings.

Surprising there aren’t many gardens around but many wild flowers peep here & there, popping their head out on the grass. Unfortunately, I could not get a single picture of the wild flowers beside the forest as stopping anywhere even for a short time is prohibited & Uncle Sam could pop up anytime from anywhere it seems.

Many a times I see the Asian cousins of various plants with little variation in colour or texture or flowers or the leaves. For example I met the cousins of the orange trumpet, ekka flower, & strangely a wild edible mushroom (umbrella mushroom) which of course my husband would not even let me pick. There was also a mushroom similar to the tree-mushroom but on the ground- later I realized that perhaps it is because they use wood-shaves in the garden & the mushroom must have evolved!! That’s reminded me that in spite of everything, there are lot of things common at least in the nature and over which man does not really have control. No visa or green card or residence is required!!

The remaining summer students at the bus stop reminds you of the era which you are in as everyone sports a mobile phones and are unaware of the world around them. As usual either talking or texting in their own shortcut words, murdering the English language itself! The words they use sound like they are writing some Vedic mool-mantra or something… At times I wonder if the future generation will even know how to write by hand or calculate using their brain. It’s every inventors dream to create a future robot with emotions & motion like humans. But I think it’s going to be the other way around & we are going create children, rather future generations, who are like robots… The bus stops stands beside a beautiful pond with a weeping willow tree. I don’t think most of the students are even aware there is a pond behind them…ha ha ha!

While walking in the morning we came across the rushing fire brigade & everyone promptly made way for them. The siren could be heard from far & even before the fire engine had hit the signal, other drivers had already made way. Then in a while the police car followed & then the medical vehicle. Everyone knew exactly where they are supposed to go unlike the usual scene I witness where the fire brigade goes round & round, perhaps because it’s a small town & later after walking a kilometer plus we saw the medical vehicle going back. No wonder fireman & fire chief are well respected in the community.

Even though you can get stuff in plastic bags in the super market (Marsh – the only one nearest at 1 km away) & in pharmacies, etc., you don’t find any plastic bags lying everywhere. It was odd one day, when we found a bag lying on the pathway between the meadows near the apartment. My daughter wanted to pick it up & carry home to put in the dustbin as for about quarter kilometer there was no dustbin. But I would not let her do that because I was afraid that something must have been inside as a normal Bloomington citizen would not do that. Next day it was still there on the grass & flowers of the meadow, carried by wind.  At the end of the day it was cleared by the young man who was mowing the lawn. So in 25 days, that was the only time I saw plastic lying around. Even the two young men running though the garbage bin just got in, collected what they want, & left without messing up outside.

The main post office is very close, practically across the place I stay but quarter kilometer away still functions in full swing; mostly I see the elderly people working. May be I should take a chance & go & meet or talk to someone there.

On 16th July while walking home in the morning, around 10 am, we saw a mobile kept under the tree. Perhaps someone must have found it & kept it there in case the owner comes looking for it.  We were wondering if we should pick it & give it somewhere, a lost & found place perhaps, but we were afraid to touch it.  Then I thought of the news I watched a while ago on the theft of mobile phones in New York city last year (about a million!) & the high light was on a girl who lost her life. She was shot by two men in a car who stole her iphone when she was talking to her mother telling she is on her way home, while get into her car.

Another time early morning we saw a pair of sunglasses kept neatly on the grass besides a parking lot. Someone must have found it and kept there.