Saturday, March 04, 2006

Stories from Pine Bluff, AR

It's been a while since Ive been able to spend some time blogging. I have no intentions of posting here once a year just like Amir Khan's movie release schedule.

I have been in Arkansas (pronounced Arkansaw) since August 2003. My first stop was Pine Bluff, AR. I spent 2 years at the University of Arkansas. It was my first experience living in a predominantly African American city. It was the town of the "Home-Boys" or "Homies". I happened to be the only brown student mingling among them without fear (well atleast on the outside). A couple of years back, the city of Pine Bluff was in the news. It made the top 5 list in "America's most dangerous cities."

Most of the time, I did not understand half of what the people ever said. For me it was all Mumbo-Jumbo Bs. Once this huge African American guy walks upto me, and tries to pretend all cool. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

AA Guy: Yo, homie, whatz guud? (meaning: Hey Brother, How are you doing today?)

Me: : Excuse me?
AA Guy: Whaz up man?
Me: Oh, I am fine thanks. How about you?
AA Guy: Sheet. Chillin dawg. You got a square with you?
Me: Square? What sqaure?
AA Guy: Shit homie, u neu to the U.S? Square dawg. Sqaure. Cigarette.
Me: Oh yeah, sure.
AA Guy: Where u from my nizel ?
Me: Oh I am from Bangladesh.
AA Guy: Banga what? Who tat ?
Me: Its a country in South East Asia. It's beside India and it's Bangladesh.
AA Guy: Cool dawg, Cool. Asia is a hug ass country.

At that point I was a little dumbfounded, and requested permission to leave hoping and praying to God that I dont get shot.

Our Conversation got interesting 6 months later when I met that guy once more. It was brief, and upto the point.

AA Guy: What's guud dawg?
Me: Sheet, Chillin dawg. Whaz guud wid ya?
AA Guy: Got a square, home boy?
Me: Sure homie, Sure.
AA Guy: I gotcha next time. (meaning: I'll give you one back soon)
Me: For schizel mah nizel. (Sure, no prob.)

From my experience, if one can live in Pine Bluff, they can live anywhere in the U.S. Most of the homies were friendly with me. There are so many other stories to share and so little space and time. Maybe next time.

Arkansas, one of the south-central states, is near the geographic and population centers of the United States. The three national forests, Hot Springs National Park, Buffalo National River (the first designated national river in the country), 45 state parks, 13 major lakes, 2 mountain ranges and 9,000 miles of streams and rivers are just a few of the reasons 15 million travelers visit our state each year. Visit http://www.arkansas.com/ for more information.

Arkansas is famous for outdoor sports including camping, hiking, mountain climbing, hunting and fishing. Other attractions include the Arts Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Old Statehouse and the current State Capitol in Little Rock. Former President Bill Clinton is from Arkansas as well, and Arkansas is also supposedly famous for producing some of the biggest water melon's in the world.

Friday, February 17, 2006

One day, Four Seasons

It was quite an unusual way for me to wake up yesterday morning. At first I thought an Earthquake had struck. An Earthquake in Arkansas? ... wtf ! Then I heard the roar again. Oh it was a thunderstorm. Now somewhat awake, I reach out for my digital clock.

I found the clock in a somewhat disturbing state, and it was reset to 12:00am. I had a real good feeling that I was running late for work now. Quickly grabbing my wrist watch, I found out that I was already late by an hour!

I am usually prepared to do things in an Express mode. I have a few bites of cereal without the milk, and dress myself for the weather outside. The last few days have been really cold and today its the cold weather + the storms outside. So I put on my thickest waterproof jacket and head out to work.

As I step outside the house, I start to burn up. Holy Cow. I see people in T-shirts and shorts. It was raining now, and the temperature was almost about 75 F. I didn’t bother to take my jacket off and head to work. On my way, I could tell that people were looking at me in a weird way. I switched myself to Ignore mode, and pretended as if it was freezing outside anyway.

My supervisor greeted me with a "Are you okay, Kamrul?" “I am running a little late today. I guess it’s the weather.” In Arkansas, you can practically blame anything on the weather.

On my lunch break, I stepped out to grab a bite from the student union. It was nice and breezy. The rain had stopped. From summer, it almost felt like Spring/Autumn. I felt a bit relieved that the weather was finally getting better.

After lunch, it was time to get back to work. By the time I was almost done for the day, it was 8pm. I was careful not to put on my jacket this time. I don’t usually like people giving me looks. It's disturbing. So I head out of my office. Holy Cow. It’s freezing outside and people with T-shirts and shorts are trying to save their butts from freezing.

Today, it’s a different story. We are bracing for an Ice storm later this evening. From summer in the morning, to Spring/Autumn in the mid-afternoon, till winter at night, it almost felt like experiencing four seasons in one single day. Welcome to the Natural State: Arkansas.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Welcome, Friends.

After months of constant nagging, I finally gave in to one of my friend's wishes: to have my own blog. It is my intention to occasionally seek refuge in this web site to express my personal frustrations and share a few amusing news/incidents from (U)ncle (S)am's (A)merica.

Many people visit my site out of boredom, and the rest out of curiosity. Whatever brought you to my site today, I welcome you to my blog.