Sa Ri Ga Moo- My First Trip to Joisey

Yuva Sangeetha Lahari

Geeta Shankar

Sa Ri Ga Moo- My First Trip to Joisey

It was the last day of school, and we conducted the most exhilarating lab in science class which involved dissecting a cow’s eye! After poking the squishy liquid around the eye, I unearthed the hard cow eye lens, which honestly looked like rock candy. I was so eager to show my mom, so I placed it in my pocket and ran home.

As soon as I reached home, I packed my toothbrush, paatu notebook, and whatever dorky book I would have read back then, and rushed to the airport. At security– well you know the deal. Take off your shoes, jacket, belt, liquids, and laptop from bag…unless you’re privileged to get TSA-pre. Yeah, back then I was a fledgling traveler with negligible frequent flyer points so no special benefits for me.

Incidentally, I forgot about my rock candy– oops, I meant cow eye lens– which was still in my pocket. While the security guard was scanning me, she asked, “Oh, what’s this in your pocket?”

“It’s an eye lens from a cow I dissected at school today!”

She couldn’t decide whether to chuckle or to nominate me for the “most wanted” list, so she ended up giving me a really dazed stare which kind of freaked me out.

Anyway, 6 hours later, we got off the plane, flummoxed that an entire day had passed. Clearly, the strain of a red-eye flight had made our lenses as dry as our California lawn. Additional to our sleep deprivation, we landed in the Philadelphia Airport, so we had to drive all the way to New Jersey for the 2 pm music class. Now for most families, this would appear an achievable task. However, for my family…. Um… Well, I’ll just narrate what happened.

My parents do not like driving. There is no other way I can state it. Every half hour they either need to relieve themselves, sip a good coffee, or eat a delectable black-bean burger with southwestern grilled vegetables. And the entire car ride, they would incessantly crave for a nice samosa or hot pakoda to go along with the coffee. A road trip, which should have taken us 2 hours, became 5 hours. Uh, I guess I should also confess that I delayed our arrival by promenading around a serene lake in northern Pennsylvania.

But at last, we reached the music class venue, and of course, I greeted everyone by parading the house with my cow eye lens, which had now been in my pocket for 24 hours! Some of the expressions I received from people’s faces were of amusement, bafflement, and wow-I-am-so-creeped-out-by-this-wild-little-girl. I even showed Neyveli Sir, who put his palms together and closed his eyes. He must have prayed for the cow’s soul to rest in peace, which I did alongside him.

And this is how I acquainted with many New Jersey rasikas and musicians. I must have made a terrific first impression with my cow eye lens because every time I go to Jersey, I feel so grateful to be welcomed and hosted with an unparalleled amount of affection, warmth, and care. I will always be grateful for myriad sessions of intensive Carnatic music tutelage in New Jersey. And finally, and most importantly to me, because of the precious bonding moments and irreplaceable friendships I have made here, I truly believe that friends are our chosen family.

Geeta Shankar