Friday, 4 May 2012

Lost in Strange New World. Chapter Two: Chicago

*clears throat*
Let me begin by apologizing for disappearing – again. While some (read – one) of my loyal followers kept begging me to blog again, some critical followers (read – one) told me it is best I quit because I suck at it anyway. The loyal follower did not really count – being my sister the least she could do was encourage me in my futile attempt at wit. But then nor did the critical follower – being the most cynical self proclaimed genius, it was obviously refined jealousy at my ingenuity. The fact that nobody else cared counted though. So here I am frustrated at the lack of encouragement from you – Yeah YOU.

So I was supposed to finish this scientific paper in August … 2011, I have not yet. Though blogging makes me super guilty about that I decided it is time, because enlightenment cannot wait and the ideas were just over flowing. I am going to pick up right where I left off. After Baltimore next stop was Chicago. And Chicago in the summer is just a festival by itself. But this blog is not about how wonderful Chicago is because you can get that at any travel website and they sure do use a lot better adjectives than my mere “wonderful”.

As you might know (note: sarcasm) from one of my ancient posts I get lost at every excuse I can get to get lost. My sense of direction is way worse than a hamster running on one of those stupid wheels. If I were a hamster believe me I would get lost on one of those wheels. So here I was, absolutely alone in the big city of Chicago and I decided to walk to work every day. Now why would I do that? Because I was armed with the best weapon a person like me can have – a GPS app in my phone! ... Or so I thought.

First day: I decided to get something to eat. So armed with my new weapon I stepped out into the strange new world with a mission to accomplish. My GPS helped me find a Subway, KFC and a White Castle right at the end of my lane. Though the ‘White Castle at my doorstep scenario’ would have made life much easier for Harold and Kumar, it did not work for me – I was neither high on pot nor drunk and it was 10:00 am. I decided I needed to cook and decided to find the nearest grocery. My GPS first led me to a huge area of nothing but rubble which was supposed to be a supermarket – either the supermarket was demolished last night with no time for my GPS to update it or Superman decided to fart on it this morning. Walking to the next grocery, led by my GPS again, I found a decent place. And this made me super excited because for the first time in my life I actually found a place I needed to get to. Extremely content with myself and my weapon – I returned home, weapon in hand and mission accomplished.

First day of work: Thanks to the success story of the previous day it was only obvious why I would feel so confident on my way walking to my first day of work. I walked about 2 miles and finally reached my place of work (with a little assistance from a very helpful, good looking guy who went out of his way to find me my place inside the campus). This just could not get any better.
I walked back home. Somehow I walked 3 miles though. And I passed some Home for homeless which I was pretty sure I did not pass on my way to work. But all is well that ends well.

Second day of work: I reached much earlier than I thought I would, walking 1.5 miles. The places I passed seemed unfamiliar somehow. Three possibilities:
1) I was really not being observant any longer walking on my way to work – which was not very smart of me, and I like to believe I am … smart.
2) I was in magic land where places and streets changed everyday – which would make my life without a GPS impossible!
3) I was still managing to get lost. The sheer horror of it was unfathomable.

Third day of work: I reached late. I walked 4.5 miles and reached looking like a pig after a marathon. And I passed the FBI headquarters on my way. Now being the ex-X files-cum- Hannibal/Clarice fanatic and mischievous brat that I was, I was absolutely sure this had not happened before – I would have tried something stupid – Like telling him I was Agent Dana Scully, I just had plastic surgery which is why I don’t look like her any longer and he had to let me in; or that he looks just like Agent Fox Mulder and ask him when he was demoted into becoming a security guard; or tell him Dr Hannibal Lecter ate my face again and that is why Agent Clarice Starling keeps changing faces from that of Jodie Foster to that of Julianne Moore to now mine or maybe just make a silly face and run. But I hadn’t, and on that particular day I was too mortified at me managing to get lost and being late for work to consider being the mischievous brat I was.
My colleague understanding the pitiful and distressing situation I was in decided to help me out and dropped me back home. We reached VERY quickly. Apparently I lived no more than 0.8 miles away from work. All I had to do was walk straight on Taylor Street. Armed with this information I decided to try again.

Fourth day of work: I walked straight and reached. 0.8 miles it was – in a completely unseen route.
So on my way back from work I decided follow the same route with the help of my GPS. The fact that I had a familiar face about 30 metres behind me was somehow comforting. Everything was going perfectly well until I decided to tie my laces round a corner. The GPS instructed me to take a left – I did like a good little girl following mommy’s orders, I walked till the end of the lane and it instructed me to take a left – I did. Walking till the end of the lane, it instructed me to take a left AGAIN – and that is when it dawned on me – I was going around a block; I had two options walk back half the way around the block to where I tied my laces or follow the GPS take a left and walk to where I tied my laces. The GPS was realigning itself with every stop I made, with every time I turned a side or took a step forward at a corner. Stupid “secret weapon” did not understand that humans unlike cars can walk a step back and do not need to go around a block. I truly don’t understand how machines can ever get smarter than humans – They are so illogical. Humans are illogical only when emotions cloud minds. Machines are illogical all the time and with no good reason. Getting lost on my own was forgivable but getting lost with a GPS in hand was a new low for me that needed getting used to.
Disheartened at the total disappointment my GPS was, I followed my GPS one last time and the familiar face was ten steps ahead of me. He looked back and asked me if I was going around in circles.

Sheepishly grinning I said – “like always.”

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