The memory of my first day in the land of dreams is still fresh as dew. Skyscrapers, shallow people, handshakes, grumpy looks, hip girls, drunk and flirtatious men – the image I had about the country from movies and other friends before coming here. Tired and worn out, we, a group of four T-birds, got into a car arranged by TIF (Thunderbird International Friends). Almost immediately, the TIF volunteer struck up a conversation about the place, weather, food and what not. Carried away by the conversation, I asked him a question in my native accent which he obviously couldn’t comprehend. I repeated, he still didn’t understand and said, “Never mind. I’m partially deaf. Your English is perfect”!! Even before I could recover from the shock of his humbleness, he took us to the school, helped us drop our baggage in our rooms, took us out so that we could buy food and brought us back to school by 11.30 p.m.! I was completely flabbergasted but thought that he was probably an exception. Yes, I’m a cynic!
During our first un-official cohort meeting, I met my cohort leader – one of the coolest people I have ever known. He made sure none of our questions went unanswered and wouldn’t sleep without sending us an e-mail giving information about the next day’s events. Right from day one, he led us by example and never once did he fail to take care of us. Another day, while shopping at Walmart, I bumped into a fellow t-bird who almost forced us a ride back to the school. On the way back, she said how sorry she felt for not being able to join us for dinner. We magnanimously forgave her for that.
With many such warm people and their ‘intoxicating’ sweetness, I now know what Thunderbird is all about – burning down all misconceptions into ashes only to be risen again as a finer person with an open mind.