2009: Towards socialism


Last year Joe the plumber prophetically announced that if Obama were elected there would be socialism in the United States. Looking back at 2009, I am convinced that socialism has arrived. Consider the following: I post on facebook that I misplaced my house key and I get a couch to stay in. I need to go shopping, and I get free shuttle service that too with charming chauffeurs. I wish for food and my housemates respond, and I feel like drinking and I get invited within two minutes of writing it on facebook. Cupcakes and cookies appear magically in the office every now and then and no festival has gone without sumptuous food. If all this is not socialism, what could it be?

It all started in February immediately after Obama’s inauguration. I had just written my comprehensive exams and Lindsey called for a party at Taps bar. When it comes to drinking, I suck; but I responded to the call for an evening of revelry. Socialism, as we know, would suffer if there were not a strong party system, and Lindsey is a party organiser par excellence. She doubles up as one of my attractive chauffeurs. Incidentally, without Lindsey around cupcakes and cookies rarely appear magically in the grad bay. They must like her a lot.

Getting back to the story, I met Chellie at Taps. She studies the environment and became my trekking partner. In my first outing with her we scrounged on our hands and knees on snow in search of some ferns and mosses. She’s on a roll when she is gathering moss, and I have seen nothing excite her like those green slippery things. In summer she took me on treks to water falls, swamps, hills, lakes, and the magnificent Adirondacks. Summer has never been more beautiful.

My party life was evolving fast and I started connecting with many interesting people. I should certainly mention the geologists, Thatha and Mimi. They love dating rocks and I love rocking dates, and it is only natural that we connected given this similarity of interests. In this multi-purpose world, they serve as my chauffeurs, squash partners and splendid hosts who guarantee great food and fun. I also met Sripathy, Vikram and Vipul in these parties and we became housemates in August.

Sripathy wakes up early and like good South Indians we start our day with coffee and debate at 6 am. We love arguing and we mean business when we get to it, even if it becomes a mean business at times. Some days I walk into the house to watch heated arguments: “No, I want to cook”, says Vipul; “Dude, I have already started cooking”, says Sripathy. This is a classic illustration of socialism. Vikram promises too cook every week and forgets it most of the times. He then cleans the dishes out of a feeling of guilt. In my socialist spirit, I don’t complain J

If great housemates were not enough, we also got awesome neighbours. Nidhi organises great parties and cooks so much that she has to call us again to finish it. She also organised a trip to the Adirondacks where I swam across a lake for the first time. Her housemate, Stephanie Iyer, is a constant companion for whom arguments are like oxygen. “Women r less likely to have a high paying job bc they by nature, generally don’t have the attributes that men with high paying jobs do. Prove me wrong”, came an SMS on December 15. Proof by her standards are rather rigorous and I was supposed to send my argument with detailed data by mail. I chuckled at the task that her brother has: to explain theory of relativity by SMS. Socialism does have its drawbacks.

I then met Kristin who I added quickly to my chauffeur collection. I watch movies at her house and dine at her place at least three evenings a week. Like her, the movies she chooses are great to watch and difficult to understand. She is currently on a project to acquaint me with American culture and to feminise me (as if I were a male icon needing intervention).

Between all this fun writing had to suffer and there was a social solution to this too: a writing group. Dana and Diane started coming home to write together and things started falling in place. If all these were not enough there have been lunches with Chris, trips with David, reunions with the D.School gang, singing party, hundreds of hugs from Anya and Dave, a 15 course thanksgiving dinner, nurturing teachers, and the list goes on.

Socialism has not been without its limitations and its evils. The biggest shortcoming yet is that some of my good friends don’t hug enough. That is appalling and I am considering the shameless puppy approach to civilize them. The continued absence of a girl friend in life is unwelcome. That situation has to be remedied. As my conservative friends point out socialism can be evil since it restricts individual liberty. This is certainly happening seen by the fact that I have lost my liberty not to dance in parties. But overall, it seems to be working as I wake up each day looking forward to what’s to come.

To put it à la Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the best of times. Thank you friends for making it such a marvellous year that counts as among the happiest in my life.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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