OUT IN THE NIGHT ON BLACK FRIDAY:

The first year here in the US and at USC is going to be a completely new experience for me as I will get to witness events, days, practices, traditions, habits and all other stuff that is part and parcel of the life over here for the first time. First of anything is always special than the recurrences of it in the later days. The primary reason being that you mostly don’t have a clear idea about what is to come and what will happen. Having a past memory of any happening will take away that little bit of anticipation and excitement that you would have before your first experience. Be it a cricket match that you go for or a ride in a roller-coaster or a visit to a popular tourist spot or for that matter any tiny bit of life experience, the freshness of the first experience is something unique. I am like a baby living the first year of my life, like a butterfly out of its cocoon, like a newly hatched chick. Things that are an integral part of an American society and the life of an Indian student in US are new to me and I am getting to experience those for the first time as I move through my very first year here in the US. It will not be the same next year around, though the intensity, the fun, the seriousness, the difficulty and the fever might be there associated with every small thing. The fever preceding the USC-UCLA match day, the day light saving where the clock jumps an hour back to adjust the time to account for  the delayed sunrise in winter, the exams here at USC, the events organized by the Indian Student Association and the university, trying out a new dish in some Mexican restaurant, trying to figure out how the washing machines in the laundry work, many others and now the thanks giving weekend and the Black Friday following it.

So the thanksgiving weekend gave a small reprieve from the continuous academic calendar. The whole university machinery has been paused and people have gone home to be with their family and many of them have gone out on fun trips. There was a striking difference in the traffic on the roads as you are able to spot lesser vehicles in the roads around the campus than the usual. I missed an opportunity to attend a dinner at the house of the university’s president. I should say I really missed it, as it turned out to be a great feast. The day after thanksgiving is black Friday. This is like our own “Aadi thallubadi”. You have discount sales starting from the midnight and going through the day. It really was a crazy night with people thronging the shops to purchase. So with no clear idea about what to do and with no particular purchase list, we just set out to witness what really happens on this night. I along with my roommates left the house at around eleven in the night to a shopping center in Glendale. We took a bus and the number of people in the bus during that late hours gave the first impression about what to expect there in Glendale. We reached there a little passed midnight and all you had there was huge crowd of people. The shopping mall looked like Ranganathan street at one o’ clock early in the day. To be honest I haven’t shopped in such a crowd even in India. A queue was there outside some of the shops and even inside the shops you have long queues for billing the purchased stuff. People did wait patiently in the queue even though they knew it would take them hours to get inside the shop. As I said earlier, I was not keen on buying anything in particular, but I just bought two thermal T-shirts in one of the less crowded shops. There were some shops were the offer closes by six in the morning and few others close their sales at noon. I met some of my friends there at the shopping mall. Few of them managed to get into one of the highly sought after shop even before the queue started building up. He told us that if at all we did want to go into that shop and manage to do so, one of us should go stand in the queue for billing once we are inside and we alternate among ourselves to choose the stuff that we wish to buy. It was that much crowded inside. There were just people all over that place going after all sorts of stuff that were up for sale. Clothing formed the major chunk of the sales on the night which I felt was quiet natural, but other kind of stuff including household electronics were also moving from the shelves. Cafeterias and coffee shops were running brisk business during that odd hour. At 3 in the morning looking at people having those huge burgers and sandwiches is quiet odd, but if shopping with madness at that time of the day is not considered weird than this shouldn’t feel weird as well. It was black Friday and I realised that is how it would be. We went there just with the intention of going there and being there to witness what goes around. The objective was achieved and the experience I should say was simple amazing. You can just go on and on shopping stuff on the black Friday night. We decided to leave around five in the morning and the crowd was still there out to buy stuff. It was six when we reached home and I went to sleep to wake up sometime in the afternoon.

This was my first black Friday experience and oh! God, it was a crazy night. I have left for shopping in the morning and came back late in the night. But this time it was the other way around.

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