Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Canterbury Tales

Last December, I got on a BART train with a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and started reading. As soon as I sat down, a girl sat down in the seat across from me. I quickly noticed she was looking at me, and since she resembled Aishwarya Rai, I stopped reading, looked up, and smiled. She apologized for staring at me, said I looked familiar, and asked me if I went to Logan High. The resulting conversation was more fun than The Namesake, which I finished a couple weeks later.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a frame tale about the stories a bunch of pilgrims tell each other to pass the time on their way to Canterbury. Like these pilgrims, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of interesting people in my travels. There was the french horn player for the San Francisco Symphony who installed solar panels on his house and drove an electric car. There was the soldier who had just finished a tour in Afghanistan and was about to be deployed in Iraq. There was the Chinese woman who couldn’t speak a word of English but managed to show the stewardness she wanted orange juice through her own form of sign language. In many of these situations, I have favored talking to the person next to me over the book I brought on board.

This semester will mark a different kind of journey, in which I will propose and defend my choice for a thesis topic. After hanging out with one of my academic brothers on Friday, having a couple friends over for dinner on Saturday, and taking a group trip to the deYoung museum today, I’ve realized that I already have people in my life who will make this journey a memorable one.


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