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MY JOURNAL By Nigel Cordeiro

I was telling Valerie, the President that I write in a Journal every now and then, and that I always write after every Goan event, she asked me to submit something for the Goan Connection.

The following are my own personal ramblings, mixed with actual Journal entries. Take whatever you want from it, but keep in mind, that they were written for my own benefit, rather than for a reader.

Unable to answer certain basic questions about my heritage, I surely need a course in Indian Culture 101 when I begin college next year. Whenever I tell people that I am Indian, I am confronted with the three fundamental questions: 1) Can most people there levitate? 2) Why do women wear that big red dot? 3) Are you really not allowed to eat cows? I can rarely supply a satisfactory answer ; the only thing I can firmly assert is that my father, in fact, DOES NOT work at a Mobile gas station or a 7-11.

My parents, seeing this lack of knowledge on Alison, my sister?s and my part, announced that we would attend a Goan dance. After an explanation as to the differences between Goan and goin', we realized that this was some Indian thing. Besides my interaction with my cousins, I didn't know any other Indians, and the ones I did were distant relatives, that smelled of castor oil, and that I had to kiss on both cheeks as a formality. Naturally we went to the dance kicking and screaming. When we got there Alison and I just sat at our table sulking. Within an hour, however, a girl asked us to join her and sit with all the rest of the kids. Having nothing else to do, we agreed, and awkwardly followed her. We saw a group of about 10 kids sitting around looking through a binder of CD's. I immediately struck up a conversation with the girl to whom the case belonged (who now has become a friend and confidante). I was surprised that anyone here, besides myself, listened to rap (much less Snoop Doggy Dogg). Then, a tough-looking kid with big ears and a crew cut introduced me to everyone. There were "crazy" Eddie, Ian - a die hard Raiders fan, some 6'5" kid along with about 10 others. While Alison remained quiet (for once), I talked to all of them, and they all seemed pretty nice. After a while, an unbelievably gorgeous girl asked me to dance, and from then, my mind was set. While we danced, she told me about the kids and all the cool things they did together. She asked me if I was going to the Picnic, and I replied, of course, that I was. <mental note: convince parents to go to the picnic>.

Since that first dance, I have had the opportunity to attend many more activities. Because of my piano accompaniment, I had the privilege to play for things like Mother Teresa's dedication mass, as well as a Christening, a New Year's party, and during the Christmas dance. I organized a snowboarding trip, in which picture the scene now: I walk into a room, the first people I greet are Mr. and Mrs. Nunes. Mr. Nunes exclaims, "Hi Nigel" and enthusiastically shakes my hand. Mrs. Nunes, in her smooth, peaceful voice, asks me how everything is going (specifically college applications). She then tells me that Ryan, her son, is similarly anxious about the whole admissions process, and then tells me that he is not here tonight because his band is playing somewhere or that he had to baby-sit. I approach Mrs. Martins who is always helping with something, and ask her if she needs a hand. She replies that she's fine and that I should go have fun. I greet soft-spoken Mr. Martins. Still a bit unsure of my name (and age), he gives me a warm smile and shakes my hand (and most likely wonders how I can bear such a striking resemblance to his youngest son). I scan the room to find Valerie -- It is not hard because she inevitably is wearing the coolest outfit I have ever seen. I go to talk to her, but am intercepted by Dr. Joey Nazareth who asks when I am applying to West Point.

My biggest regrets about the association: 1) that my family did not join sooner 2) that activities are not more frequent (I can count the number of events I have attended on my two hands) . I am amazed that some of the kids get bored, simply because they've been to so many of these events. I know that repeating the same thing can get tedious, but I could never get tired of watching uncoordinated middle-aged Indians dancing to YMCA, Electric Slide, and the timeless Macarena.

In such a short time (This Spring Fling will be the two year mark), I have met warm, kind, adults who are always open to hear my thoughts and opinions, and who often lend a valuable word. I have most importantly met at least 20 terrific kids: people that I wish to continue relationships with for the rest of my life. Of these kids, I have found the fun-loving people, the welcoming, accepting, advice giving people, and developed one true friendship.

While I still cannot answer the red dot mystery, and have not really expanded my cultural horizons, I think I understand why my parents chose to join this association.