Sumeet Jain
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13 Aug 2011

Big Wheel Brigade

Big Wheels
Photo by Laughing Squid

After arriving in Omaha (again), my uncle/cousin Rahul and I completed a conversation we had started several weeks earlier about doing business together. The long and short of it is that we are going to make products for personal profit and also to contribute revenues to causes we care about. Our company is going to be called Big Wheel Brigade1.

Related to this decision, I’m moving to Omaha. I’ve found an apartment (I’ve exhausted every possible joke about how cheap rent is compared to San Francisco, so this is the last I’ll mention the subject.) in the hip Dundee neighborhood - I move in September 15.

Recovery

Big Wheel Brigade was born just after I arrived in Omaha after the snakebite. For 2 weeks after that I lay in bed - hopping to and from meals on one foot. Then I took my first step on the snakebitten foot - it felt okay! But it was still stiff and weak, so I decided to walk sparingly. For another week, I worked my way up from hopping-and-walking to walking-with-a-limp.

I finally felt healthy enough to make the drive back to California for Rakhi and to collect my things for the move to Omaha. But first I would detour to Chicago to visit some friends and family.

Saturday, August 6 - Chicago

Aniruddh and Rebecca taught me how to make pizza. In the beginning, I had trouble kneading my dough into a disc. Aniruddh stepped in to show me how it’s done, but he couldn’t reverse the damage. By that point, neither he nor I wanted to claim credit for the goopy mound in front of us:

Failure

I complained some more about how hard making pizza is and asked impatiently when we get to throw it in the air. Rebecca informed me that their pizza instructor (from New York!) had taught them not to throw, because - though it’s fun - pizza comes out better when it’s flattened by hand. I stored that trivia away for another time (Perhaps some day I can impress a foodie dame with my purist pizza philosophy.) and told her flatly that nothing would stand between me and throwing pizza in the air.

Pizza Throw
At last, great success was had!

After visiting Neeru Masiji and Manish Masarji in Naperville, it was time for me to go home to California.

Tuesday, August 9 - Not Quite Homeward Bound

The drive didn’t last long. I was (and am) experiencing a surge of freelance work. I quickly discovered that the looming deadlines make a lengthy drive impossible to enjoy. So I stopped just hours out of Chicago - in Des Moines, Iowa - to do some work and rethink my travel plans2. It’s now four days later, and I’m still in Des Moines. Little did I know when I stopped here that the center of the universe was about to fall down in Iowa.

None of the things that have happened during my stay here were anomalies. I’m just out of touch with politics, so I hadn’t considered the impact of the 2012 Presidential Campaign Season: The day after I arrived in Des Moines, Sarah Palin rolled into town with her posse; the Republican Party’s Presidential candidates held their FOX-televised debate in a neighboring city; the Iowa State Fair held its Opening Day; Jon Stewart opened his show with a lengthy segment about the debates and the Fair, and Stephen Colbert launched his second Super PAC commercial and spent 10 minutes admonishing local news channel WOI-DT for not airing it.

Iowa Madness

I experienced most of these events with my AirBNB hosts - Cat Rocketship, Scott Kubie, and Darby Shannon. Darby happened to be my barista at the coffee shop where I’d been working since arriving in Des Moines. Cat Rocketship and Scott Kubie happened to be friends with the Omaha tech community; they know Rahul - my Big Wheel Brigade partner. I’m constantly amazed by the prevalence of coincidence during my travels.

Friday, August 12 - Iowa State Fair

In the evening Cat, Scott, Darby, some of their friends, and I went to the Iowa State Fair together. The experience began with parking, which there wasn’t. This is a deliberate limitation that is embraced by the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the fairgrounds. Visitors to the fair pay the residents to park on their lawns. Scott told me they make enough to cover their property taxes each year.

After parking, we walked a short distance to the fair entrance. It was “East Side Night”, which Cat explained is the night when all the city’s “rednecks” flock to the fair. I honestly couldn’t tell. The fairgrounds were packed to the edges with fun-loving folks eating and drinking to their heart’s content (and - I’m sure - eventual demise).

Iowa State Fair
Photo by Iowa State Fair

I will never be able to eat like a Midwesterner. I entered the fair with every intention of chowing on some fried butter, fried ice cream, fried vegetables, fried cheese, doughnuts, turkey leg, pork loin, corn dog, and beer. But the fair did defeat me. In fact, I nearly filled my stomach on the smell alone. Walking through the crowd and alleys of food stalls, I actually began to feel nourished (or at least satiated). When it was finally time to eat, I couldn’t handle more than tastes of a few fried delights. I will forever live with the regret of not having tried fried butter. I still don’t understand what that is.

  1. We are both freelance web developers with active clienteles that we care about, so our day-jobs aren’t changing. Big Wheel Brigade is going to be an important part of our lives, and we’re going to spend a lot of time working on its projects. But - for now - it’s a part-time endeavor with potential for growth.

  2. If you’re curious, the revised travel plan is to drive only as far west as Omaha. Then I’ll then fly back to California and celebrate Rakhi. And I’ll fly back to Omaha in September - bringing back the few things that aren’t already in my car.