The View From Alpha Centauri

by kirangarimella on July 4, 2010

One fine rainy day, I was walking briskly along Main Street USA in my little town (which, for purposes of anonymity, the reasons of which you will learn later, shall remain nameless). I was eager to get back home before the rain stopped so I could sit by my window sipping a hot cup of coffee and watch other people get wet in the rain. Watching other people get wet while one stays dry and cozy is one of those simple pleasures in life, not to be underestimated or wasted.

It was right at this point that I almost bump into this guy. Nothing remarkable in that, except that this guy, though partially wet and surrounded by swirling gusts of freezing rain, had an expression of great pleasure.

“The rain, she is exquisite, is it not?” he said.

“I guess she is at that,” I said, eyeing him carefully.

He seemed to be in his seventies (about twice my age at that time), with a mop of white hair on a 5’10” spindly frame. His eyes were a piercing bluish-purple, or so I thought—throughout our conversation, they kept changing color.

It turned out that he was looking to rent one of the apartments near main street. Coincidentally (don’t you love how these things work out?), I had recently purchased a duplex overlooking that very same main street, a 2BR-1BR setup, right on top of a bookshop and a barbershop. My better half and my better half’s worse half occupied the 2BR, while we sought to rent out the 1BR portion. I asked him if he’d be interested.

He was.

It turned out that while he could pay a year in advance if necessary, he had no references and no ID. Standing in the empty apartment, he explained, with a charming touch of diffidence, his eyes turning a disarming blue, “I am not from around here, you see.”

It turned out (and this story has a number of turns) that he was actually an alien from Centurion, an M-class planet (as they say in those Star Trek episodes) near Alpha Centauri.

It turned out (what did I tell you?) that I had grown up on a steady diet of Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, and other disreputable SF writers (indeed, my very first words were in Klingon, which were unfortunately interpreted by my caretakers as a choking fit). So, his grave disclosure did not faze me one bit. As long as he could pay cash up front, what did I care? If anything, exchanging Trekkie lore with another loony would be just a bonus.

Over the course of his tenancy, I was the fortunate recipient of his observations of the human civilization. I have compiled them in these articles. Even though he was (and continues to be) on Earth, I call his viewpoint the View from Alpha Centauri, because only someone that far removed can consider so many Earth customs quite baffling.

Happy reading. Just don’t get turned inside-out too much.


P.S.: Oh yes, his name: it was something in Centurion that sounded a bit like Narik Allemirag, so that’s what I decided to call him.

P.P.S: Like all good aliens, he has a healthy fear of being captured by the FBI or any of the alien watchdog groups, and dissected up in the interest of science. Hence my refusal to talk about his current whereabouts or any personally identifiable information. In fact, I can’t. He put a PB (a Personal Block) in my brain, you see. So there!

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