They must be sleeping back home…

27th March 2006

Grey, imposing, silent, quiet, efficient, impersonal, assured, different, large, cold?..

First impressions of the United States of America? probably since I have landed in Minneapolise when they are yet to shrug of their winters?.trees with barren branches line the horizon, broken by banks of snow, the white enhancing the grey around?

So here I am, in the space of one blog post, transported across continents typing away in an impossibly empty airport terminal deep in America. I face a wall of glass, opening into a view of the Airport runway. I have never seen so many aircrafts taking off in an hour in my entire life !

Its been an eventful journey, to be honest, I started off pretty glum, making such a long trip alone, and that too on an assignment where I am not too sure of what I am supposed to be doing !

So the flight from Mumbai to Amsterdam was late by ages, so I missed my connecting flight to Detroit?. But that sweet lady at the KLM counter booked me to Minneapolis in the only available flight at the moment, and that too in business class?.

Maaan, that is the way to travel. Having spent half my journey in a company sponsored cramped economy class, I guess the effect of the Business class travel was evident all the more. The chairs provided you three options for a lumber massage, they serve you real champagne when you board the craft, and there is actually a Menu card from where you can order food a-la-carte

I just reread the above passage, and man do I sound like a pakka country bumpkin !

Honestly though, I had often thought to myself what would be the effect of being in the USA, what will be my first thoughts, whether it would be so different to actually make it enjoyable?

And, again, I still do not have an answer. I feel somewhat indifferent; it seems a bit of an anticlimax. Guess you already know what to expect when you go abroad , so there could be a classic case of an expectation mismatch.

Possibly what is the most remarkable thing for me is the silence. An airport terminal reasonably full of people is more silent than my college classes used to be?hmmmm

It?s a strange feeling? to be in a country you cannot call your own, to know that you do not even share the same continent with the ones you love?and frankly it is yet to sink in.

I am here on a three month long assignment, working at a place called Danbury Connecticut..

Was pulled out of India at a fairly short notice, and I hope I will manage to get back there equally quickly.

So right now I have Rahat Fateh Ali Khan humming Jiya Dhadak on my laptop ( Thank God for MP3 !) a small pic of her sipping coffee from an Oversized mug, and a Starbucks for company?. Comforting images and flavors in an otherwise unsettling setting.

I really wanted to come to the USA, to try an figure out what is it about this place that makes millions leave everything they call their own, to be become aliens standing in a New Immigrant queue trying to answer the official why they wanted to go to America?

I think, to some extent, I have gained an answer? My flight attendants till now have been a mix of men and women from every racial background possible, from the Blond haired Nordix pursers to the Black lady at the checkout counter with a toothy smile?.I got my traveler cheques encashed at a counter manned by a south American woman, and now I am sitting across a Japanese guy typing away something in his hand held?

In the space of the last 24 hours i have been confronted by a range of facial featurer, heard new accents, tasted flavors all different, all linked by a smiling courtesy.

Even in the space of my first few hours here, it seems evident to me that there is a lot more dignity possible for an individual here than it is back home.

Too many things floating around me at the moment, and I am yet to form an opinion, once I do that, I will let you know 😉

April 1, 2006

So the above passage never got posted?. In the meantime my first official week at the client site got over. Till now USA for me has been a series of pretty roads ( wish we had such roads back home). This Saturday morning was spent unpacking? I think I have got way too much luggage. Am sharing a condo with a guy from Kerala who apart from being a very friendly chap, is a grand cook? thank god for Sulekha.com

So for the first time after having arrived in the USA, I have some time to spend on myself. Have some Bollywood music playing on my walkman ( ok guys go ahead and cringe? but right now I am loving it !)? and my plans include going out to explore my first Barnes and Nobles bookstore.

After a very hectic first three days which literally gave me sleepless nights.. things evened out yesterday?

My flat is a mile away from my workplace?. So in the morning I take a long walk through a Danbury waking up from slumber. It?s a beautiful place. Settled in the bowl of surrounding hills, air crisp with freshness, and a civility that somehow belies the image of America that we have back home.

They say in the books? that traveling opens up your mind? how true?

I took a cab from Hartford to reach Danbury? and the opening greeting of my cab driver was, ? Aur Bhai Kya Haal Hain?? Mr Malik from Karachi Pakistan?

He spent the next 1 hour ride quizzing me on Lucknow ?my hometown? Invited me to visit his home? and waited with me at Danbury till someone came to pick me up?

What is it about being away from home that makes people bond so much in foreign lands? is it the shared memories of India? of faces left behind and memories carried along? or the tears in your eyes when you miss the smiles shared back home?

When the beats of India echoe in the music you hear and accents of people around you. When you see immaculately manicured lawns and streets and imagine to yourself.. hey where are all the people ! When you travel on a freeway and think about that auto in the middle of a traffic jam with smoke from the MSRTC billowing in from the side…when you do not see a single two wheeler on the roads for 3 days straight?

When you realize in the middle of the day? they must be sleeping back home..

and when you open American newspapers and discover that your own country does not find a single mention in all its 36 pages?.

And for some of us?. Its home now?

India?.. can?t wait to get back?..

Comments from the past:

June
2 Apr 2006, 12:41pm

What is it about being away from home that makes people bond so much in foreign lands? is it the shared memories of India? of faces left behind and memories carried along? or the tears in your eyes when you miss the smiles shared back home?

🙂

jus thinkin of old day… dont ask me why, but yer post put a smile on my face. 🙂

s?
3 Apr 2006, 12:58pm

yep, even the busiest of the malls are quiet…

but hey, no place like home 🙂

Ashish
8 Apr 2006, 1:12am

Hey S, nice to see you on my blog again… and June, am glad that I made you smile…and I am not asking why.

Thanks for reading this

Mama
16 Jun 2006, 9:59am

you seem to be a lost soul in an inhospitable terrain- ababe in the wood. Dearest Chhotu, grow up- manzilen aur bhi hain wasl ki rahat ke siva; mujh se pahli si mohabbat mere mahboob na mang. Go ahead and enjoy life as it comes, and dont be homesick. love Mama.

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