Monday, August 01, 2005

Goodbye USA!

The last few days of my stay in the US was very emotional.  I was happy about returning back to India but I was also sad. I had developed a special bond with Colorado Springs and formed new friendships here. It was not easy to part from them all. I took time to meet everyone personally and say a proper good bye to them. 

My Manager took our entire team out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Later that evening, he told me that I had done great and he would surely miss me. He indeed is a role model for me as a manager and I look up to him for inspiration. 

I met all my Indian colleagues and thanked them for their support. Nagendra sure had been one of my best friends in the city and I would definitely miss him. During the last few days of my stay, he had begun to share some of his deepest secrets. Some of them, he had never shared with anyone. Despite some of it being against my own values and ethics at that time, I seemed to accept him as he was.  I invited him for dinner at Mirch Masala and bid farewell to my dear friend. 

One of my colleagues, Fred arranged for a send off lunch for me. Some other colleagues joined. It was hard to say good bye to Peggy. I had dinner with Mike and her. Jonah and I joked that she was our American Mother but truly, she had been no less than a mother for us. She had taken care of me since the day I had first stepped on the American soil. I would always remain touched by her kindness and generosity. Her husband Mike and their tenant Brett have been great friends to me. Brett gifted me a collection of Alfred Hitchcock movies. 

On 29th of July, my friends treated me with a dinner and gifted me a pen set. It was very nice of them to do so. I felt extremely emotional but hid the sentiments behind a nervous smile. I would miss all of them. Specially, Seb and Jonah. However, I knew that they are going to return soon and we would meet again in India. Early next morning (30-Jul-2005) I left Colorado springs and flew to Minneapolis and then to Amsterdam and then to Mumbai. That year, my birthday (31-Jul) was spent flying from the west to the east. 

I am haunted by words and memories. That made it hard to bid farewell to this lovely city; this incredible country. I knew I would miss my walks in the cotton wood creek park and around the apartment complex; my long conversations with Nagendra; the view of the pikes peak; the donut shop that Dennis, my Driving instructor got me hooked to; Albertsons, the grocery store where I often shopped and many other small things that had made up this entire year. But life has to go on and I knew that a new life awaited me in Bangalore. 

I had come to the US as a timid and silent boy but this country has turned me into someone more confident and soulful. Thanks to this country, I began enjoying traveling and driving. I observe a drastic change in my personality. While I return, I know that I shall go back as a much more lively and confident person than what I was when I left India. 

America allows one to be oneself and not a single person interferes in your life. As I return, I take back with me, the gift of individualism that this country has given me. It is time to explore what I can do with this gift.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Garden Of Gods

Last weekend we went to the Garden of the gods in the evening. I love this place. Specially in the evenings, the almond coloured sand stones appear enriched by the glow received from the setting sun. 

At night, when we sat near the balancing rock, we met a man of Native American descent. His great grand mother was from Pueblo and came represented a prominent family. He considered that balancing rock was unique and nothing so beautiful could be found anywhere else in the world. That made us smile because, though it is incredibly beautiful out here, to say that it is the best did not seem right. That is very American to say that. Almost every tourist attraction here is marketed as the World's best. Anyways, having read a lot about native Americans, it was interesting to meet one before I left the country.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Upon Return

On the 12th of July, two of our colleagues came to the US from India. But that was an interesting story. Jonah and I went to Denver airport at around 7:30 PM to receive them. But, the Air India flight they were on was delayed by 7 hours. We checked at the customer care and they told us that our friends would miss the last flight and thus be perhaps on the first flight, the next morning. We had dinner and returned back to Colorado Springs. At 1:00 AM, Mahesh and Ravi call us telling that they had just reached Denver airport. Jonah and I drive back again to Denver (1.5 hours drive) to pick them up. By the time we reached back home it was 4:00 AM. 

We now are a group of 6 people in two houses. It is a great group. But my days here is numbered. I have a mixed feeling about it. I am neither fully sad nor very happy about heading back. On the 16th of July, we went to Denver and spent some time at the 16th Street. 

On the 22nd of July, we all visited Nagendra's new house. He had bought this 6 bedroom house upon request from his daughter. His wife is a very sweet lady. She cooked Masala dosa, Fried rice and some desserts for us. After having excellent food at his place, he drove us to Creeple creek. The casinos in Creeple creek are not as vibrant as the ones in Vegas but its not bad. We did not see much of this old town at night but we enjoyed watching Nagendra play black jack. It was a great evening. We returned to Colorado Springs at midnight. 

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Los Angeles Again!

On the 7th of July, I took a long 4 hour flight from the east coast to west coast. Nagraj Bawa and my niece Varsha had come to receive me at Los Angeles airport. At home, my sister Anu had cooked some really delicious food. She is a master chef. 

Next day, Anu and I did some shopping. I had lot of things to buy before I headed back. On the 9th of July we watched a hindi film in theatres at downtown. We also visited the Hollywood street where there were many dressed like star war characters. We drove to Venice beach to view the sunset. It was quite lively there. 

I mostly shopped for gifts that i had to carry back and enjoyed great food cooked by my Anu. It was good to have some family time playing with my little niece Varsha. Anu had visited India earlier that year and I had asked her to get some Nataraja idols for me. I wanted to gift them to the colleagues at office. 

On the 10th of July, I flew back to Colorado Springs. The view from the flight was impressive. I would surely miss these flights above the cloud when I return to India, in a month. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Luray Caverns, Virginia

Shanthi Akka suggested that since I had covered 24 states in the US already, We should drive to Luray caverns in Virginia and cover another state. It was a long drive but it was interesting. We drove by the scenic skyline drive. 

The caves of Luray caverns are really impressive and well maintained. 

We also stopped at a farm house owned by one of Shanthi Akka's friend. It was a beautiful house very close to the woods. The place is isolated but it sure is peaceful out there. The US devotees of Divine park (A spiritual group from Udupi) were planning on arranging a Vishwamangala homma there when the Guru visits the US. 

We returned home for dinner. Shanthi Akka had prepared a lot of good food. We watched a Kannada movie called Mathadana before going to sleep. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Baltimore, Maryland

Sundar and I took a bus to NYC. We stopped at a Donut shop to enquire about the directions to reach Chinatown. There had been a bank robbery on that street and there were a lot of police cars out there. We took subway to reach Chinatown.

Chinatown was very crowded. Many Chinese women approached us asking if we needed a bus ticket. There was no one to clearly guide us to the bus. It was really funny. I did not feel like I was in the US. When we asked people about the bus, they pointed at random buses that was parked there. Finally, we did board the correct bus. 

At Baltimore, while waiting for my cousin, I spoke to an old couple. Their bus had broken down and the driver was repairing it. They were part of some organisation that help the poor. They told me how they collected the soaps and other items placed in hotels they stayed in and gave them to the poor or old age homes. 

Uday Bawa and Lekha came to pick me. Sundar's friends came to pick him up. I was happy to meet my cousin Shanthi Akka after such a long time. We spoke a lot and I ate some good home food. 

Next day, on the 4th of July, we visited Washington. We stopped by to view the Whitehouse and Washington monument. There are a lot of museums here. We chose to visit the Air and space museum. We watched an interesting film on international space station on IMAX. 

The parade was impressive too.

We visited a Shanthi Akka's friend's house for dinner. Firework was burst to celebrate the US independence day. 

On the 5th of July, we visited a Siva vishnu temple about 30miles from Baltimore. It is a impressive temple.

In the evening, we went to the Baltimore harbour area. It was very lively out there. There was a guy putting up a juggling show which was interesting  Shanthi Akka and I spoke a lot about spirituality.