Several delays later I was at Brussels with just enough time to spare to get security checked and run to the next terminal for my connecting flight to Newark. It was unreal and with so many desi techies on the flight, I didn’t feel all that bewildered. More sleep later I was at Newark. And that is when the full force of things hit me hard in the face!
America. The land of plenty, of dreams, of fast cars, of Hollywood… of everything that we see on the tele and read in books. As I stood in the queue for immigration, I could not suppress my grin. I was finally here in America! I never thought I would come, but here I was. Everything had happened so suddenly, I had not expected or wanted it even, but here I was. I think I was in shock!! The sights, the sounds, the smells… I was lapping it all up hungrily! All at once, I wanted 360 degree vision, to be able to overhear conversations, observe people, fashions of the day, signboards, hair color, accents… I just wanted to soak it all in! I was in sensory overload and I was scared some, excited some, plain bewildered some, and my arms were aching from carrying too much hand luggage!
Immigration and baggage claim later – which involved fiddling with the alien currency for a trolley dispenser (India rocks, trolleys are free there) – I was running across the length of Newark’s Liberty International Airport to make it to my flight to Madison. Oh I nearly got lost! And they said take a train to the terminal and the very concept was so alien ( all the other international airports I’d ever been to always said take the escalator, or walk-alator, or the stairs or the cart, but train?! Huh!), so alien that I thought I heard wrong and went around in circles! I finally found the air train(!!) that took me from one terminal of Liberty to another one two stops away. And I was running again, for my next and last flight. Running, running and I was in finally! A making-me-claustrophobically small aircraft with one stewardess all the way to Madison. But I was having fun! I was doing what I love doing on trips – people watching!!!
Before I knew it, we were taxing on the runway and I saw the famed Manhattan silhouette, with Liberty and the waterfront! Oh I couldn’t wait to explore, but there would be more time for that later, I promised myself that! I arrived at Madison, welcomed by a blisteringly cold day, and without any of my baggage! Seems like I wasn’t the only who was lost at Newark!
The first few days at Madison were full of questions! I think my roomie completely got sick of me and the incessant questions I was asking! I couldn’t/still can’t stand not knowing, I wanted to experience everything all at once!
Well it’s a month down now, my bags are with me, and I’m settled in my own room well enough to start noticing the not so rosy things about this place. I miss home every once in a while. I think I miss good company more than I miss home as such. I miss being a click or buzz away from my friends, the ones I would chat with everyday from office or home. I miss having hot tea and dinner waiting for me when I get home from work. I miss not having to make a decision on anything – about whether I’m running out of vegetables, whether I need to soak kidney beans tonight for tomorrow’s dinner, whether my shirts need ironing… I miss not having to worry about chopping onions and chipping off a nail accidentally. You know I should really stop writing now, before I get all homesick!
But life is good! I’m feeling as un-independent as I have ever done in so many years. All my independence from home is out the window and I am starting over. Plenty to learn and explore. Work is different from anything I’ve experienced offshore. I’m not the best person here, but I’m learning. Thanks to the internet and a great family and some awesome friends, I’m just a click away from any company I need. Hopefully, there’s something even better at the end of all of this! Even better than a two day snow storm and walking through 9 inches of snow to reach the parking lot from office, and getting frozen fingers in trying to clean the windshield (psst : I loved it!!)! Better than the anticipation of being able to drive in a while. But definitely not better than going down to Charlottesville at the end of this month – nothing is going to beat that and I’m uber excited!!
Welcome to America!