Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to the US

This week brings me to Seattle, San Jose and possibly Atlanta. It has been exactly 2 years since I left the US and set base in India. An internal company conference takes me back to the US over the next 2 weeks. I sit now on my flight to the US and type this post out!

One advice to everyone.. avoid flying out of Delhi International Airport like the PLAGUE! It was a nightmare. I had flown in to Delhi from Ahmadabad after the Ultimate Frisbee tournament. First, it's a 20 min ride taxi ride from the domestic terminal to the International terminal which costs Rs. 150 (why can't they have shuttles regular enougH?). Next, the whole international terminal is utter chaos! I stood about 35 min in line to get into the airport with ONE person checking everyone's tickets and passport! Next I spend 25 min waiting for my check-in baggage to be scanned. Then, I try and find the North West counter and that takes me another 15 min because there are no boards, and when I finally found someone to give me directions to it, it took me another 10 min to get there. There was no place to move my baggage in the direction I wanted to move! There were people moving all across the airport bumping into each other. Finally, I had to lift the baggage on my head and walk over. When I reached the NW check-in counter, to my dismay, I found to my dismay that there were about 85 people ahead of me. 40 min of wait later, I'm checked-in and I have my boarding pass in my hand. Next, I go stand in the immigrations line which took the LONGEST time! (Btw.. anyone ever figured out why only in India we have immigrations for going OUT of the country??). Geez.. we have a population crisis out here.. they should be glad that people are leaving the country.. infact, they should be paying people to leave! :-P. Anyways, I stood for the next 50 min in this line to get my immigration cleared. Just when I thought everything was over, the kind lady behind me reminded me that I still have security to clear. Another 15 min later, I clear security. I have exactly 10 min to get to my flight. I run and find that they're boarding. 10 more min wait, and then I'm finally seated in the flight. So, a grand total of 20+35+25+15+10+40+50+15 = grand total of 3 hours and 20 min almost! Heck, I could've flown back to Chennai from A'bad and then taken an international flight out!
From Delhi to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Detroit and now Detroit to Seattle, I am slowly reminded of my first flight 7 years ago to the US. My mental frame of mind during these flights reminds me SO much of my 2001 flight to the US! A feeling of emptiness, a feeling of having no purpose, a feeling of no enjoyment of what I'm doing. Every one of those flights was delayed, and I ended up running from flight to flight and barely made it on time! The last one was the closest, and I cleared immigration and arrived at the check-in counter with only 20 min to spare. They said that there is no way they could get me to Seattle on the next flight. So, I had to opt to let them fly my baggage on the next flight, and make a dash for the flight to get myself on board. I have a presentation to make at Seattle at 5.00pm and my flight lands there only at 3.00pm. I could not afford to take the next flight which will reach Seattle at 7.00pm. The primary purpose of my US trip would've been lost!
During this journey, I was reminded of some of the quirks in the United States. One, my flight from Amsterdam to the US, for the first time in 2 years, I had to ask for Water / Orange juice "without ice" :-). For the first time in a long time, I had to remove my belt and shoes for security checks. For the first time in 2 years, I had to be "finger printed" for entry into a country. For the first time in 2 years, I'm on a flight in which majority of the people ask for aerated drinks as opposed to fruit juices.
Thinking forward, the next 2 weeks in the US will be reminding me a lot of my past life :-). I'm meeting my ex-roommate and a bunch of NCSU classmates in Seattle. I will also be meeting my ex-salsa partner. I hope to meet with my other ex-roommate in San Jose next week and ofcourse, my cousins and nephews/nieces in the Bay Area. Nostalgia seeps in at the thought of Left-hand drives, automatics and high-speeds. I'm reminded of my super-car which sadly is no more today!
I await the next 2 weeks with mixed feelings. Mixed feelings of familiarity, feelings of alien-ness, excitement, nostalgia, and sadness. Now, gotta put them aside for a while. My travel agents screwed up and now I don't have a rental care in Seattle.. a taxi will have to do for now. Also, gotta go shave on the plane, wear the shirt I managed to stow-away on my laptop bag, and get ready for the presentation that I have to deliver in another 3 hours. 250 sales/FAE await to tear my presentation apart or be inspired by it enough to want to sell the product I will be marketing over the next year..

More later..

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sit here reading your blog, having turned in my resignation today, to what would probably have been a (who knows what) kind of life and lifestyle to move back to India and to ISB. I have been in the US for over 5 years, and have made several friends. Throwing it all away (am I really?) to pursue a far dream and lofty objective is bringing mixed feelings. Just wanted to share how much I identify with your thoughts, and also mention what a good job you have done of framing them. Here's to Life, Travel, USA, ISB and India among others! Cheers, Rajeev

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Archana said...

:-)Nice one Manu Bhai

9:37 AM  

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