The whole flight journey from Mumbai airport to Delhi and then to Chicago was an exciting period of twenty odd hours wherein I kept thinking of all of you in India who would have made my journey much more enjoyable. As I absorbed all the jazz and hype around, I also penned down some thoughts while in the plane and at the airport. It may not be a great fun to read and definitely won’t make into any bestseller like “The inscrutable Americans” but its “my” version and soon will find a place on my blog. (It finally has!) So here I go…

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The aircraft is descending to land, I look out of the window and see one of the fifty United States of America. I had expected to see tall skyscrapers, like the ones I had seen in American TV serials like Prison Break. Instead, I saw greenery everywhere! (Perhaps the sky-scene in the TV was New York, I thought. In retrospect, Anurag tells me that the “other” side than the one I landed is mesmerizing, with the tall buildings and all). There were well-planned buildings giving the whole landmass a geometric shape. The insides of these shapes were painted green, by the immense vegetation. (Back in India, before landing to CSI, one sees Dharavi, supposedly Asia’s second-largest slum). I was impressed.

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The immigration formalities all have been done and I’m here inside Chicago airport waiting for the bus to Purdue. Its scheduled after an hour and will take three more hours to reach Purdue.

I sit here looking all around, dazed by the surroundings wondering whether or not to spend my first couple of dollars at the MacDonalds nearby. I finally decide not to, and start writing this memoir.

As I was figuring a way to call up Shaunak asking him to pick me up and to call aai informing her of my safety, I noticed the nearby phone booth. I was curiously looking at it, since I didn’t have any change coins. Soon enough, a fair guy with dark black Indian hair called me and offered to help. He gave me his cellphone and I called up dabad. He turned out to be an Indian from Indore working here.

He soon left for his bus and I sat there looking around. Everything is spotless clean. Not a spec of dust anywhere. Even then, the gore janitors are driving those little vehicles with mops at their bottom, cleaning up the place. “So what, its equally clean at CSI and Delhi airports”, my patriotic mind defended. (CSI is Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport, for those of you who don’t know). I continue thinking what to write.

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Bikash Shakya from Nepal and his family are waiting for the Purdue bus. He is starting a PhD in Biology at Purdue. And he has a wife and a kid daughter to support. This would have been outrageous in India. A man’s foremost duty there would be to fend for his family; personal interests come later. That is why Mr. Raman (name changed because I forgot) is doing his PhD in Electronics at IIT Bombay now after retiring at 60 from his engineering job. In this respect, America is good. Bikash and his family and I are about to board the bus, and I pause writing.

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For some reason, I ain’t feeling like changing the Indian time on my wrist-watch to the local time. I prefer calculating the current local time every time I look at it. “This watch will always show IST”, some patriotic whim in my mind screams. The watch, with the UK flag on it, shows Indian time in the US. Is it globalization? Never mind.

I get into a bus and watch American roads. Its perfect, superb, just ideal! Its a superhighway, all vehicles follow traffic rules. Yet there are cameras installed at tollbooths. I passed a construction site and it was pretty much the same as in India. Except that the workers were all in safety-suits and with their helmets donned on. Some time later, I saw a large flat area with thousands of vehicles and a huge signboard that read – America’s auto auction. Pretty cool, man! A few minutes later, I saw a wind-energy-power-plant that went on like miles in both directions. Yeah, miles, gallons, pounds, Fahrenheit, a new Indian will go crazy with the mensuration units here! Wind, solar power, nuke energy and all.. impressive!

A few hours later, I landed at the Purdue airport and Shaunak’s friend came there to pick me up. He was an American and when I told him its my first visit to the US, replied something like “No sh*tting”. I had a tough time following his accent but it was not that bad. Regretting not watching movies in Avdhut and Mali’s room 🙂

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The above was a part of an email I sent to my near-and-dear ones, my friends in India, who I wished time and again would be with me. It would be an altogether fun to experience this with you guys!

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