First trip to the States

I am like a little child all wonderous and excited about USA. At lunch we discuss the States, at home I discuss what to buy with my family who patiently allow me to talk till I am tired, and even with clients I am asking where to go, what to buy, where to eat, what to see ...non stop barrage of questions and plans keep brewing in my mind

I am a travel weary person who suddenly finds herself so looking forward to NYC. The Big apple- here I come.

So many of my friends travel to USA so often , I have yet to see somebody not happy when travelling there:-)

Why? I wonder dreamily- but I dont want to know the answer yet- I want to discover for myself when I get there


Jet from Delhi to Bombay

I travel a lot inside India and this was my 4th week, consecutive travel, from Delhi to Bombay. In Bombay it was raining and Delhi was boiling hot! Bombay doesn’t allow me time to step out, beyond meetings and Delhi I had to squeeze time out of meetings to catch some fried food that added more calories to me, in Bombay the roads frustrate me, in Delhi the roads are heavenly to drive on, Bombay despite the madness there is some sense and sensibility that prevails, in Delhi - the heat drives all sense and sensibility out of a human being!

I am, what they call, a frequent flier with Jet Airways in India- a platinum card holder- so I assume that comes with some benefits- but what do you know - the benefits don’t encompass food. I typically am a small but picky eater, who looks for food that is different and beckoning.

This time returning back from Delhi to Bombay- I honestly was working myself into eating dinner onboard- and I saw the menu- the same menu for the last 4 weeks! Now I don’t repeat the same food at home over any 2 days in a fortnight, so how could I deal with the same menu for the 4th week in this plane? Just the sight and look of the food was enough to put me off to sleep. But the hunger pangs grew and I stirred myself to wakefulness and saw a trolley being prepared with desserts, and I said to myself well...lets have this.

What do you know- the airhostess served all passengers in my row and ignored me. I felt very cheated and debated in my head- should I get angry and demand my right, should I tick her off, should I do this...or that- and finally shamelessly when a steward was passing by I asked for some bread pudding which he graciously got for me. One spoon of it and I was ready to throw up- really bad stuff, that. I repented having given way to Satan! I should have continued sleeping and should have been patient circling over Bombay 21st in the landing queue- and let the hunger be.

Did someone say a Delhi meeting again?


Destination, Distinction or disarray?

The Visa process has been bothersome for me, and the worldview was divided- "but it isn’t", "but it is"! And the opinions flew rapidly all around me with experts opining their knowledge on the visa procedures!

I firstly could not put the application form together immediately! Why? I had no idea where my education certificates were! I have never needed to show them as proof to anybody! My sister kindly volunteered to look for them and moved heaven n earth to find those papers- voila! Finally
I was equipped to apply with all armoury, Bless her!

The application was filled by the travel agent, I cursorily glanced through it, not really reading anything- and autographed it with a flourish, in my mind I was saying, “America, here I come”! And the form was submitted to the the US Embassy

Can anybody be so wrong as I was! That one mistake of not looking through all details had me anxious n stressed n agonized n...for ever! The information regarding my name, my address, my job details was so wrong! Who had filled this form? My travel agent. Who had signed this form? Mee! So who was to be blamed here for these mistakes - definitely Mee, because I didn’t take the pain to pour over it!

My interview was now about 12 hours away, and the Travel agent goes online and corrects the mistakes, and submits it all over again!

Morning dawns, I take a printout of the final submitted form, and bravely quell all the nervous ticks and frustration by outwardly expressing calm and being my normal self, I head to the Visa application office, from there get into a rickety, dirty, smelly, sweaty, tin trap called a bus that takes me to the consulate where I get a token and wait for my turn to be interviewed

Now all that angst n anxiety yday and day before and the day before – all of it has created a nervous churn in my tummy and I do my utmost to take my attention away from my nervousness by concentrating on the fellow Indians who are all patiently waiting their turn, some look grim, some nervous, the kids chirp normal and the parents look furtively around. All this stress for what, I ask! Too bad I will not get the Visa- their loss not mine I said bravely to myself. That’s when my nervousness’ stopped n calm returned, My name was called out, I went and cheerfully told them about the award and my trip for the 2 questions that were asked by a perfectly pleasant American lady, and I was outta there! Done! I still dont have a clue if I have got the visa or not, I will only know that when my passport eventually reaches me.

So what was the agony about, I ask myself? I think it all, now boils down to my burning desire, to see the USA- I have been all over the world even to some remote, less traveled paths abroad- but USA has always eluded me- as a client , Starbucks left before they came to India, Mary Kay is here but has an Indian managing the affairs, so what were my chances of getting to the States. You might ask why did I so badly wanted to go there? I am not sure...!

America's marketing of itself has been too effective I think. Schoolchildren can recite its claims to democracy, liberty and equal opportunity as readily as they can associate McDonald's with family fun and Nike with athletic prowess.

On the other hand - much anger too is directed at the U.S. it stems from a belief--voiced as readily in Argentina as in France, in India as in Saudi Arabia--that the U.S. already demands far too much "consistency and discipline" from other nations; that beneath its stated commitment to democracy and sovereignty, it is deeply intolerant of deviations from the economic model known as the "the Washington Consensus."

To my mind the strongest "brand attribute," that shines for the States is its embrace of diversity. Like Bush argued, "in a free society, diversity is not disorder. Debate is not strife."

Not sure if I wanted to close this with a Bushism, but as it turns out , it does capture it for me!

India to England with dadagiri?

Dada has always been my favorite player, and I was happy to see him help us win yday. So if he did do a little dadagiri, it got him and the country some badly needed joy. His spell as captain of India may have been overshadowed towards the end of his tenure by a series of rows with then-coach Greg Chappell but Ganguly's self-confident approach, and refusal to be intimidated by opponents, helped stiffen the resolve of the team as a whole.

Dada's reputation enhanced as a 'golden arm', capable of taking important wickets.
First he had Matt Prior stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and then had danger-man Ian Bell well caught by Dhoni.

India cut England’s lead to 3-2 now! England’s hopes of sealing the series dented definitely , till the next play. It will be nice going to London now.

A Journey, with back to the wall

The frustration of losing the last match, particularly after having England on the mat at 114 for 7, weighs heavy on the mind

I honestly had given up on cricket after the World Cup debacle - but Jim (who is now back home in London), with his sms’s and mails never let me forget that he was enjoying the match at Old Trafford! While I, was grinding my teeth. Then Howard (who also is from London) started saying o me how well England was doing! That was enough of a red flag for me to go back to watching cricket, and the stupid optimism was back, in a team which is so badly looking to find form!

If they don’t go into the game tomorrow with a positive attitude, they can come back home and resign the series to England!

Are we capable of winning, are we capable of turning on the heat, will we fix the No. 3 position soon enough...make me almost, not want to, watch the journey of India’s cricket team today at Headingley!


By lane to main road

Weekend dawns and it is a sign of reducing the throttle and speed of life and cruising the slope on neutral

So with much difficulty I roused myself from laziness and moved outdoors to run errands for home - weekend is all about home isn’t it.

Slid into my swanky clean just washed car and it purred awake with a light touch and we were ready to meet tar now. On my way out from the car park to the lane outside the building, we were in gear 1 and doing just fine, many walkers who took to this lane did so for lack of pavements and rainwater puddles in which one could swim!

Making way, staying away from the cab driver mentality of honking incessantly, I made my way to the main road. All well thus far.

Managing to weave my way from pesty auto rickshaws and the black n yellows who could happily bump into cars with no loss to them, I was well into the main highway now and cruising in 5th gear with much rain pelting the windscreen – the feeling was “ no , not again, I don’t want streets clogging n flooding again’, and for a brief second a good positive feeling too crossed my brain- the rains actually cleanses and makes Bombay look better than reality, the sky looks large and expansive and BKC looks deserted and wide open.

The radio belted top Bollywood songs and I was now driving on auto on the highway - many steps ahead in my mind,already at the laundry and at Patel’s wanting to be done with the chores.

And Bam! A Dumper rammed into a Honda Civic right next to my lane and cars behind screeched, honked in anger for being rudely stopped midtrack. The Dumper driver jumped out and ran for his dear life, and the crestfallen car driver’s door had jammed because of the terrible crush, the damage to front bender and the door, was much, from where I could see. Of course many fine words flew in the air and pandemonium had swung the mood into total alert. I sat there in the car for well over 30mins, the best picture that describes this situation is with my mob camera, and, finally the cops arrived, the roads opened up once again and I was on my way all over again- the rain harder now.