Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My journey in the US so far...

It seems like yesterday... I was in my office mustering up the courage to put down my resignation. My husband was getting relocated to US and the obvious choice (then) was to join him.

I stepped out of my boss’ cabin and it seemed as if everybody knew about it... Like some ‘breaking news’ on AAJ TAK!

‘Congrats!! You’ll be going to US; which place? New York? Great; it’s the best place you could ever go to; finally you’re out of all this; enjoy your life; it’s like a dream come true; and so on… The next one month at work was flooded with similar comments, feedbacks and advices.

Probably the time in between was the best time... Meeting parents, relatives, friends, shopping, packing, planning… Lots of excitement in life... It was a welcome break from the usual routine life I had been leading for the past 4 yrs. Home-office-home.

With such a lot of hustle-bustle, I didn’t even realize the days passing by and I was in US. Even the flight was Air India and the time went by listening to Indian music and having Indian food.

Stepping out of the airport, I started realizing that I had finally landed in US. The streets, roads, high rise buildings were things that we had always been seeing in movies. Though it wasn’t a huge difference as these days we have a lot of similar buildings in Bangalore too.

Our hotel was in New Jersey. Jet lagged, we preferred to take a little more rest and then step out somewhere in the evening. There was an Indian street situated next to the hotel. I’m sure no one could ever say that it’s not India. I remember telling my hubby 'we get to see a lot more foreigners in Bangalore than we are seeing here'. New Jersey has a huge Indian population and you can find everything that’s remotely Indian. I felt like I was strolling in some street in India in my dreams.

A couple of weeks went by just roaming around on the streets of New York, getting to know the place. There are lots of big malls but again these do not strike us a lot coz the mall culture has come up in a big way in India too.

The biggest difference I found here were the roads and infrastructure. New York and New Jersey is well connected through rail. There are mostly wide roads, well maintained and very convenient to drive on. The traffic rules are quite stringent and people do not dare to break them.

Days went by and gradually all the initial excitement starting fading away. When you’re used to working, trust me being at home (homemaker, housewife... call it whatever you may) seems to be the most difficult thing on earth.

Now the most important thing for me was to get a decent job wherever possible.
Working in US is also not easy for everyone. Most people on dependant visas are legally not allowed to work here. I was lucky, as I was allowed to work here but had to get an EAD (employment authorization document). It took about a couple of months to get that too and my job hunt began.

But before I could get confirmed by any company, thanks to the recession, all the jobs seemed to disappear from the market. I can’t say about others but this recession did hit me badly.

Having given up all hopes of working here, I decided to have fun as long as I could and then go back to India and work. The rest of 5-6 months went by shopping, travelling and ‘chilling out’.

I’m glad I came here, as staying in another country for a substantial period of time changes one's outlook a lot. There’s a lot of personal growth, some known to us and lots unknown to us. It’s actually like coming out of the well and seeing the world, watching/interacting with people from almost every community/background/religion etc.

We had come to US in Aug’08 and decided that I’ll go back to India in sept’09, get a job and settle down there. My hubby would join me by the beginning of 2010. This was our next plan of action..

While we were all busy planning out all our shifting, selling household stuff, getting tickets and various such things, I suddenly got a call for a job interview. To my luck, it went well and I got selected. Now I have to join by Sept’09.

Once more, all our plans have changed... Now I’m gearing up for a new job, getting jitters every now and then, preparing myself for a new beginning (or will it be the beginning of the same old routine??).

Whatever it is, I really feel that strange are the ways of life. You get things when you least expect them!!

There’s a quote which I often remember...

“A man was walking on a shaking bridge. He prayed for help... he saw God on the other side of the bridge and asked God to come near, but God didn’t come. Man got angry. With great difficulty he crossed to the other side and saw God holding the broken bridge! Trust HIM. HIS ways are amazing!!”

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Magic Of "Harry Potter"

Harry Potter has probably divided the world in 2 kinds of people...

1) Who are just crazy about the series and get a smile on their faces on just the mention of terms like ‘muggle’ , ‘hogwarts’, ‘quidditch’ etc..

and 2) Who constantly keep thinking ‘what is all this fuss about Harry Potter? Isn’t it supposed to be for kids? People have probably gone really crazy... and so on...

I was introduced to the world of Harry Potter by one of my colleagues. She was always high on ‘Harry Potter spirit’ and didn’t need any reason to give me the first 3 books of the series to read. It just took me a couple of days to jump from the 2nd lot of people to the 1st one. Harry Potter is indeed an addiction and there’s no denying that!

After that I’ve tried to bring almost everyone I know from the 2nd lot to the 1st... Alas... No luck till now!!
There was a time when I wished really hard that any of my family members or close friends get into the ‘Harry potter fan club’ so that I could have ‘Harry Potter’ discussions with them! (Quite childish, to think of it)

Movies have always been a disappointment for me (reading a book is always more captivating than watching a movie). However, since I had watched all the 5 parts, I had to see the 6th one too.

So last week we went to watch ‘Harry Potter and the half blood prince’. I managed to drag my husband along with me... Poor guy... He hasn’t read even a single book and there he was sitting in the theatre trying to understand the movie. (I should really thank him for that!)

This movie is not at all for first timers. To them, it may seem like watching some Chinese movie in aboriginal language. Even for those who had read the book, the movie was quite a surprise. People came out of the theatre wondering why this part was named ‘half blood prince’… forget the rest of the doubts!!

Anyway, this post is not a review of movie and I’m not getting into all of that.

What was surprising was that the euphoria of Harry Potter is very much alive even after the series is over. The story and its end is known to all Potter fans, but the craze just doesn't seem to fade off. The theatre was packed not just with kids, but there where people from all age groups.

This part does leave a lot of unanswered questions….
Will Dumbledore be back?
What happens to Snape?
Will Ginny officially become Harry’s girlfriend?
Will Hermoine and Ron be able to express their feelings to one another?
Is Draco Malfoy really bad?
And so on…

Will have to wait for both parts of the 7th book to get all the answers...

But for now, all I can say is…. Long live the magic of Harry Potter!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Niagara Falls – Nature at its best..

“Have you guys been to Niagara yet?” This question haunted me from the time I came to New York.
It was as if Niagara is THE place to be, and you have wasted your time in US if you haven’t been there.
Another one of the over hyped places. I thought to myself... We have plenty of falls back home but nobody raves about them!

Anyway, we were sitting at a friend’s place and were planning to go out on some weekend... The obvious place was Niagara.
After a month long preparation of renting of the car, booking a decent hotel near the falls and getting the tickets to various rides there we finally set off for THE NIAGARA.
It is a 7 hour drive from New York. With 3 people having Driving License, the drive was quite comfortable.
We reached ‘Days Inn’ at around 11:30 pm. The hotel is at a very convenient location and falls are at a distance of just 10 minutes walk.

Next morning, all fresh and excited, we left for the falls. I was expecting an ethnic mix of crowd but all I could see were people from India (or maybe I was noticing them more!)
Lots of places mentioning specifically ‘Indian cuisine’ caught my sight.

We crossed the road and reached the park. Right there in front of us was the mighty falls. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it… It’s so mesmerizing.
The huge crowd gathered to see the falls dissolves in front of it. All you can see and feel is the endless fall, the gentle cool breeze, mist all around, droplets of water splashing on your face... this could only be heaven.

After spending some time there we went towards the queue for “maid of the mist” boat ride. The journey began at the bottom of the Observation tower, where we were provided with a souvenir rain poncho. We wore it and got on to the boat… all around we could see people in blue colored ‘made in china’ ponchos. We secured our place where we thought we could get the best view of the falls.
The boat ride began… it took us to the base of falls through the crashing waters and massive rock formations. We all could experience the power and intensity of the falls.
It was an experience I never had before. There we were standing in the midst of the roaring fall. Hadn’t heard a roar so pleasing to our ears!!
The entire area was covered by mist and the demarcation between the fall and the sky was almost invisible. It’s said that if the sky is clear and sunny, a rainbow is seen at the top of the fall... Something we missed that day.
Nothing can be better than this… Nature at its best... was all we were talking among ourselves.

Well, the next ride was even better! ‘Cave of the winds’ is what it is called. We were again given yellow colored ponchos and this time footwear too. There were wooden walkways which took us closer to the falls than we could ever imagine. It was good fun climbing the stairs with water splashing all over us. And finally we reached the top which is called the hurricane deck.
We probably spent a couple of seconds at the hurricane deck, but lots of people kept going there again and again. Apparently standing beneath the falls and touching the rock on that back of the falls is a huge adrenaline rush. It’s something you have to really experience to appreciate.

Completely soaked by then, we went to the park to get some sun and dry ourselves up.
It was a lot of adventure for the day, so we preferred to relax for the rest of the time. Couple of hours later we came out and spent some time watching a rock concert happening just next to our hotel.
Tempted to see the falls again, we went back to the park to have a glimpse of the falls at night. The falls were lit in the colors of rainbow- It seemed magical! And then to our surprise fireworks started at around 10:00 pm. Gods must be really happy with us!!

It was a long day, but a truly fulfilling one.

Next day we went to the Discovery centre and an aquarium. There were a couple of places we had to miss due to lack of time.

Post lunch we headed on our way back to New York… back to the usual routine life… with a smile on our faces… beauty of the falls still lingering in all our minds!!

Yesterday I met a friend of mine and no prizes for guessing the first question I asked her … ‘Hey have you guys been to the Niagara yet??’

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thats me !!

Even my orkut page says today “inactivity can be fun for a while, but you have to be doing something to be happy”
Does it know my state of ‘just chilling!! ‘these days? Is it out in the news somewhere??
Gosh.....Makes me feel that I’m the only one on the planet spending time doing literally ‘nothing’.

Well... I guess today will be the day when I’ll finally pay some heed to my sister’s constant advices of 'start doing something… at least blogging! '(Don’t get the impression that she’s elder to me!)

Someone once said (or was it me) 'laziness is something that grows on to you. The less you work lesser you feel like working'. That’s exactly how I am these days. I can’t even remember when I had so much free time in my past 28 years.

Oh no no... Don’t get the impression that I’ve been doing absolutely nothing. I did some painting and I’d like to believe that I’m good at it. A friend gifted me a canvas and I was full on to it. But now that the painting is complete, laziness has grabbed me again. Will go out and buy another soon. Even better... will someone pleeee…ase gift me another canvas!!

Thinking of the positive side, I’m spending a lot of quality time with my husband which is good for our relationship (that’s what all of my friends say)
Yeah right!! We do get some time between his office, calls to off-shore (in case you’re not from IT, that’s the office in India) and then trading till post midnight...

Having said all that, I really can’t complain. This is the break in my life I had been longing for years... travelling, seeing places, just doing nothing for hours, painting, reading, writing.

I really don’t know what took me so long to start a blog, but I guess now I’ll keep it alive (till laziness takes over it too) .

Till then.... Cheers !!