Its Saturday, 7th March. I’m standing on the lower half of the escalator, smiling because I’m nearly at the boarding gate # 47, 5 minutes before my flight is scheduled to depart from JFK airport for Delhi. I’m smilingly messaging my Manager that I made my flight and will be able to make the Monday morning meeting despite the flight goof up. I hear a distant rumbling sound but blame my senses for being tired after the frantic 2 hour dash from Newport to JFK, changing trains, fighting with a bunch of college boys over a taxi, and losing to them, finally getting a taxi at Christopher Street, then breaking down when the cab gets stuck in traffic 2 kms away from the airport, hunting for my suitcase in the baggage storage and finally giving up when the air train takes 5 minutes longer at Terminal 7, convincing me I’ll never reach T-8. The rumbling sound gets louder and I take a break from the blackberry to turn to see where its coming from. A big black suitcase is tumbling down the long escalator, looking bigger as it gets closer to my face. I turn around, and run down the escalator but the speed at which the sound gets louder is faster than mine. I barely manage to turn left on the last step of the escalator and miss the suitcase by an inch. Its about 4.5 minutes to my flight now and I’m sweating. The events of the last few days flash past me as I drag my slightly fearful body to gate # 47.
I stayed over at Iyer’s at Newport last night. We spent the evening yesterday with Rubber and Nithya at a Rissotto place on 6th Ave, after which we went over to play poker at Newport with a group of ex-IIM banker types. Iyer and I sat up all night, chatting about people, rather amusing ourselves with funny stories, and some times overwhelming stories about almost every individual we have in common
Before I met Iyer last evening, I was in Manhattan. I was going to spend only a day in New York. I spent the afternoon with Ahmed. I met him at the airport waiting for the sky train- we both found each other looking familiar- he offered to help me find my way from JFK to Manhattan. Ahmed was nice- he’s a second generation Indian living in the States, a medicine student now doing his PhD, and works at the airport part time. We spent an hour on the train, stopped at Grand Central and then hung out at Times Square. I mentioned I love Dunkin Donuts so we spent another 30 minutes looking for quintessential American coffee. We eventually settled on Starbucks where we spoke about our lives, backgrounds, stories, favourite evenings, current relationship status, interests outside of work, food we liked and favourite places in the world. He asked me if the India I live in is actually what they show in movies like Fashion. In our conversations, I lost two Metro cards, dropped my bag a few times and almost got run over. Each time we crossed the streets of Manhattan he would hold my hand, chiding me hopelessly for not looking before crossing, as if he knew I had been a careless pedestrian my whole life. He knew I had plans to meet Iyer that evening so at about half past six, we said good bye to each other, not excchanging contact details and still not imagining how two complete strangers ended up spending half a day in NYC together, grinning more than laughing throughout.
Yesterday, morning of 6th March, I finished 7 days of training in Miami, which is another interesting account of how a firm can manage to recruit people, across 40 offices, all of whom have so many characteristics in common, and get them together in one place.
On 27th Feb, BB and I reached Miami after ~30 hours of flying from Delhi to Miami, via Brussels and NYC. I was generally kicked about the whole trip because of all the niceness the trip was filled with. To start with, this was the first time since Bali that BB and I were travelling together. Also, both of us had managed to upgrade ourselves to First Class, which I have to say is an altogether different level of luxury, and I’m afraid is sort of a forbidden fruit. And then the goodness started to follow.
At the immigration check in Delhi airport, the officer gave me a verbal pat on my back for not fleeing India to earn in dollars overseas. Then on our way, I met a lovely American lady who didn’t hesitate to complement me on my henna. The immigration officer at JFK looked serious, but did mumble a ‘That’s’ some smile’ when I flashed all 32 teeth into the immigration check camera; another African American dude curiously asked BB and me about the Henna and whether I had got married recently; Finally, after collecting my bags at JFK and before I boarded the flight to Miami I was held up randomly for special baggage screening. The officer was ~24 years old, cute with South Asian features, and clearly amused at the condition I had kept my passport in. BB thought he was cute too. I didn't know if he was Indian but remembered reading a Muslim name on his badge- Akbar or may be Ahmed. We left, smiling to ourselves for having had a great onward journey to the States.
I’m now on my way back, lying on a flat bed in Jet First, probably flying somewhere over the North Atlantic. Every one around me is asleep. I’m wide awake, wondering if life can either be easy or interesting. The Dev D soundtrack is in my ears.