Saturday, May 28, 2011

By the window

All right I'm on Saturday. This trip has been filled with jinx and the closer I draw to its end, the better it feels. Its not all bad, I'm sitting by the window on the 15th floor at the W in Boston, starting down at Dunkin Donut's, the red bricked city sprawled ahead and the American flag standing tall in multiple places across the city.

I worked from the Boston office yesterday. I knew a ton of people there, which is always a good feeling! A long association with that address .....

Its pleasing to move out of the suburbs for the weekend. The W is of course a luxury this job some times offers, and I gladly accept. But you know if I ever quit my job, I'll travel in a totally different way. Land, sea, air (not but business or first), rustic (but clean) hotels, youth hostels (heck I'm 27!), no laptop weighing me down (a tablet would be goooood). I'm glad work travel is comfortable, but it offers much less to learn and feel, than the way Peepu and I travel otherwise.

I came in by 10 pm last night, after 3 beers and a generally cheerful feeling. I spent last night reading what I love most. And this morning, I'm doing more of that. I'm writing, working, occasional words with the family, a long and hot shower, sipping coffee sitting by the window, wrapped up in a towel, getting liberated by the music playing. I realize how much more lovely I am without clothes than I am with them. I'm certain most people are. We were made that way for a reason.

I'm going to get dressed, in the beautiful chiffon dress I got last week and step out in to the city now. Of course, the world is a little bit of my oyster right now :)

Listening to Umbrella by Rihanna

Saturday, May 21, 2011


This one is for you. I’ve spent a lot of time here in the last 24 months, and I think this warrants a post- dedicated to you, America, not one of the cities within.

First off, the things I love about you:

• Seasons! I love Delhi over Bombay for its seasons, and this country- has so a ton of seasons to offer. Strangely enough, you look beautiful in each of those seasons
• The time zones difference (within and outside). The difference really helps me savour you, because, outside of my will, it cuts me off from home. While that sometimes hurts, it often gives me a lot of time with you and myself
• The connection. The last 6 years have drawn me to you for a number of reasons, and each of those reasons and visits leaves an imprint in the story of my life
• Acceptance. Everyone in this country has the right to fulfill their basic needs. And while that’s true of many countries, there’s certain unabashedness about how America does it!
• The top 10 cities, of which I’m yet to see all: Boston, New York, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles (meh!), Seattle (I haven’t seen this one, but its great in movies!) and San Francisco (next week, if all goes well), and Orlando (not seen this one either)
• You’re home to a ton of Indians- of all types! The 1970s emigrants who run gas stations and convenience stores, those who rose up to elite status and went to pedigree schools, the engineers living in Indian communities, the wannabes in the big cities who are trying desperately to fit in, those who actually fit in, those who don't try but fit in beautifully and sadly, those who humiliate the country and the continent (Galleon being a recent example)
• The variety- in everything! Asparagus, avocado, artichokes (a few years back , I wouldn't have told them apart); food; makeup; wine; home ware; books; coffee; hotels; oh for heavens sake even self-adhesive silicone nipple covers! There’s a choice for everyone and everything
• The hard work. Americans work hard. They sweat and toil for want of more, and they do it well. The unemployed don't chill- they want to be employed again. The employed deliver their best. You set an example for the rest of us.
• The West Coast. I haven’t seen much it apart from a few forgettable days in LA. Forgettable because it was confined to training in a hotel. There remains something elusive about it. It reminds me of my fave movie- The Graduate. Or Love Aaj Kal. Or growing up in awe of the city called ‘Berkeley’ because I would never be able to study there. And now, the emerging love for all things technology. Yet, I haven’t been there….and may be that's why it stays so beautiful in my mind

There’s many more I like but I’m careful not to step in to the territory covered by multiple websites and travel blogs. Now switching over to what I don't like- brace yourself America!

- The unprocessed food: Cheese, tortilla wraps, pine nuts, ‘fresh’ whole grain, egg whites- there is so much unprocessed food here. I can never trust what I’m putting in my mouth. The Sodium can almost be smelled from a distance. Just this morning, I saw my ‘healthy’ egg white omlette being cooked, with frozen packed egg whites! I’m staying in an up-scale hotel and yet
- Your assumption that my being here for a month on work is perceived by me, as a ‘perk’ of my job. And its my colleagues- from pedigree schools and sophisticated upbringing- who say it more. I enjoy America as much as I enjoy Thailand or Vietnam or the villages of South India. Its more due to who I am! I’m incredibly Indian. I’m here to work and will enjoy myself while I’m here. And that's the size of it
- Your approach towards hospitality. I’m not referring to welcoming a stranger barging in to your house. I’m talking about your hospitality industry. While nothing to cry about, your airlines, hotels, spas are nothing like your Asian counterparts’. I once paid $250 for a spa session where the spa-lady (I won’t call her masseuse) just turned up a jet of water on me. I understand that’s Vichy but that’s all I got. A personally operated shower for $250!
- The excesses. So I’m on the fence about this one. There’s variety, excitement, desire, zest, but at the same time, the wonder has been lost. American teenagers spend their free time in malls- there is little curiosity about the world, happenings, the universe, the forces of nature, literature, history, amongst other things. I see the average Indian child fascinated by a bicycle, a computer, the solar eclipse- I find that missing here. There is little fascination with life….
- Obsession with oneself. This one follows from the previous one. I may be over-doing it but there is an unimaginable obsession with one’s own life- and that’s something I find so conspicuous in this country. There’s little sharing of anything apart from the updates on the awesomeness of one’s life! I have the pleasure of knowing many Americans who aren’t like that- are not self obsessed- and they are wonderful. I only wish to see more of those

As you can tell, I love a lot more than I don't and I’m delighted to be here. You’re definitely a chapter in the story. May be even more, but that remains to be seen…..its a long life~~

Some more time in Boston

I'm in Boston again. Its getting sunnier. When I landed last week, it was freezing cold. I decided to fly Jet to sync my return flight with Peepu's, and what a nightmare the flight was! At first, it seemed tough given the 2 hops between Delhi and Boston, but it seemed doable. In fact, I decided not to sleep much to help the jet lag on landing. All was fine, till I landed in JFK. I was clouded by an awful sinking feeling- not one I've had in a long time. I guess I hadn't really thought what it would be like to be away for a month, and now the feeling was sinking. I was sitting by the boarding gate and just like that, I missed my flight. I didn't hear them announce the flight or my name. The next flight was delayed by 6 hours and after I finally landed in Boston, they told me my bags were lost. I was wearing jeans and a vest and freezing! Of course I didn't go to work on Monday. In fact, I went to mall, to buy work wear. And no, it wasn't fun.

Any way, the week has passed, and I chose to stay back in the burbs this weekend. I've seen the city enough and the burbs give me plenty of time and help me lose that need to accomplish something on the weekend.

So you know the last time I did this case, I didn't travel a single weekend. This time I'm hoping it different. I've made a start by booking myself on a 9 hour long flight to SF next weekend. Its a long weekend, and I haven't seen SF. Of course, people recommended NYC - after all, its the greatest city in the world. Is not! You know, I hesitate to say this to people, but I really find the city over-rated. Its fun for a couple of nights, but its just too loud and noisy. Boston has a charm and a way to relax you. New York is just the opposite. It stresses me out. May be that's because I'm an I, and increasingly becoming even more of an introvert.

So, I'm going to spend this weekend, in the ghost town of Framingham, doing much less. I'll spend some time in the Cafe, with my laptop, walk about a bit, go for a swim, work out a bit, read a nice book. On that, I just got a beautiful copy of Little Women, from Anthropologie- which is now my favourite store in the world. Its not a book store at all. Its just filled with beautiful things! Ceramic, journals, aprons, dresses, linen....and all of them really beautiful!

In other news, I was speaking with someone about the job the other day and realized everyone stresses a lot here. The job has a way of weaving stress in to our conscience. And we are nothing but a bunch of insecure over-achievers. I'm pleased to see I'm a lot less stressed and generally more content than several others around me. I hope it stays this way.

Peeps and I are getting used to the distance again. Its unsettling at first but very much a part of who we are. We speak briefly every couple of days, send each other long emails, smile when we see things that remind us of each other in our respective worlds and then, just look forward to being back, super soon!

That's it for now.....and thanks for reading through.

You know the music: Dooriyan....bhi hai zaroori, zaroori hai ye dooriyan. Its only apt!