systemhalted by Palak Mathur

First Day in USA

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Leaving India was not easy. If there would have been no one, probably it would have been but with Shalank being there, it was not. Also, past one year we all (Mummy, Papa, Shalank, Priti and Calvin, our dog) were staying together. It is fun being part of family, but parting with the family is equally painful.

We left India on 14th night. It was my first international flight. Priti has been to Dubai once last year so it was not new for her. I was scared and with Priti’s condition, I felt more responsible. Responsibilities irritate me sometimes. But not this time. It is special. However, my attitude toward them remain the same. I hope after the fact it is not the case.

I had been talking about Priti’s condition. You might be thinking what condition or would have guessed by now. Yes, if you guessed it right, she is pregnant with a two month baby. Or should I say like it is being said these days - we are pregnant. Actually, people will believe that I am pregnant too as I have gained so much weight.

Now, coming back to the journey. We had to catch the flight from Mumbai Airport. It was British Airways Economy class flight from Mumbai to Heathrow (London), Heathrow to Dallas and finally from Dallas to Kansas City. It was frustrating that at every airport you are treated like criminals in the name of security. The color of our skin makes people think that we are going to explode or we are doing some Visa fraud to reach USA. I was checked at every airport - Mumbai, London, Dallas. London and Dallas you can understand but the same treatment in India? Why? Because we are Indians? I think no other country treats their citizens like India does. If you are not a VIP in India then you are as good as not being a citizen. The only good thing that happened though was wheelchair access for Priti provided us an advantage of bypassing most of the lines and queues.

Kansas City was peaceful. We reached Kansas City at around 9PM and called Super-shuttle as suggested by Shazia. We were not expecting it to be too cold outside, as it was February and we never considered taking out our Mobile and checking the Weather app. Ignorant of the fact about prevailing weather conditions, I stepped out but as soon as I stepped out I realized one thing - that we need to open our luggage right now and take out our wind-cheaters - it was damn freezing outside and we won’t survive without them.

Soon, we got the call from the cab driver and we were on our way to Hotel. On our way to hotel from airport, we were checking the area like a new born. The roads, buildings, sounds, smell, everything was different. It was not India. We were in United States of America. That is one of the few feelings that one cannot describe. It is a mix of fear and excitement and few other feelings that are really hard to express in words.

We reached hotel at around 9:30 PM - Hyatt. Finally! Oh! Wait. Not so easy! We reached the wrong Hyatt. We had to go to the one on 112th St but we reached the one on 110th St. Anyways, I had to load the luggage into the Hotel’s shuttle and that took us to our final destination for the night.

The lady at the front desk asked for my name and credit card but I was so tired that I was not able to hear anything. My ears were buzzing with a strange noise with all the exertion of carrying the luggage twice and also the very long journey of around 30+ hours. Whatever the lady said, it didn’t reach my ears. It was like watching TV on Mute. Thanks to Priti, she managed the situation well and we were finally in our hotel room.

After reaching hotel room, we connected to hotel’s internet and checked emails. Akhil had sent me his calling card details so that I can use it to call back India. We did that and informed everyone that we have reached safely. I also called Shazia to let her know that I have arrived. She said that she will be coming in the morning to take us to Bank of America to get account opened and to get a wireless connection - two very important things.

We had dinner as salad from the cafeteria in Hyatt and came back to the room. It was starting to snow. Our first experience. It was straight out of a fairy tale. We watched snow fall for some time and when fell asleep. Thus ended the first day in America.

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