So I flew. I flew over the mountains and the seas. I flew leaving my country, my family, my comfort. My comfort is what I make of it, my friends are what I make of people. Family is what I make my friends to be. And my country is what I make of my surroundings. I would be exposed to International environment. Everything International starts in the United States of America (USA). The land of plenty. The land of ahimsa (non violence) did not care much about its own status. Similar is the case with the land of opportunities, land of rising sun, land of setting sun, land which has no sun and so on. It is this alternate beginning, a thread or branch that would be elaborated here. This is just experience and if there is any spicing up, then that is to be taken lightly at your own convenience.
I started from Kochi, my destination is Buffalo. I am once again moving out of job to school. I got admission to State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). Something which I could be proud of. And we; me and institution will be mutually sharing our names. Affiliation may be for the low minded. But that is the rule of life. We always stand on shoulders of giants. The steps to success is shortened by education, even more by affiliation, and yet more by personal effort and commitment to one’s motives and ambitions.
How I got admission is a separate story on its own. In short, I applied , got admission and got visa, got ticket and flew. I did not repeat my mistake of not using facebook this time. I got my future roommates through this. My apartment was awaiting my arrival. And my future roommates were bang on time to pick me up from Greyhound station in Buffalo. And I have settled well with time and resources. So what next. The sharing of the story, of course.
I had my journey from my workplace, Chennai, the city which had fed me, helped me travel and see a lot of places, friendly people and the unforgiving summer. I will never forget the summer in Chennai even if it freezes in Buffalo, shivers me in the Rainy Miss Buffalo Cruise on Erie Canal, Buffalo or drains me in the Maid of Mist in Niagara. And no one would ever believe that Chennai was the place were I saw hail storm for first time in my life (this video was taken and loaded on youtube by someone at that time). So, I had this trip , in my favourite, my second home, the divine Chennai Express (yes! the train) from Chennai. The travel left a lump in my throat. I always wanted all my Chennai Express trips to be my last trip. I had not hated the summer of Chennai ( which is throughout the year 24 x 7) any lesser, in any day. There are lot of facilities that the city gives, most importantly the job, the music , the marina beach and the USA consulate general. But I like the MTC buses too. And one month into my stay in USA I had Chennai as my second home. And super excited to meet a Tamil guy eventhough they are loud and noisy sometimes but almost always friendly and pleasant. From that last trip by MTC bus to and fro the USA Consulate General I had an empty mind. The future is always uncertain. The way the University of Calicut has trained its students, any uncertainty could be overcome. So there I was looking outside the windows at the greeneries which wouldn’t see me for a long time. I am going for a Master’s in Electrical Engineering at the UB. What would the grass know? Or do I know? Does it even matter the grass!
I had to leave the country being sent off by my parents. And so I had a long holiday at home. Jobless and happy as it could be. The flights were booked, bags were getting filled up. Mostly the clothes . Most importantly underwears. Because the laundry cycle depends on it. The airways company was contacted for baggage information. Learned that I could carry 3 baggages each 23 kgs, a shoulder bag and violin. So it was.
Boarding at Kochi was like walking to a bus stop. I had flown all over the country so this was yet another trip. Boarding Jet airways , getting clearance and all was real fast. I chilled out at the airport. And ate whatever I had , some snacks made by mother and just watching people and waiting. Then the plane came picked me up. All luggages in tact, 3 in check in , a shoulder bag and violin with me as cabin bag. The jacket on me with important documents, ticket, passport and few toffees,mobile and that is it. The trip was eventless. Food was good and then we landed at Abu Dhabi. It is important to note this because Abu Dhabi has US pre clearance facility. This was un-planned but anyway good things happen. I could find a person in coat shouting out to people where which flight was, I heard the word Nagoya in between.
I had to get a new ticket for the onward flight. Got it promptly. I did not receive any tag for the bags. I was told that my check in bag will be taken care of, Etihad from Abu Dhabi was a code share partner of Jet Airways. This left me with my cabin baggages, which was , as expected pretty heavy. Then I roamed the place. Found it as interesting as any other airport. I got a coffee for some dirhams. Yes! Coffee! and could not bother the conversion rate at that timeless hour.
The biological clock worked excellently within me. The call of nature was duly attended at the spacious restroom in the airport. One could actually live inside that, it was big and clean and pleasant. Then I had this queue for US pre clearance. I stood in the queue.Queue was big, I was sleepy and there was silence which aided the standing sleep. I got some slip to write my details and was led to a place where people fill up the form and go to counters of US pre-clearance. I had mine filled up in the sleep-standing queue. So I located an officer in the counter who nodded at me to approach him. I had my shoe belt and all stuff put on a basket. For this purpose it is important as my father said to keep the shoe in a plastic bag, and have an hand-sanitizer handy. I asked the office some questions regarding the declarations. I could see my three bags photographed and displayed on the screen. I was happy to see them. And then I had the admit stamp on Passport. I was out the place while most of the people were still inside. When I came out I had this dreamy feel. So I asked the security if I had been sent after check really fast, or did I miss something, or is there any other procedure to do, for I did not see any people come out other than me. Then there was this endless wait. I could not suppress my sleep. I laid on the floor. The carpet was good and I could sleep peacefully. The light inside was as bright as daylight but I couldn’t care about it. I set an alarm and had a long sleep. Later I asked the security guard again about the flight arrival. He was very happy guy and replied nicely. I waited for some more time and then I could enter the gate.
The Etihad airways onward had some fancy looking clothing for their associates. There was a bus which would take me to the plane. I felt the humidity of night air for another time. And then very soon I was inside the plane. This plane was big. Seat was big. Headset was big. Once the flight started the number of choices to watch onboard was also big. However, I did not get a neck pillow while most of the others had. Blanket was good and the headset did a good job of cutting out the cold. There were a lot of drinks in juices and others offered in flight. Food was good. And again the restrooms were better than local airlines. This was a long leg for most of the people. The person next to me was from Thailand . And that was reflected by her continuous sleep. I felt that my journey is so short in comparison. I also slept for most part with peace. Food was served at good intervals. I would switch between movies, food and sleep and repeat. There was this eye mask which read “do not disturb” on one side and “wake me up for food” on another. As you guessed correctly I had the latter facing outward. 16 hours or so later, I heard about USA and tracking of flight. People still in sleep state were somewhat alert. After some more food and juice it was landing time. Just like any other landing. And then I had arrived at the domestic terminal in John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport , New York. I could not find anyone to put seal on my F1 Visa. I waited for my luggage quite a long time. There were non standard luggage sizes, mattresses and what not that travelled on the conveyor. The trolley was charged at $6. There was a man who gave change as the machine ate the right amount that he fed in. This releases the trolley that I could take. I waited a long time. Airtel Mobile had range. I called up relatives. They were already there and had a trolley for me. I should have called them earlier at $2 to save the trolley money.
Rest of the story is like anyone who goes to their relatives place. Jet lag followed me for a few days. It would hit me hard on right time, my critical periods of sleep, back home. The feel was awesome. And as my relatives said I had to hold on for the first few days without sleeping much in the evening, which was the night time in India. So I tried, and after a week emerged an adjusted American Biological Clock. Greyhound from New Jersey would later take me to Buffalo.
On the way there was rain, I saw some major places like Binghamton, Ithaca,Syracuse, Rochester and finally Buffalo.And then as I have already told you my friends picked me up to my new accommodation.
If this amounts to be readable or a reference then it is good. I do not believe that I had a unique or obliquely different experience than most of the people. . This is because I tend to believe that I am you and you are me. Somewhat spiritualistic statement touching upon religion and emotions but still works perfectly fine. I know many of my friends would like to know my journey details If I had missed something, please feel free to e-mail me.
I thank the many instances of motivating fuel for putting this up, from family and friends alike.