This is it!

[I wanted to post this on April 21st, the day we flew out of US. As I was typing the Blog, Comcast disconnected my Internet service! Well, better late than never …]

All good things come to an end. Well, that is the case with me today. It is time to move on and explore other challenges. All preparations and packing have been completed and I had set aside the last couple of days for some self-reflection.

Note: As you probably know, Salmon fish always manage to come back to the same tributary from which they made their way to the sea to spend their adult life. Now why am I thinking about Salmon now???

Am I excited? Yes!

Am I nervous? Oh yeah!

Am I hopeful of the future? Yes!

I feel like a student who has prepared well for an exam, but still get the butterflies on the day of the exam. Hopefully, things will go as planned.

I have completed exactly 13 years in USA. Not a very long time, but long enough. We have reached that point in life where we have to pick a lane, either permanently settle down here or move somewhere else. We have picked the latter option. Time will tell if we made the right call or not.

Though I have travelled extensively with my parents when I was younger (My Dad is an avid traveller as well), to Germany, Italy, England, Belgium, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan etc., there is nothing to beat travelling based on your own efforts. Once I found myself able to afford it, I have set “Seeing the World” as my long-term goal. And considering my travelling ambitions, I figured that I better start early. You can hopefully see the fruits of that plan in the coming years, through various Social Media.

Some highlight memories from my 13 years in the “Land of the free and Home of the brave”:

(A) Travelling through the great expanses of United States

We have travelled through and visited 36 states during our time in USA. As a friend famously asked me once, “Do people go to Tennessee for Vacation?”! Yes, some people do 🙂 Outstanding memories from those trips were:

– The lovely drive from Grand Canyon to Albuquerque (and the speeding ticket in Arizona when my excuse that “I sped because my daughter (who was smiling happily at the cop!) was cranky and I wanted to get to the Hotel as fast as possible” did not fly). Even deserts are a kind of scenery.

– Multiple visits to Grand Canyon, including locking ourselves out of the car deep in the Canyon National Park!

– The truly spectacular Yellowstone National Park and zooming at 110Mph through Wyoming.

– The “Maid of the Mist” experience at the majestic Niagara Falls.

– The flight/car/train cross-country trip from California to Florida, with my Dad and Daughter.

– Scenic Amtrak (“California Zephyr”) train travel from San Francisco to Salt Lake City (through Sierra Nevada) and Denver. Also, the view from Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs.

– Hawaii! The beaches, the languid pace, the expense! etc. Kauai is the most serene of the 4 bigger islands, but Big Island has the most variety, I felt.

– The fantastic fall colors of the North-East.

– The “height” of Manhattan. I remember being totally awed by the tall buildings and the view from the top of the ill-fated World Trade Center.

– The great drive from Memphis to Knoxville. Very scenic and quality time with Country Music (Hey, how else are we supposed to go through Nashville?).

– Miami! Everglades, the mind-blowing drive to Key West and the beaches.

– The Big Easy and the Cuisine there. But man, was it hot in New Orleans (95F+).

(B) Ease of life:

– Roads: Though California (especially the Bay Area) has some of the worst roads in US, on an average, the roads and as a resutt, the driving is pretty easy.

– Customer Service: Though I have had my share of tiffs with the Customer Service folks, overall, I would rate it quite high. Also, there is ease of getting things done over the phone or Internet.

– Libraries: Good ones, where one can relax and spend some quality time with the books. I love the Fremont Main and used to spend time there whenever I could.

– Wine: Over the years, my taste in Alcohol had become distinctly “girly” 🙂 Cant stand Whiskey, Brandy and Rum. Can manage Vodka and Gin. But prefer Beer and Wine. Not sure if I will get such a wide range of Wine in Asia. Let us see …

– Work Culture: Very professional and timely. With my work timings, getting to office was a breeze, as I avoided the traffic.

– Cuisine: Afghan, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian etc. were our favorites. The Indian restaurants in Bay Area are really below par. It is insulting that they peddle such food as “Indian”.

– Cops: Though it is no fun to get a ticket, I appreciate the presence of Cops and the order they bring to the proceedings.

(C) Politics:

– The surreal 2000 Presidential Elections.

– The historic Obama victory.

– Sarah Palin!

– George Bush’s various “speeches” and gaffes. (Thanks Will Ferrell!).

– And of course, I landed in US smack in the middle of the “Blue Dress” controversy! Republicans went to town with that one.

I am sure there are aspects of life in US that we will miss. But, hey, life goes on ….

Adios.

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