Sugarfree Lovers

February 28, 2012

Trip to the USA

We all love to see new places, explore new things, and understand different cultures. I too love all this and somehow till now I got to travel many places. And one common thing in all these trips was this that I did most of them without my family. Sometimes I was with friends, sometimes all alone and that gave me the chance to meet many interesting people around the world.
I have a hobby of observing people (you may not count it one but I do). I see how they talk, what they talk etc etc and make my imaginary story about them. Recently I went on a business trip to the USA. I was very excited at the same time tense about going there. Because last time when I traveled abroad I mostly survived on fruits and chocolates, I am a vegetarian and someone who is sensitive to sea food smell, food options were very limited to me. However this time I was more hopeful as I was booked a hotel room with small kitchen in it so that I can cook whatever I want to eat.

The journey was long and tiring but as soon as I landed at san francisco excitement wiped off all the sleep and tiredness in me. The guy who came to pick me up from the airport was an Indian. I wanted to look outside window to get the first look of Silicon Valley but this guy was more interested in knowing how India is doing without him. When he started discussing about the Anna Hazare’s impact on Indian politics, I asked him when he visited India last. He causally said from last 20 years he has not gone out of USA. That made me believe that whichever part of the world you be, but your own country always remains close to your heart.

Most of my time spent there in the office, but weekends we used to make it a point to go out and see new places. One weekend some colleagues decided to visit Stanford University. The idea of visiting a university did not attract me much although it was better than sitting alone in hotel room so I went with them. The campus was huge and an inter University football match was going on there that day, so it was very crowded too. People were dressed in their favorite team’s jersey to support them. This enthusiastic atmosphere made me remember the enthusiasm people show during cricket matches in India. Guy colleagues decided to watch the match and I along with other girl in team went to walk the campus. We saw a church in the middle of the campus, it was beautiful. A wedding just finished there and the bride and groom were busy posing for the photos outside the church. Seeing them I remembered my wedding day, which happened just 2 months before I left for the US. Seeing the smiling faces of the bride, groom, their family & friends I felt in whichever culture the ceremony is done it always brings happiness and warmth in the family.  

One Sunday I had nothing much to do so I walked to this shop called Michaels. They have all kind of art and craft supplies available with them. I saw many things there which I have not found in India. I went to their painting section and was checking out some painting brushes, when this lady came behind me and said flat brush will be good for oil painting. I turned to her, she pointed to the stencils I had in my basket and asked me “Are you going to make cards?” I shook my head and said “Ya… may be once I am back to India I will make some”. “Wow! That’s nice. You know handmade cards show that you really care, it shows your love” She said to me and I smiled in agreement. And then we roamed the whole shop together, she told me about some other place I can get the art supplies from. She also selected some handmade papers for me and we spent nearly 1 hour talking and roaming in the shop. I was amazed how one hobby made two complete strangers connect that well.
Similar incident happened once we visited an Italian restaurant in San Francisco. We got our table and were going through the menu card when this pretty girl came to us to take our order. My other friends placed their order but I had some questions, as many of the ingredients explained in the menu card were alien to me. I wanted to be sure that I am eating vegetarian meal only, so I asked her help. She patiently replied to all my questions and suggested a dish for me, she said it is spicy and I will like it. When I asked her why she thinks I will like spicy food, she said because when she was in India she saw how much people love eating spicy food. We all were amazed to know that she lived in India (Chennai) for 2 years to learn bharatnatyam. That impressed me a lot and made me feel proud on our tradition and culture which attracts people around the globe.
One afternoon we were coming back after a team lunch and in the car I sat in had only ladies in it (all of different nationality). Don’t know from where it started but they were talking about their relationship with their mother in law. I had seen it a lot on Indian daily soaps but never thought that this love-hate relationship holds good throughout the world. I was curiously listening to all of them without uttering a word, for which they pulled my leg saying “you are just married, you have time to experience all this”. J
Many more such big-small incidents happened throughout that trip. I bumped on many interesting people. Who were interested to know about my country and culture and some were very enthusiastic to talk about theirs. Every incident made me think that whichever part of world it is the basic human nature and needs are same.
Every time I traveled inside or outside India I came back home with lots of memories, some good and some bad, some which were lesson for future. After each trip I felt that I evolved in a new me (especially when I traveled alone). It changed the introvert me to someone who is confident about herself. Traveling not just entertains me it gives me a chance to know myself better and concur my fears.

This is my entry for “Around the world withExpedia!” contest on indiblogger.  I know how famous Expedia is there in the USA (many friends suggested to use Expedia for booking domestic Air tickets and holidays in USA), I hope it will create happy experiences for people in India too. Looking forward to travel more with Expedia now in India .

6 comments: said...

Your observations are very interesting !

Unknown said...

Great post Sweta, din't realize it was for the competition, Love doing that too, reading and trying to talk to people to find out what's their world like, be it in India or elsewhere.
most of the times, in our lives, what matters most is, the people whom we are surrounded with, it does not matter which religion they follow, which country they are from, it's just them. And once we break down these barriers, we re all the shame. I always tell people we can never generalise people or societies. Like I hate spicy food, I can't have it at all!

Reshma said...

Your post has wonderfully brought out the fact that the essence of life remains irrespective of the geography and economy.
This post shows you have evolved as a writer and are able to put forth your thoughts in a lucid manner:)

Sweta said...

@Vasu: thanks :)

Sweta said...

@Pooja: thanks pooja :)

@reshma: thankyou gal! :)

Melissa said...

I go to a business trip almost every month. Although I know a lot about Filipinos because I have lots of Filipino friends in my country. It still gives me a shock personally experiencing their culture. Just when you take your flights to Manila until you ride the plane back at home, everything is different and all are great memories to treasure.

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