United States of America - A land of dreams, land of Hollywood, land of world power, land of fashion, land of dollars. It is all these and more for me. I had always cherished this wish of visiting this country, observing closely the life of the people here and if possible learn something that will help me in my life. I remember when I was 16 years old, one day, my father came home and announced that he is getting a foreign posting. He said that he was given a choice between New York and Hongkong and he had chosen Hongkong. I was very disappointed with him, but probably he had his reasons. Though Hongkong was a great experience and I loved the city, but my stay in Hongkong made me want to visit US even more. If Hongkong can be so beautiful, so clean, so comfortable, how beautiful US will be.
Well, I must admit, though I wished so much to see US, during my academic life, I didn't work hard enough to earn a scholarship and come to this country. I, kind of, left it on fate. May be my job will take me to US someday, or may be I will marry an NRI, or may be some day I will be so rich that I will very easily afford a vacation in US. I kept waiting and waiting. It seemed all the people I know have been to US and they start their stories with "When I was in US..." and I was still waiting for my chance. And I got my chance. A business trip to San Jose for 3 months.
The thought of staying alone in a strange country was scary and exciting at the same time. At last I will be living my dream. So with thousand thoughts and plans and ideas, I landed in San Francisco on 20th Jan. It was night and the city was so beautifully lit up, as if someone has covered the mountains with a blanket of white and yellow lights. I loved it. It felt nice, everything was new and exciting. I kept reminding myself that I have landed in US. I still do sometimes :).
I am here since one month now. Can't say I have seen much of this country. But whatever I have been able to see and observe in this one month, it has really been my dream come true. This country and its people have not disappointed me. Their warmth, their smile, their easy attitude, and above all, their respect for human life has touched me, impressed me, left a smile on my face. When a person bound to a wheelchair boards a bus, everyone waits patiently till the person settles down. I can imagine the reaction of a bus full of Indians on an Indian road in such a scenario. But then, it is impossible for a person bound to a wheelchair, to board a bus in India. The comfortable life here makes me wish that life was so comfortable in my own country too. When one of the two entrance doors to my office building in San Jose broke and people had to walk in the rain from the parking to the other entrance, they found it extremely uncomfortable and annoying. In my country, when it rains, our parking space gets flooded and we have to walk in knee deep water and we don't find it reason enough to get annoyed since we have much bigger frustrations in life. May be because of such a comfortable life, they can so easily smile at strangers, be nice to them, try to be helpful.
When I visited the city of San Francisco two weeks ago, I fell in love with city instantly. The roads going up and down, dark green trees, narrow winding roads, all trees neatly trimmed and shaped, neat and clean roads, sunny weather, nice cool breeze, everything was so perfect. Everyone so nicely dressed, people smiling and enjoying their time, even beggars singing and trying to make people laugh. It makes you feel as if everything is just fine, there is nothing to worry about.
When I went to Napa Valley, I saw another beautiful side of this country. The breathtakingly beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, miles and miles of vineyards where yellow mustard flowers have blossomed just after grapes have been harvested, big and small picturesque cottages and bungalows. It was as if I have entered a picture postcard. There is nothing ugly, no slum, no dirt to spoil the picture.
I am loving my stay, this freedom, this comfort. No one to question and no one waiting for me. I can catch up on my reading, I can cook if I want to, and not cook if I don't want to. Though there are times when I miss Shailly a lot, who is not only my husband, but my best friend in every possible way. And the thing I miss most is touching my baby, my dog, Coco. But I know that the way my wait for US visit came to an end, this visit is also going to end.
Have I learnt anything? Yes, quite a few things. Dedication to one's job. Whether it the CEO of a company, or a sales girl in a shop or a waitress, they are all trying to prove that they are worth every cent of the money they are earning. Proactive thinking. No one wants to live within the boundaries, they want to expand, new ideas are always encouraged. Semiconductors to memory chips to NASA to SUVs to McDonalds, they were all born in California. And most important respect for fellow human beings. And yes, got some fashion tips too :).