Coming to Austin

For some people, they say, the actual realisation that they are going halfway across the globe sets in only when they are actually seated on the plane. In my case, I think, it never did or never will. Or perhaps I knew it the moment I decided to take my GRE. I realised something very different when I was about to start my journey, however. But I am rushing things here... let me start at where things started.

I started off from home when my dad and brother came to see me off at the railway station. My mother had bid me farewell at home itself. Her face, all so expressive, kind-of lingered with me briefly as I sat in the car and sped towards the station. The wait on the railway platform was eerie, though. The sodium lamps throwing off the white light, the passing of the mighty trains to destinations far far off, and the soft cool wind playing by as the announcements kept coming on the microphone that mingled with the tea-hawkers dusting off their weary kettles and an occasional "Chai-chai" --- you will have to live through it to know what I mean. My train was scheduled at 12:55 that night, and the hour that went by from midnight till then was so poignant and yet so swift --- as if a dream of the last hour when I was together with my family.

Mumbai was flooded the day I arrived. Incessant rain and wet humid roads did not make a sunny farewell. Anyway, after reassuring everyone that things were fine, I started off the next night for the airport. I reached there and met other students who were travelling like me and with me all the way till Austin. People were surprised at the relative light weight with which I was travelling... I mean, one full bag or 23 kilos less. But then, 13-year hostel veterans know exactly what they'll need and what they will not! The fun of reaching America had already begun, with so many new friends to meet, so much to know and so much to experience.

Because I had already travelled before, I was in general trying to throw tips around casually.. you know--- keep this on top, the emigration officer will need to see that ticket, etc! ;) But at this point one of the friends noticed it and started pulling my leg over it; so I quit being the guide and became a face in the crowd again. I did not have a window seat... had an aisle seat instead. Which was better... because there wasn't a new sight outside, but on a 22-hour flight, it was important to be able to move about at times. Frankfurt turned out to be a huge airport! And the 6-hour gap between our flights seemed to somehow stretch on through most of the day. As we squatted on the floor, I managed to cling on to my record of not having won anything on a chess board for 6 years :( But things were ok otherwise, and soon we were on the next flight. But a half-hour delay at the start here in Frankfurt translated into a half-hour delay at the port of entry, and then customs and immigrations ensured that we missed the connecting flight to Austin.

Since we were not prepared to spend green bills just to lodge over the night, Washington Dulles International airport served as our beds for the night. We took turns calling home, waking up people at sleepy hours to tell them that we were not at our homes yet, but that we were safe and they shouldn't worry. The case was the same with everybody: it was kind-a easy to tell dads about the situation and get them reassured. Convincing our mothers that we were ok took double the time, and I am sure we did less than half the job at that. Bagels and apples and energy drinks served for dinner, and a little dozing off now and then did not do any harm as well. The next morning, a hop-skip-and-jump through Chicago via connecting flights and a fast-food lunch at McDonald's later, we reached Austin at about 4:00 in the afternoon.

We found others who had been routed differently waiting for us at the airport, with their own luggage and stuff. You could almost see the weariness and jetlag on everyone's faces. But there was also the glee of having reached Austin. After hiring a supershuttle, we were off to our homes. I luckily had a place of accomodation fixed, roomies fixed, etc. We washed up and although I hate to admit it, a bath seemed to freshen me up so much then :) Soon, my room-mates came home from their offices, and one person volunteered to give us an unofficial detour of the campus, peppered with his comments and quirks, from time to time. I laughed so much that evening, and then suddenly remembered that I had to call home as well!

The call to home was just like it had been for some time now... so good to hear the voices at the other end. But as I was talking to dad, he told me, "Remember what I told you the night before: stick to your goal!". And I remembered: that I was far off, that I was actually halfway across the globe. You know why that happened? Because before I had left my room in Bombay to catch the flight, I had called home. And then, for the first time in my life, perhaps, I had sensed tears in my dad's voice, asking me to stick to my goal, do what I had renounced so much in life to achieve! It was then, perhaps, that I had realised that I was actually going to be far away. But never mind, 13 years this way and I am used to it, almost...

Comments

  1. Hehe looks like I am addicted to your blog!
    Wow Wow! I cant stop saying this... Made your day again eh?! How long does it take for classes to achieve your goal start?

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  2. hmm bhai once agin u did it and i guess this was one of ur best ...
    :)

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  3. you know what? This mad eone hell of a fast post, where you skimmed through the events of a week so fast, that was exactly what i was wondering rather than the details (of which i have an idea), that how could you manage to write this way.. with a flow...

    enuf of compliments for the day, hope you are grinning ear to ear.

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  4. Poornaa, hey! Thanks... and yes you made my day again! My classes begin on the 30th... so maybe I'd try to push in a few more posts before I am swamped :)

    Varun, Bhai, that was flattering... thanks!

    Sunshine, yeah, I guess things just flowed. Thanks... and yes I do have an ear-to-ear grin right now! :D

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  5. Welcome sire.

    Welcome to the land of Bushy dearest. Oh jeez, you could have dropped a line about your travel buddy - Dulles is so nearby to me!

    Welcome to Umrika - thou shall now miss the desh ki mitti. Somehow you'll start missing even the smallest of things now hehehehe!

    Though Austin's a good college town :D

    Suyog

    And oh, everything is big in Texas :D

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  6. The paragraph about the railway station was so there! I could almost feel the railway station, imagine it. Have always had a fondness for trains and railway stations tho they always leave me a bit sad *doesn't say much bout me does it?*

    ms. anony mouse sky :)

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  7. Supremus, only if I had known!! And besides, I was having trouble in accessing your blog for some time then... so was kind-a thinking where you might be.

    That missing thing is over now... no longer missing stuff. And yes, in Texas, things are big, and they are hot!!

    Sky, so... it was you all along! I was wondering. Yes that railway station always has such a strange look and feel to it.

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  8. im so glad for you! hope you have agreat time and study haaaaaaaaardd!!
    well. lol have tons of fun too!! :D

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  9. Congrats Sudipta. Hope you cherish the days at a new place and come out with flying colours!!!

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  10. Grafxgurl, yes, thanks! Thanks a lot!

    Alka,thanks a lot again! :)

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