Its been a long time since my last post however here I am back. I lot has transpired over the last two months- my visa interview, my masters thesis defence, senti farewells at IISc, the interview for the Goa Scholars scholarship… and I can’t really believe that I am already in the USA. It happened so fast that I couldn’t even have a farewell get-together with friends in Goa. Guys I will make up for that when I am back . For various reasons, economical included, domestic travel by air was never possible so here I was on my first travel by air, which had to be international ;-)… it turned out to be quite an experience.
|The clouds on my way to Doha... can see the air plane wing in one of the corners|
I was scheduled to leave from Goa at 4:30 AM on the 3rd of August and to be frank I was packing until I got to the airport. At the airport, they told me to lighten my bags by 7 kilos. I had the option to either empty some books or some of the homemade goodies my mother had prepared… you could guess what I did ;-). I next got to know that my flight has been delayed by two hours and hence I would miss my connecting flight at Doha… I was given the option of going upto Doha and then spending the day at a hotel there and then moving on to the US the next day. This was not an option so I tried to haggle a way out of this predicament. By now my entire family was inside the airport ( I had thought that they had left … I guess they knew my first trip would not be uneventful). I had a small mini-conference with my mom and dad and we decided that I should tell them that I have a conference to attend and a days delay would be just too useless. My itenary was finally changed to a new route which would get me to the US at the same time as the original one. I somehow managed not to cry in the final moments as I parted from my family, this time they went back.
|View of Houston moments before landing|
I then had to wait in the lobby for almost 2 hours, it was raining heavily outside. At 6:30 we were finally led to the plane. This was the first time I saw the inside of Dabolim airport and it somehow felt big however when I landed at Doha, I realized how miniscule the airport at Dabolim is!
This was my first experience on a plane - the first experience happens only once - so I video recorded the take—off! What an feeling! Absolutely loved the way we hit the skies, to see the coast below and behind and then the clouds. I had been looking forward for this moment for a long time and here it was manifesting itself before me. I was lucky to have got the window seat and despite being dead tired I decided to stay awake and watch the sky outside. This was one of the few moments when the clouds and may be the ‘sky’ was beneath me! The view of the coastline of Quatar was beautiful… beyond the coast the only things visible were buildings, straight roads and the dry dessert! Not a tree in sight.
|The route my flight took from Doha to Houston|
The transit at Doha was smooth and in no time I was on my flight to Houston. I would be flying for almost 15 hours straight this time which is why probably many faces seemed bored and worried. I was neither bored nor worried, I even felt fresh, after all it was my first long distance flight and I had to make the best of the experience. After fiddling with my chair for quite sometime I figured out how to get the LCD screen adjusted, how to push back the seat, how to open the tray holder and so on. The tray holder would fit into the arm-rest in a true James Bond style ;-). So much for the seat… then the food, it was kinda good. A full three course meal served twice (about 5 hours apart). Most of the journey was then spent watching movies—I watched Dhobhi ghat, Fast five and Kungfu Panda 2. There was a screen which showed the route the flight was taking and periodically updating our position. It is well known ( I guess) that flight routes are chosen along great circles passing through the source and the destination. This route then flattened out on a map is then is not a straight line but a curve (like a semicircle). It was interesting to know that we flew over Iraq, most of western Europe, England, Greenland, Canada and then entered the US from the north.
|The tail of the plane I flew in from Doha to Houston ;-)|
The first thing that is obviously noticed once one enters the US is the size of almost anything. Its huge! Talk about anything… the airport, the restrooms, the trolleys, the queues and even the people! My previous notions of being fat were completely shattered! On my flight from Houston to Miami, there was this guy sitting in front of me with his leg hanging from above the seat… I went in front to check what was up with him, it turned out that it was his hand! Don’t get me wrong though, not everybody is obese but the frequency of finding someone extremely obese is exceptionally high as compared to that in India… I landed in Miami at 11:30 PM local time, on the 3rd of August. The other thing that one notices immediately is the amount of screening one has to go through at the immigration depot at the airport... it is quite a tense moment until the immigration officer says ' Welcome to the USA!' :-).
|Miami on my way up!|
|Miami from above...|
My sister came to receive me at the airport. We walked around Miami beach then chatted by the poolside of our hotel and then finally went to sleep at 3AM. We flew to Ann Arbor, Michigan on the 4th of August. So here I was, finally in the US at my sister’s house… what a feeling it was! Will write more soon... it has been quite an adventure here :-).