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November 21st, 2001 - Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal

November 21st, 2001

November 21st, 2001
12:14 pm

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My journey to Chelmsford
I started from my house in Bangalore on 17th Nov. at 9:30 P.M. I was actually supposed to start at 8:30. But Nadi was supposed to come and collect the house keys from me at 8:00 and I was waiting for him. He didn't come till 9 so I decided I should leave. I went out, made a call to Home and then called up an auto-rickshaw. The house owner's son helped me in putting up the luggage in the rickshaw. I had a big luggage and a small cabin baggage. Earlier, I had a tough time in packing all the things, and I might have verified and rechecked a hundred times whether all things are ok.

I didn't go directly to airport; I went to my colleague Sunil Mumar's house in Domlur. I made a call to my manager Anil Kumar from there and then booked a taxi to airport. Then I called up the Lufthansa office and they told that the flight is overbooked and so it is better to check in early. So, we started at 11 itself. Sunil took a ticket and came with me inside the airport. But the ticket allows him only till the immigration counter. He explained me all the procedures before leaving. ( I don't know how I managed all the things alone when I went to Singapore sometime back).

There was a long queue in the immigration counter. There was one little old man and his wife standing behind me. They were very scared and asked me about the procedures and all, in Hindi. They were going to Washington where their son is working it seems. They told they are traveling for the first time. I told that my situation is also not too better compared to them.

In the check-in counter, the officer gave me an offer: The flight is overbooked, so if I wish, I can postpone my travel to the next day, they will give some 26k as compensation and put me up in a five star hotel in Chennai till the next flight!. I insisted that I have to go the same day.

The security people asked all people to open the cabin baggage and checked everything. That gave me sort of confidence that at least they are doing some checks. By the time the Lufthansa LH755 to Frankfurt took off, it was around 3 AM. I was really tired and felt very sleepy. They served meals sometime later. There was upuma, brinjal curry, Vada , bread, butter etc. I liked the meal. But I felt the flight was not as good as Singapore Airlines. Leg space was very less (almost as much as that of Kallada travels) and there were no personal video screens in the Economy class. There was only common television set for the entire class.

I was in the window seat, but since it was dark outside, I cant see anything. The flight went over Pune, the Arabian Sea, the UAE, Iran, Istambul and Wienna. By the time the sun came up and it was beautiful to see the red colour spreading from the eastern sky and the shining clouds. After some time I could see mountainous regions covered with ice. Probably it was the Alps. When we reached Frankfurt, the local time was 8 AM on sunday, and the temperature was 0 degrees.

My connecting flight was at 11 AM, so I had to wait for 3 hours in the airport. All the information is readily available, so it was easy to locate the departure terminal etc. There were some additional security checks and then one security person asked me whether I am traveling for the first time etc. Some people were sleeping in the waiting lounge. I went to the newspaper rack. All papers but one were German. I took the English paper and spent the remaining time reading some boring news.

The flight to Boston took off on time. We would be flying over the Atlantic ocean and would go near Greenland, so I wanted to sit in the window seat. But my seating was in the middle, so I felt sad. I had ordered for Asian Vegetarian Meals, but that turned out to be nothing but different raw vegetables and some fried rice. But it was tasting good. The movie "America's Sweethearts" (Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones) was playing in the TV set and In watched it for some time. It was really an interesting movie.

We reached Boston at local time 1:00, and the local temperature was 9 degrees (not as cold as I thought). Within one hour I could collect the baggage and pass through the immigration counter. Surprisingly, there was NO security checks at all for the baggage!!. That too, even in this situation. I feel the security in India is far more better.

Fred Lewis from Cisco was waiting for me outside. We had to go through many long corridors and elevators to reach the parking space. I was so confused. Fred is a very nice and helpful person and most importantly, his accent is easy to understand. My apartment was booked at Burlington, Arboretum. It was around half an hour drive from the airport. I liked the nice and clean roads and the road sides. It was a very sunny day and sky was cloudless. The climate was great. The houses, made of wood (it gives better insulation during winter), the trees with yellow, brown and red colored leaves, all looked beautiful. If in India, we could have a nice walk in this landscape. But here there is no concept of footpath, and nobody walks around in the road. Isn't it sad that the nature lies here, so beautiful, and the Americans lead their fast, busy lives, driving their cars as fast as possible? I really wonder what people gain from that kind of a life.

Fred left after dropping me in the apartment. I had a tough time using the keys, as the direction to turn is the opposite of that in India. The apartment was luxurious, to say the least. There is a front room, a main bed room, kitchen, a small bedroom, two bathrooms and all the floor is covered with thick woolen carpet. There is a balcony and glass doors are there all around through which I could see the dense woods outside. The electric heater and AC are a must, anyway. The kitchen has microwave oven, refrigerator, dish washer, gas stove, pressure cooker, mixy, and many of cupboards filled with lot of vessels and cookeries. There was washing machine, Television and DVD player, sofas with thick woolen cushions and pillows, dining table and chairs made of shining wood, large wardrobes, vacuum cleaner etc. etc. I took a bath and took some cookies from the welcome package given by the apartment people. Then I made a call to Sunil MP, my classmate in GECT. He gave me some tips to recover from get lag. I tried to make call to home, but international calls were blocked. I need to buy a calling card to make long distance calls. I was really tired and went to sleep.

I woke up at 4 AM in the morning. Felt very hungry and examined the welcome packet again. There was a packet of microwave popcorn maker, and I experimented with oven. It was easy and I could make hot tasty popcorn within few minutes. So that was my breakfast.

I called for a taxi to go to office, which is located in Chelmsford. The taxi costs $42! I didn't know that we have to give around 10% tip to the driver, so I just gave 42 dollars. I met fred there, got a cubicle and a machine. Another engineer helped me in setting up the machine. I asked for a vegetarian lunch in the afternoon, and took cheese pizza. It was really horrible. Later, Sunil told me that sometimes they put some non vegetarian fat inside cheese also!

Sunil helped me a lot in the evening. He took me to an Indian store, and I bought Dal, Katala, Cherupayar, Basmati Rice, pickles and few other necessary things. It was cheap actually. Sunil dropped me in the home, and we talked for some time. I had brought maggi noodles from India and I cooked it and had my dinner.

The next day I had fruits for breakfast. Evening I went with Sunil to an Indian restaurant and had North Indian Food there. Today morning I cooked rice and took it just with pickle.

It is "Thanksgiving holiday" for tomorrow and friday. So, I plan to take a rental car on friday and practice driving. It is a necessity here.

Reading this will give an impression that I am very happy with the posh atmosphere with the places here. But it is not true. The trees, sky and the land is beautiful, but we cant see any birds or butterflies here. There are no stray dogs and cows wandering in the streets, there is no irregularity of traffic in the road. I have spent only four days here, but I already started feeling that I miss the lack of comfort in India, and I have started counting the days for return.

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