“Oh-my-gawd! Just two and a half months! You gotcha be kidding!!”
Well that’s how my colleague reacted when I told her I have been in the US for the past two and a half months and also that I have visited New York a couple of times. (I don’t exactly see a reason to be surprised, except for that grad students notoriously crib about financial droughts. And yes I am not high-earning either and Maryland rents are enormous ;))
So. The last four months of absence from this place has been precisely due to that. US preparations and a illness interlude. I arrived here mid-august and before settling down into student life, acted touristy for almost a month. After all, he was here to show me around :)
The day after he picked me up from the airport, we visited the University. It is huge! With the jet lag and insufficient sleep, I found it a bit too widely spread out, and my school was through evil designs located at the far end of the campus. We walked all over the place, did the necessary paper-work (God knows what all I signed on!) and went off to Washington DC. Lovely place. Why? Well it reminds me of Pune! Contrary to my imagination of the capital of the US being a fast-paced energetic city, DC is relatively slow and old. I don’t intend to make a value judgment here, it is just a plain statement of my impression.
The first stop was a friend at Friendship Heights. I was awed. Amazing location for a house! Right across the street are some of the most famous brands Gucci, Lee…..The apartment lobby looks more like a hi-fi hotel lobby than an apartment lobby. The balcony overlooks the said showrooms and a long road that seems to reach the other end of the globe. After some refreshing Indian tea we left to see around the place, especially his University. We had to walk for almost an hour before we reached the place, but it was worth it. The entire stretch is lined with some of the best brands and the finest of dresses. (Smart skirts! Sigh!) As we walked my guides for the day pointed out some of the must-visit restaurants, making me hungrier (as if the walk was not enough). Past the restaurants you see lovely story-book houses with manicured lawns and all possible signs of a healthy economy (US or family?) We walked through a canopy of trees admiring, discussing and joking about US houses in general. Inside the University we again walked for a while looking at different departments and schools, admiring the sculptures visible through windows here and there and generally pulling his leg when he said things like, “Oh, that’s a building!” (As if I were Tarzan.)
After a quick dinner, he dropped me home in the metro bus :)
The next day was a Sunday and the place where I live has no public transport out of the place that day. So one day old into the US, I take a cab to the metro station and then changing the train lines at appropriate times reach his place all set for a new touristy day. (Boy was he impressed!) Today our stop was the Smithsonian mall, a huge expanse of land (you would ideally avoid walking across) lined with the famous Smithsonian museums and a place every American is proud of. We intended to see the History museum, but the almost identical architecture landed us someplace full of dinosaurs and gems! It is a huge structure housing dinosaur fossils in all shapes and sizes. I had never seen so many dinosaurs at one place before! And he thought it funny to click pictures that seemed as if the dinosaur was gobbling up my head. Up one floor is the gems section. Now this is something that every single gal out there should visit. Gorgeous diamonds! Some of the world’s best! Necklaces and earring that made me wonder about rebirth and if in one of my births I was the proud owner of atleast a couple of them! (sigh!) As I ohhed and aahed about them he realized the potential dangers that lurk and tried every trick to drag me away from that place. (But too late! I know what I want for the wedding :) ) Tired and in no mood to look at war memorabilia I insisted on admiring the large lawns instead. We located a peaceful bench overlooking the Smithsonian structures, children playing in the vicinity and sat down to catch up on the two long years of judai!