Thursday, January 14, 2010

Closing chapter

The time that I spent in America was such a whirlwind of extraordinary experiences that I'd be a fool to try and summarize them. One incident/experience at a time is all I can handle. Back in Calcutta now, working from the same sofa that I had bounced around on as a kid when it was at my grandparent's place, it is hard to think that a month or so ago, I was in such a radically different environment 12500 kilometres away and yet it had ceased to be a surprise despite the glaring dissimilarities. This imperviousness to wonder is not a feeling to be encouraged but it does help a lot when it comes to focusing on the daily chores which are a nagging reality whether the country be India or the USA.

The last few days went by in a flash, almost a faintly remembered dream with my parents coming over and me the wide-eyed visitor to that country from a year ago now the experienced (I'd like to think) guide helping my folks negotiate the streets of New York and the hallowed streets of Cambridge. The final 4 days saw a flurry of activity with 3 cars playing the lead roles in this hallucinogenic phase of time - the fortuitous sale of my dear Toyota Corolla when I had given up all hope of getting a fair price for it; the Chrysler 300, a car which I had lusted after for long rented out to me as an unexpected but not undeserved customer loyalty reward from the Enterprise guys in my hometown of Taunton and then the luxurious behemoth of an SUV, the Lincoln Enclave which was to be the rental to take me to the airport from where I'd take the flight back home. Driving an SUV was a fair conclusion to the multitude of typical "American" experiences that I had had as I drove an unnecessarily powerful and obscenely equipped vehicle (Video cameras at the rear end for reversing the goddamn thing) which occupies pride of place in the ridiculed with a lot more than a tinge of jealousy American lifestyle.

Greenpeace can hate me for it but when tons of snow came down pouring down on that Saturday evening (Our flight was on Sunday), I was glad I was in the comfy confines of the SUV. In fact, I was thrilled. The headlights of my petrol guzzling elephant caught the snow as the flakes rushed down to smother the land and all that lay on it in their spotless sheet of white. But the big boy's toy in my hands made sure that I needn't be confined inside the four walls of my home. The roads were empty and pristine, as were the barren winter-time trees now sprouting flowers of snow. I was doing my closing bit of intrepid exploration on this, my first trip across the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Adventure does not end where the weather goes grey and the crowds thin out. In fact, that is where adventure might just begin.

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