December 17, 2006

Loaded Events ..

December 17, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
Warning : Excessive involvement in the events in this post could lead to boredom and subsequent spurts of dozes which could culminate in incomplete reading. Complaints about events of this kind can be sent to Reader discretion is advised. For more information, please leave a comment in this post.

So, where was I last time ? India ? And then what happened ? Soon after the frustrated bencher post, on the same day (would you believe it ??) I ended up not being on bench :). One of my wishes got fulfilled, to be on a plane, and to land in a foreign land, preferably maybe the U.S of A. And that's precisely what happened, and is making me post this at 12:00 p.m India time, from 10:30 p.m. time in the U.S !

But taking the flight and the onward journey was not without it's share of drama. A connecting flight from Bangalore to Bangkok in the Thai Airways, then taking the United Airlines from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International to Narita (Tokyo,Japan) and then another UA to San Francisco. Sounds easy eh ? Well, it turned out to be a memorable experience. There were 2 of us on the same route, and we really were looking forward to landing in San Francisco in 18-19 hours time. That we would end up adding another 24 hours in the Bangkok Airport, wasn't a decision we took.

A decision that big, had to be taken only after we realised that the UA flight from Bangkok woldn't allow passengers who come anytime later than 1 and half hours of check in time. And the fact that there was only one UA counter in a huge airport at Bangkok and the day being a Sunday (26th Nov.) didn't help matters. The transit time was about 1 hour, and the counter had been closed when we reached it. Stranded in the Thai-Land, 2 veggies would have a tough time getting Veg food in a land more famous for seafood. Slimy pieces of octopuses and other species were staring down the menu list of ours. Finally, a Burger King stall seemed to have solved the food issue for the day. A day, because that UA flight was the only one for the day.

A comfortable lounge though was inviting us, after we cleared the ticket confusion and got it postponed for the same flight the next day. Checking into a tranist hotel, for an expensive 94$ room charge for 6 hours was something of an experience. We were dying to say ByeLand to ThaiLand, and that was to happen in 9 hours time from the time of the hotel check in.

After a rather welcome rest in the comfortable bed of the Tranist Hotel, the morning sun and the sea of clouds visible from the plane were more than raising our spirits. Without any more major events during the rest of the journey, we reached San Francisco safe and secure, bang on time, at 11:17 p.m on Monday afternoon (PST), a day late owing to the missed flight at Bangkok. However, the events at the U.S of A were only about to unfold.

A post this long had to be expected after almost 3 weeks spent in the U.S, at Santa Clara California. And by the length of this post, it would have now been obvious, that I have been wanting to write for long. Getting up on the first day when I have to go to office, with an unbearable cold, coupled with sneezing and walking nose (you know what I mean !), it was all the more difficult to stay wide awake in the meetings in the client's office. If ever there was a term like sleeping wide awake, I probably would have gone through that. Partly owing to Plane Lag(literally, because we reached 1 day late, and still more literally because we came on a plane and not a Jet !). Honestly, I have never felt so sleepy even during the Organic Chemistry classes during my school days.

After the widely awake sleeping syndrome and the walking nose problem, I finally started to get acclimatised to the room in the hote. Well, strange statement, considering the fact that, one uses the term acclimatise to the environment. When there is really cold air blowing around in the surroundings, one needs to take shelter I guess. I was more than happy getting sheltered in the room. But on a serious note, getting out into the open wasn't as regular initially.

One of the options for getting the conveyance done in the U.S is by renting cars. And that's what precisely I had planned for. A week after the bout of cold and acclimatisation got over, it was time to flex my instinctiveness muscles. The opportunity was there when during closing time at the AVIS rental outlet in ElCamino, I was determined to rent a car. Now, it really seemed a simple thing. I had taken driving class in the U.S (60$ for 2 hours) on the morning of the very same day, and now I was good to go. The first time I went the very same week, I requested my uncle at Mountain View to get me to the AVIS, only to realise while giving the credit card that I had forgotten to take the license from my hotel room.

This time, I was all ready, with license, credit card, and a whole lot of driving experience on the U.S Roads behind me (sarcasm intended). A mid size car was what I was looking at, and what I ended up getting was a large size car when one were to compare it to Indian car makes. A Pontiac Grand Prix, with 6 cylinders powering it, almost like a Sports Car, was not what I thought would be tough to drive. Upon closer inspection, realisation dawned on me that it was a big car alright ! And to know from my very same uncle who had to drive back the car I had rented that day, that it is more liek a sports car, I was like wow ! We have some stuff to drive now. But hey, I did the renting, and the driving, I was confident enough to seek my uncle's help to drive me in the car to the hotel. So much for the enthusiasm and the initial euphoria.

After having taken another of the 60$ 2 hour driving class, I felt more confident, atleast of the driving rules. But the directions were still way far off, for I was (and still am) more focussed on getting the driving right. Office being just under 2 miles away, and having travelled back and forth more than 10-15 occasions I was pretty confident of going and coming back from office. But, the catch was, I was about to try this back and forth exercise on a Saturday noon, with forecasts of rains. And yet again, this day was when I got the second instructor's class. Go to the office I did. But did I come back ? Oh yes, of course. I do know the way don't I ? Just that the under 2 mile drive extended to over 20 miles of lost way. So, essentially, to come back from office, which is 2 miles away, I lost my way and went around for 20 miles to come back, finally safe and secure !

So, an eventful stay it has been till now. Writing frequent posts is going to be more onerous a task, with lesser time, and more restrictions due to the network connectivity. But the way things have unfolded during this trip, it should be a lot of experience which I could write about. For a beginning, and on a good note, my colleagues and I went for a drive to Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, around 45 miles from our hotel today morning in my car . And yes, we did come back safely, and this post is proof of that ! And then all the way to my cousin's place in Fremont. Yes, covering those Freeways which could get notorious if you are not careful. Things have been better on the driving front (Touchwood !). Hopefully, more experiences to write home about in the very near future. For the time being though, it is past 12:00 midnight in Fremont at my cousin's, and it is now time to say Good Night !


Nimish said...

I'm glad you took the 2 hour intro classes - because I've seen enough desis land up thinking they know how to drive in the US, and then proceed to crash their cars. Do you have a contact for the training school? If yes, I'll add it to my bookmarks to refer to other rookies.