Most of the Software Engineers' first foreign trip will be to US. But I wasn't in that lucky category and it took almost 6 years in this industry, to take me to this dream land. Yes, it was my dream to visit the world's most powerful and developed nation. A country that is talked about much and also hated across many parts in the world!
The trip happened all of a sudden for a new project assignment from my company (MindTree, Bangalore). I didn't even get enough time to say good-bye to many of my friends and relatives. Neither did I get enough time for buying things for the trip. But of course, I was excited about the trip.
On a Sunday (2006 Oct 08) night, or rather Monday early morning, I started my trip from Bangalore catching the Air India flight at 03:30 AM. The travel was not at all exciting. Flight was delayed for some time before we started. There was a change of flight from Mumbai. Then a long and boring flight to Paris that took more than 8 hours. I don't have to tell about the services you can expect from an Air India flight. I didn't get the windows seat. I didn't like the food. My head-phone set was not clear. There were no any good programs in the channel. Foot rest was broken! But I was still luckier than my co passenger who had to keep a small pillow up in his hands, pushing onto the ceiling to prevent water from falling on his head! Airhostess kept on saying that, nothing to worry about it as it's just the moisture from air condition system. After all, she has seen it many a times!
Got to see one old friend in the flight and spent some time chatting with him. Also kept walking through aisles and remembered to do some stretching exercises to avoid the long travel problems. Catching some panoramic Views through the window near the doors, (as the sky was clear most of the time), was another time pass as I had not taken any books for reading.
Flight stopped at Paris for more than two hours, though we had to sit inside. After cleaning and getting more passengers on board, another long flight started. Since I was traveling westwards, I was gaining more time. Though it was night in India, it was just after noon here. That means one more lunch on the same day (This time it was bit better).
This long flight ended after 8 or more hours finally reaching Newark, the airport near New Jersey. It was 5 PM when I arrived there. I was bit tensed about the questions they might ask at the immigration booth. But everything was fine and they took both the index fingers imprints and a photograph as part of their heightened security measures.
Got the first feel of US culture. Here everyone has to be independent. So there was no one waiting for me to pick up! Went to the taxi area and headed to the hotel where I had my rooms booked. It was getting dark by that time. Sitting inside the car, chatting with the Egyptian driver who was so curious to know more about India and Amitab Batchan, enjoyed few glimpses of New Jersey city area, realizing with satisfaction that my dream has come true.