My Recent Trip to the US And My Thoughts On It

I had gone to the US for two months to spend time with my daughter and son who live there. My son lives in the quaint and beautiful city of Seattle in Washington State, which is where Starbucks opened its very first shop! I stayed with him for four weeks and then went to Los Angeles to stay with my daughter for another four weeks. Though I arrived in Seattle in mid April it was still quite cold there. My son had recently moved from the neighbouring city of Bellevue to Seattle since he wanted to live in a hip and happening place! So I too had the pleasure of enjoying living in Seattle for a month 🙂 His apartment was in one of the main streets where many a time I could watch protest processions of all kinds go by (once there was a procession demanding cannabis be allowed to be home grown!) The picture below is his apartment building.

aptbldg

He lives in the first floor and if you keep the window open you can listen to the chatter of the passers by. Right across was a grocery store where I went shopping almost every day and made the sales people there my friends! The bus stand was also very close by. My son normally takes the bus to work and I could see him board the bus from my window. The apartment building is an old one but recently refurbished with beautiful hard wood floors and a lovely fire place. My son never cooks at home. I had sent him to a cookery class, stuck the recipes for sambar and rasam on the fridge but nothing would make him venture into the kitchen except probably to get a glass of water. So during my one month stay there he loved eating my home cooked meals and that joy was enough to make my whole trip worthwhile 🙂 I am never bored where ever I am. Since I lived in the US before I have a fondness for American sitcoms and enjoy seeing them again and again. Luckily there is no dearth of these shows which air as reruns through out the day in some channel or the other. So even though my son used to return quite late from work I was quite fine 🙂 Of course internet was another great blessing to keep me occupied. The roads in Seattle are like those in Bangalore, going high up and then sloping down. So going for walks was a little tiresome for me, more over the rains almost every day was another deterrent for me. I think it rains almost 200 days in a year in Seattle.

Uninterrupted supply of electricity, super fast internet connection, fresh vegetables and milk, clean and smooth roads, the convenience to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice all made me realize how wonderful life is there compared to the day to day living struggles in Chennai.

It was very sweet of @Nilavinmagal and @soyahere to come and visit me with their families 🙂 I spoke to a few twitter friends while I was there.

While I was in Seattle I celebrated my birthday with my son. We were together for my birthday after many years and he made it extra special by giving me a super laptop as my birthday gift!

N'slaptop

We visited The Japanese Garden on a fairly sunny day. It was very beautiful! We also saw the Thamizh film “Soodhu Kavvum” in a theater there. It was a lot of fun. My son’s friends also came and that is definitely a movie to be watched with friends 🙂 Any way that was a far better experience than our previous on of going to watch “Udhayam” and finding the show cancelled for want of audience. So we ended up seeing a Hindi movie (which by the way had only 4 people including us)! Really wondered how the theater made money!

japgarden2

My son and I left for Los Angeles to attend my daughter’s graduation. My husband joined us from India. Graduation is very important in American culture, be it high school graduation or college graduation. It is a ritual for them to attend the graduation of their loved ones with friends and family. The event is also beautifully organized and extremely well conducted. The graduating students find pride in their achievement when it so well celebrated. My daughter’s graduation in the University Of Southern California was one such memorable event. The commencement speaker was a successful movie playwright and a director. His wife is an actor. He shared with us the trials and tribulations of being in the cine field and how he overcame his obstacles and currently how his son was trying to become a football player and not an artist 🙂 I admire the fact that Americans  have a very good sense of humour in general and excellent presentation skills!

balloon grad

My daughter got a Masters degree in Fine Arts – Dramatic Writing in this graduation ceremony. The university accepts only three students per year and so the class contains only three students. We were very proud of her hard work and achievement and to top it all off two of her plays won first prizes in a national level competition and will be produced and staged in Feb of 2014. This is such a big honour!

madgrad

The following weekend was the reading of my daughter’s play “A Nice Indian Boy” (This is one of the plays that got the prize) This is a very important occasion for my daughter as we get to see what she did in the last three years! The play was both humourous and emotional. This is the first time ever my husband and I were listening to her play. Kudos to her!

reading of the play

reading of the play

We wanted to visit San Jose to meet our old friends and the plenty of relatives who live there. It was a five hours drive from LA. We got to meet so many of our friends and relatives there. Most of their children had taken up jobs and/or married. It was sad to see some of the friends who had lost their jobs and were unemployed because of their age. But they were also actively involved in community programmes and seemed quite happy.

The city had changed a lot and that was only expected. Lots of new buildings and places which used to be vacant were now filled with houses and shopping malls. We met @rskumaran in San Jose with his newly wed wife. Their hospitality was so wonderful. They plan to go back to India in a few years. Hope their dream comes true. The photo below is a picture of their puja area 🙂

rskumaran

We visited a former relative of ours whose house got burnt down recently and was living in a rented place. The reason I said former relative was because the person was previously married to our cousin and then the marriage ended in a divorce. We were told that insurance would cover 90% of the cost of rebuilding and that was some solace to hear. We visited another friend of mine whose house was recently damaged by water! Suddenly the water pipe broke in the middle of the night and before they could switch off the water connection the bath tub in the first floor fell through the roof to the ground floor, not bearing the weight of the overflowing water.  Both the ceiling and the floor were totally broken not to speak of the damage caused by water soaking the wood. I am mentioning these two incidents mainly to highlight the fact that the houses there are made of wood and quickly succumb to damage caused by fire or water.

I did a lot of shopping there 🙂 I have a lot of friends, so I bought quite a bit of small items to be gifted. There are plenty of malls which are so huge that one becomes tired just by walking through it! Whatever is available there is also available in India and in fact even cheaper. But when you visit the US you feel compelled to buy stuff from there.

We also visited our old house in San Jose. Some minor modifications only were made to that house and surprisingly our next door neighbour remembered me and my son after so many years, more surprisingly he was still in the same house 🙂

HermaSt

In one part of LA there is a look alike of Venice city. This was was built by a millionaire who felt that US lacked culture like that Europe so richly had. Hence he built this canal and lovely houses sprung on either side of the canal. Just walking by these houses is a sight for sore eyes.

venice canal

We then went to San Diego to visit another relative. This city is in the border of Mexico. The state of California itself once belonged to Mexico. So you will find lots of Hispanics every where. Knowing Spanish will greatly help if you plan to live in California for long. The Mexican immigrants are more  in the Southern California than in Northern region. My daughter and I spent a weekend in a cousin’s house in San Diego. We met @dagalti in San Diego though he resides in Chennai. I respect him a lot for his writing and so was very happy to finally meet him. The photo below was taken at one of the beaches in San Diego.

sandiego

My daughter lives with three other room mates in a nice house near Down town LA. One of her room mates is a Tamilian. She is soon to be married to a tweeter @complicateur who was one of the earliest tweeps I followed when I first came to twitter 🙂 He is a big Raja fan and a good Tamil blogger. We used to watch a lot of Tamil movies on the internet and had fun while I was there. Another room mate is a second generation Koreon. She is such a nice girl. Every time she left for work she will bend and do namaskaram like thing and leave. I really annoyed my daughter by repeatedly telling her that she is such a nice girl 🙂 Another room mate is an American. She was also a very sweet person. All these girls share an apartment so nicely, using the common kitchen effectively that I really felt if they carried the same attitude of adjusting well with others in the same household, they will do well in their married life as well 🙂

My daughter took me a huge Rose garden in LA called the Huntington Rose Gardens. Not only do they have rows and rows of rose bushes, they also maintain gardens based on countries, like the Chinese Garden, Japanese garden etc. The photo below was taken at one part of the garden.

rosegarden

When I was in Seattle I hardly went for walking, mainly due to rains and also because I was not well when I was there. But when I was in LA I was able to for walks every day. There is hardly any rainfall in LA through out the year. Yet the city abounds in colourful blossoms! I was bewitched by the beauty of the flowers when I went on my walks and took so many photographs of them that I started uploading one photo a day on twitter since then 🙂

My daughter’s professor and Head of the Department invited me for lunch to discuss my daughter’s future. That showed their dedication to their profession. I also met My daughter’s former boss who was willing to help my daughter in which ever way she could.

Since I was a visitor during the two months of my stay there I did not have much responsibilities. But since I stayed with my children I tended to step in to fill up their shortfalls. Things have definitely changed since we left the US in 1993. I would say for the better. Indian groceries and other necessities are available easily and at an affordable cost. An Indian wedding with the same pomp, splendour and rituals can now be celebrated in the US with ease. Temples are architecturally similar, beautifully maintained and follow the same systems as in India. The photo below is of the Malibu temple in Los Angeles.

malibu temple

For those Indians who move there and have no unemployment problems, US is heaven. Unless one really wishes and strives hard to move back to India it will not happen to him. As long as one is healthy there is no need to seek the assistance of relatives for help and even in such a need friends fill in for them. With friends it is easier to communicate and be more matter of fact than with relatives. So it is more comfortable to live in the US without the hassles of dealing with nosy relatives. In recent times families as a whole move to the US. So when brothers and sisters are easily accessible even visits to India become rare. Some years back house hold help was unavailable or expensive. Now cleaning services vacuum the house, clean the bathrooms and kitchen at affordable prices. There are separate agencies and gardeners for maintaining the yard. To top it all cooks are available to come home and cook at hourly rates or sell food from their home which we can go collect.

Children born and brought up there are Americans in the true sense of the word. They may have the Indian skin colour and the Indian looks but in their thought word and action they are 100% true bred Americans.

When the time arrived for me to leave LA I was sad that I will miss my daughter. This was the same feeling I had when I left my son in Seattle a month earlier.

A successful stock broker is one who not only knows when to buy stocks but also knows when to sell. Like wise a parent must learn to cut the apron strings at the right time to let the children grow independently, no matter how much it hurts. Bhagavadh Gita says the same thing. Once we show the pathway it is up to them to continue their journey.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sukanya (@sukanya29039615)
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 10:54:01

    Your writing gave a feeling that I was there all through the time with you. Hey hats off to you. no wonder Madhuri got the skill from you. I am really proud of you sushi. Great.

    Reply

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