US Trip 2006

August 12, 2006 at 9:20 pm (Personal)

After a 58 hour long journey – I reached Seattle on Friday evening (21 – July). There is nothing more than can possibly go wrong in one’s trip from Bangalore to Seattle via Chennai.

My halt at Chennai was supposed to be few hours but turned out to be half a day. But then, I felt lucky as I got a chance to go visit my parents at Chennai and get some good home food.

Made friends with flight attendants, air line coordinators, fellow passengers including some French chicks. With my laptop battery dead and just a Indian plug type handy – I really didn’t have anything else to do. :)

Any hey, I spent my first dollar in the USA. Got a coffee for $3.99 at Starbucks in the JFK Airport. Tell you what, our own “Café Coffee Day” coffee is million times better.

Anyway – checked in to Hotel Sheraton Seattle on Friday evening. First thing I wanted to do was call my friends and let them know I have reached. But guess what – all the contact numbers are safely stored in a Notepad file which is my laptop and the laptop battery is dead. I had to call the Hotel room service 21 times before they got me a Indian to US type plug converter to connect my laptop.

Finally – got the contact numbers and started calling friends. Met two of them in the same evening – One of them took me to a Indian restaurant in Bellevue. I was the only Indian face among the fifty odd guests in the Indian restraint – felt like a stranger – huh, what an irony?

Got back late in the night and went to bed – had to meet Rambo(G Arun) and Arvind the next morning. Rambo was flying in from California. Funny thing in Seattle was that I was able to see the sun till 10 / 10.30 in the night. For once I thought Surya bhagavan forgot to hand over the shift to Chandra bhagavan :)

Saturday Morning. Arvind and G Arun came to the hotel to pick me up. I didn’t have my breakfast. Filled my back pack with all the food I found in a basket in my Hotel Room. A basket full of chocolates, chips, buts and candy bars.

I was a little hell struck to see G Arun – with a Anniyan style hair standing next to a Chevrolet coupe. I kept telling him that he resembled a “Mexican Mafia” or a “Brazillian War Lord” :)

Started our journey towards San Juan Islands in pacific coast of Washington State. G Arun drove the car and Arvind was more like a co-pilot helping him with the directions with mapquest data in hand. When I hear the peters in US tell me they use mapquest or Windows Live local – I was used to make fun of them as we never needed all that in India. But problem in US probably is that there are not enough “Nair Tea stalls” or “Punjabi Dhabas” to ask for directions on the high ways.

We took the car in a ferry and reached Friday harbor in the San Juan Islands. Spent an entire day there. Took a 4 hours trip to whale watching in to the Pacific ocean. Was a nice experience although we mostly spent time making fun of the tour guides rather than showing interest in watching the whales :)

Had Mexican food for dinner and came back late in the night. Guys spent the night the Hotel room as Arvind smartly misplaced the keys to his apartment. :)

Sunday Morning – Got up and drove to Arvind’s apartment. He managed to get new keys and let us in. Nice place he has got in Bellevue. As some of you might already know – he is working for Expedia Travel Search as an intern. And hey, G Arun is with Yahoo now.

Sunday’s agenda was a little less hectic – visited Snoqualmie falls. Not bad – but certainly not as good as Arvind hyped it. He said it’s taller than Niagara or something.. he heh!

We visited Pike Place market and other places in Downtown Seattle that day and split at 6pm in the evening as G Arun had a flight to catch in the night back to California.

But as expected, he missed his flight and slept in the Airport to take another flight in the morning. That wasn’t surprising considering his past track record in successfully making it to the airport on time. :)

I had a Welcome party to attend Sunday night – came back a little late in the night to Hotel. My roomie from Microsoft arrived Sunday night – technically, it was Monday morning 1am :)

Monday till Friday was Tech Ready. We visited Seattle downtown whenever we got time in the evenings, which was like almost everyday :)

Microsoft has arranged for a cruise Thursday evening again in to the Pacific. Was fun. Met lotsa people from other divisions.

During the course of the week – visited my Pakistani friend in Sammamish campus. He and his wife took me around the campus for an entire evening. We had some interesting conversations and some really good Pizza for Dinner.

I also got to visit Redmond campus twice during the week. Although some may think it’s paranoid, I personally consider it as the Mecca or the Kasi or the “Promised Land” of us Microsofties. :)

Friday evening, I met Sridevi, my long time friend from college. She was working in Amazon. Had a coffee with her at Starbucks. And then I got to visit her place in Redmond. Nice apartment. We then went to a Indian restraint again. One of the rare occasions I got good food :) I mean, good Indian food. Cos American food was totally inedible to me, a vegetarian.

My cousin Vinod had come down from Portland on Friday night for a 2 day stay in Seattle. He stayed with me in the Hotel. Saturday we spent time at the Pike and visited the “First Starbucks outlet” in USA. Took some snaps there. We then visited the “Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museam” – crap place. Waste of time.

Sridevi had invited me and my cousin to her place for lunch. So went there at about 3pm. Frankly, I wasn’t really expecting a good food as she said she was going to cook food herself. I insisted we would buy as I wanted to live longer – but she refused.

As God wanted it, me and cousins sat on the dinner table with a plate full of rice, Onion Sambar and Potato curry. My cousin was innocent and started eating it right away. I hesitated at first but then said a short prayer and started eating the food.

W-O-W. This is how I felt after tasting the Sambhar. I told her “The cabbage Sambhar is really tasty” – but then she corrected me saying it was “Onion Sambhar” – :)

Anyways, the food was good. Not just good – but really amazing. Kudos to Sridevi. Later, her roommate Praveena also joined us. Praveen made some amazing filter coffee later in the evening. One of the best I have had although not as good as the “Filter Coffee” that my mom makes. :)

We then hunted the net to find some places to visit. Sridevi had a car and we decided to go to Alki Beach in Seattle. The drive was really good except that we almost got killed couple of times. “Sridevi drives a car” is certainly an oxymoronic statement.

We spent few hours in the beach and took some Water Taxi rides to the other shore. It was beautiful to see the sun set below the Pacific Horizon.

She then dropped us back in the Hotel and went back home to Redmond.

Next day – Sunday was my flight to New York. My cousin was also leaving back to Portland. He was working in Intel as an Intern.

Reached New York at 8pm. Kutty(Arun) was supposed to pick me up in the JFK Airport and I also reminded him several times. But as expected he was late to reach the Airport and not just that – I called from the Airport couple of times but there was no answer. It was a good feeling to wait in a city where you don’t know anyone and the only person you know does not answer the phone. :)

So we took three trains to reach Kutty’s place in New Jersey. Had long chat about school and college days and also some plans for the future :)

Next morning we went to New York and saw places like Times Square. Took some snaps. New York was a very different city compared to Seattle. Lots of people everywhere – you get a feeling like you are in Chennai Central station :) and believe me the weather was also as hot as Chennai.

I also got to visit my cousins in New Jersey. I was meeting her after 9 or 10 years. Was fun. Most of my time in New York/New Jersey was spent on travel. I was either on trains or walking from one station to another. But then this gave chances for some good discussions with Kutty and possible some future plans.

Wednesday evening was my flight back to Bangalore via Paris. No hiccups in my return journey. I had to come back to work on Friday as one of team mates was leaving and it was his final day at work.


Sorry to bore your guys with a terribly lengthy post – but I really enjoyed this trip and certainly going to stay in my memory for a long time.

UPDATE: Check out my US Trip Photos here



  1. Dhathri said,

    Asusual, known fact importance to food….
    Looks like you love you mom and crazy about the food cooked by her

    but I liked few big words,adjectives used in the blog like, oxymoronic,paranoid. etc..
    But after reading this blog frankly I felt, that I have very less friends.
    Today if i have to go to the US, I would be all alone, and I can imagine how terrific it would be. have lot of friends and lot of people around you.
    While commenting on this let me take this oppurtunity to tell you what everybody whom I know tell about you.
    They all feel that you are kind of unique and special in everything and very easy going :-)

    now this will get boaring than you Blog…
    Wish you all the best for your future trips and plans

  2. vanand said,

    He heh! Actaully, yes – I give importance to food – especially after moving to bangalore! Man, food in bangalore sucks big time! Atleast, it doesn’t suit me – !

    Meeting friends was good – in fact am meeting these guys after years!

  3. pavitra said,

    Looks like you had lot of fun in your US trip . Other than food , what are the other things that you missed a lot in that country ? How are the people there ?
    How did u feel when u first landed in a foriegn country all by yourself ..

  4. vanand said,

    @Pavithra – When I landed first in the US I felt relieved – cos I thought I would be caught forever in some infinite time of looping flight delays and never make it ! :) But yes, there were lots of thing that were diffrent there and I guess I didn’t stay there long enough to really get a feeling of anything thats Amercanistic.

  5. g.arun said,

    i just searched g.arun on google and it landed here. on 4th result or something. other SEs didnt lead here.

  6. vanand said,

    Google loves me :)

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