Thursday, 21 May 2015



It is 5.30 in the morning. I, with a glass of lukewarm lemon water, open the terrace door. My nostrils get filled with that old wet, musty smell that comes after rain in my native place in India. There is a thin layer of fog in the atmosphere and mist is dripping from the soggy leaves of the Sycamore trees. It seems it may rain today.

I work on that acrylic canvas. It is the a way to pass my time reflecting sometimes on the changing moods of weather outside. Weather has improved with sun out there. I click the pictures of hare and squirrels and mail them to Shammi. He likes them.

A light cool breeze is blowing. I change into Tee-shirt and Pants, put on the sports shoes and move to the park for a walk. Midway, there's a swimming pool. The gate is locked. It has not been cleaned after the storm. The dry leaves are still floating on the surface of the pool-water. Summer is not here yet. So, the pool may be cleaned and prepared for the approaching summer which starts in mid June here.

I remember the lines of the poem 'Ode to the West Wind' by P.B. Shelley when I find the same scene now in all green in Spring but had been in all white just a few months back in Winter-
"O wild West Wtnd, thou breath of Autumn's being, /......The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,/ Each like a corpse within its grave, until/ Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow/ Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill/....With living hues and odours plain and hill..."

I find the soil around the roots of the trees well dug and manured. Trees are well taken care here and  they are even enrolled in the census like population.

This time I complete three rounds of walk on the outer circle that is approx. 3.1 km. There are some walkers with their pets. The pets are all leashed. A clear cut instructions are written on a board in the park for the pet owners how to take care of their pets so that they may not stray off to harm other walkers. Rules are very strict for pet owners here. If a person gets bitten by anybody's pet, he may claim in millions for the harm caused. So, the pet owners are extra cautious about their pets.

Yasmin returns early today at 5.30 PM to take me to Walmart by bus which is at 5.50 PM sharp. I rush to get ready and we leave at 5.43 for the bus stop that is at a distance of half km. Buses run very timely here. I walk fast and sometimes increase my pace to run in order to be there on time. The excitement makes me behave like a child. It's once in a life time for people like me to get a chance to visit US. So, I want to live each moment and record each and every detail of the time spent here.

Yasmin shows me how to alight the bus and drop the coins and notes in the slot provided there. The bus driver greets Yasmin. He smiles gently at me when Yasmin helps me drop the coins in the slot. He then greets me too. I like that small friendly gesture which I find missing in India. It makes me feel comfortable here. Yasmin explains me how working class people are given due respect here. It's so nice!

The bus is air conditioned and as I get seated near the window, I feel the cold waft of air. Yasmin feels it and changes the seat with me. However, the excitement of going out is too great to feel the chill inside the bus against the warm weather outside. There's a Chinese couple sitting two rows ahead us. They keep on changing their seats. I enjoy the scenes sweeping past outside the bus window. Vehicles move at a terrific speed here but stop at every traffic signal. There is no traffic rush and jam here like in India.

We reach Walmart in about 45 mins. The pavements are full of flower pots for sale. There are flocks, petunias, gladiolas, pansies and all sorts of beautiful spring time flowers hanging down from pots on the stands. Nobody plucks or picks them. Not even a child does so here.

 The Walmart is an immensely big store for all sorts of shopping for merchandise, sports-items, grocery and many other products. It is quiet inside also but for the chatting by two Indian store workers who sometimes get engaged in talking to break off the monotony of the day's work.

There is a Dollar- mart too. We just stroll inside the mart, waiting for the cab. Things are available at a throwaway price of a dollar, as like in India "हरेक माल पचास रुपय्ये ".

The cab arrives. The cabs are mostly driven by Latin-Americans who are very cooperative, friendly and decent fellows. The cab driver greets in such a familiar way that impresses me. Yasmin wants to have dinner somewhere in a Chinese restaurant, but her cell battery being discharged, does not want to take risk. Moreover, it being late already, we think of going back straight. However, the cab driver shows us the location of a good Chinese eating place, offers to wait for 40 minutes and pick us from there to drive us back home. It makes me instantly compare and contrast him with cab-service in India, and the horrific incident of Uber-cab in Delhi. Yasmin politely refuses him as it is 9.30 PM. He drops us at an Indian restaurant near our apartment.

After dinner, we walk back to our apartment. The walking lane is deserted and we increase our pace. Yasmin tells me the tragic incident of an Indian female worker who was stabbed in her throat in an almost deserted metro platform late at night on her way back home. She, a mother of nine month old baby, was talking to her husband in India on her cell-phone when stabbed from behind. Her last words were," I think I have been stabbed in my throat." She died on spot in a foreign land thousand miles away from her land, away from her family, to work and financially support her family. I can feel the horror, the agony and helplessness of her husband. Death in such a cruel and inhumane way!
I ask Yasmin to leave early from office and remain cautious.

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