This travelogue contains my journey to and through The United States Of America.
I sat with my legs crossed, headphones around my ears, engrossed in watching the movie on the screen. It was only when the plane gave a sudden jolt, did I finally look out. Lo and behold! I could see the country of USA down below me. “We will be landing in a few minutes.” said the voice of the captain. I couldn’t help giggling with excitement.
At the airport:
I jumped out of the plane. In a few minutes, we were at the airport. I observed the people, the shops and the kind of clothing. Suddenly, I looked ahead. What!!! there was an amazingly long line, apparently the immigration line. There must have been at least five hundred people!!! After waiting in the line for three hours, during which I also took a nap, we finally got out. I could see my Bua standing there, waving. In a few seconds, we were on the way to their house.
The West Coast -1st week
As soon as we reached their house, I couldn’t help but stare in awe. In Mumbai, we lived in an apartment. Living in a single house would be a new experience. Then my Bua told me something I wouldn’t have imagined in a hundred years. She said, “This house has skates, so in case of an earthquake or something like that, it would just roll around.”
In the 7 days that we were in the small but pretty town of Santa Clara, we saw lots of different things. On the first day, we went to the sprawling city of San Francisco. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Who hasn’t? It had the salty smell of the sea in the air. It gave the vibe of a seaman, bay kind of place. Located right beside the Pacific Ocean, there were small cafes where they were serving tomato soup in a bread bowl. An extremely interesting concept. We even drove down crooked street, which, as the name suggests, is a downhill crooked street. There are houses on the street. I wonder how they live there. We drove down to Lake Tahoe. I was hoping there was some snow left so I could learn skiing, but I was a bit disappointed when I found out there was none.
On the other hand, San Francisco has a whole new side. It is the home of Stanford University, one of the top 10 Universities in the world. It has a huge campus, which we drove by. It is the birthplace of small startups which are now huge companies, such as Oracle and Cisco. People wanting to start businesses visit San Francisco, hence it has been given the name Silicon Valley.
Los Angeles -2nd week
So once we took a flight from San Francisco to LA, we hopped into a cab, and to the Disney Hotel. The first thing I did was went and took a look at the pool. Wow! The pool was huge. “Utsa!” I heard my mom call out. I followed my parents to the room. OH MY GOD! It took two minutes for everything to sink in. The room had a double bed, a wooden table and a lamp, a comfy-looking couch and a picture hanging on the wall, with a painting of Goofy swimming. The whole place had two Disney Parks and three Disney hotels. The first day we walked down to the park. Before going, the kind lady at the reception pinned the 1st time to Disneyland badge on my t-shirt. I literally hopped all the way to the park.
On entering, at first, my eyes refused to believe what they saw. Then it finally registered in my brain that this was not a dream. I grabbed my parents’ hands and dragged them to the first roller- coaster. The line was super long. So my father and I (my mom wasn’t coming due to the fact that she was scared of roller-coasters) took a fast pass and grabbed the first seat on the roller-coaster. Yeeeeessssss!!!! this was like a dream come true! My father and I started screaming as the ride started. It went upside down, in loops, downwards and upwards, in all directions. We got down from the roller coaster all dizzy. Next we went to some more roller-coasters and rides, like Goofy’s Sky Schools. We tried some cinnamon churros and cheese pretzels. There was also a ride called the Grizzly Bear. It was like a scary waterfall.
While in LA, we also visited Universal Studios. We woke up early in the morning to get there on time along with some other tourists. We boarded a bus, and drove till the park. As we entered, my heart started beating faster, and at last I couldn’t contain my excitement. I let out a squeal of joy and did my happy jig right there. First, we went to the Minions ride. It was lots of fun. Then we went to the adventurous Transformers ride. We went about in a car. And due to special effects, it appeared as though there were real transformers. There were loads of other rides, like Mummy’s Revenge, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and The Simpsons.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Beverly Hills, a luxurious area in Los Angeles, with showrooms of Jaguars and Bugattis, and Gucci and Dior stores. The houses were like palaces. Once we reached the hotel, we packed all of our stuff, since we were leaving the next day.
Las Vegas- 3rd week
We boarded a flight from LA to Las Vegas early morning. We were staying there for only 2 days. The city is famous for its gamblers and glamour, and I had never seen anything like it. Our hotel was called The Excalibur and it looked like a castle. The halls of the hotel were filled with gambling machines. In fact, the clerk at the reception told us that if we got addicted, they would send someone to help us out. He said that everyday lots of people lost all their wealth, or became super rich due to betting. It is a risky thing and also very dangerous. It was the first place in USA that we also saw poverty in.
The next day, we roamed about the city, buying souvenirs, and having fun. In the night, we went to The Bellaggio, the biggest hotel in Las Vegas, to watch the Cirque De Soleil, the ‘O’ show. My father told me that the stage had cost USD 100 million, because it could turn from wood to water and vice versa, it was fire proof and so on. The show made me stare in awe and brought tears of both laughter and joy to my eyes. We ate dinner and retired to our room after that to get some sleep. We were to leave the next day.
Rochester and New York- 4th week
The next day we boarded a flight to Rochester, and on reaching there, I spotted my Mausi in the large crowd. We drove to their house and in a few minutes, were there. It was a large, rather cottage like pretty stone house, with a garage in the back. As we entered, I gasped. Such a pretty interior of a house, I had never seen. There was a soft, fuzzy sofa, a rocking chair looking out at the lush garden, complete with a slide, swings a see-saw. The kitchen was a small open place, with a table and five tall chairs. There was a small wooden balcony, with a swing and flowers blooming. My mausi revealed the entire plan to us. We were to stay in her house for two days, and then travel by car to New York. How exciting! In the meantime, I decided to explore the house. On the second floor, there were three rooms. One of them was mine, one was my parent’s and one was my mausi and mausa’s. While we were there for 2 days, we saw a butterfly garden, a doll museum and of course, I stuffed myself on pancakes, waffles and tacos. My mausi showed me her office, University of Rochester. She is a scientist. That’s a cool job.
We left for New York in the morning after a hearty breakfast of juice and dosa-sambar. On the way we saw windmills, and also stopped for lunch at New Jersey. Once we checked into our hotel, we drove to the heart of The City that never Sleeps. Good Lord! It reminded me a lot of Mumbai. The hustle-bustle was never ending and the number of people was countless. The first day, we took a walk around Central Park. We saw newly-wed couples, artists, joggers, and so many other people. In fact, I even had a portrait of myself made. In the night we visited Times Square. Everything fascinated me. The lights, the shops, the food and most of all the different people.
The next day, we visited the beautiful Niagara falls, surrounded by trees in full bloom. We even went aboard a large boat wearing blue raincoats and got a close up view of the waterfall. The interesting thing is that the people of Canada were waving to us from the other side. We saw the Statue of Liberty, and learned that it was a gift from the people of France to the people of USA. We saw the Empire State Building, which was, at one point the tallest building in the world.
Finally, it was time for me to leave USA. I never thought I would miss it so much. It was a fun experience and, truth be told, I didn’t want to leave. Bye-bye, USA!!!