Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Life in Americas (the good side)

One way to ask the question is - what are you going to miss ? 
The other way to ask the question is - what do you want to remember?

I prefer to answer the latter because thats what this blog is about. I do not miss stuff because i am a very forward looking person. But there are things that i do want to remember.

~ Let me categorically write that work was one of my the best things that happened. The culture, the people, friday talks, tech talks, hallway conversations, startup atmosphere, ideas in the air and everything around them. I am going to remember my colleagues and working with them.

~ Masters at Gatech. It was a tough period in life but all i remember now is great courses, great teachers, lots of fun, lots of hard work put in, a great library, theory courses, talks with coffee and cookies, movie course and the univ atmosphere. 

~Nature - I had never seen the beauty of nature as i experienced it in US.  Right from yosemite trip (the first one) to Redwood and many trips in between, the care that is taken to preserve nature, the feeling one gets when one is hiking in those trails, camping under the starry night, be it alone or with good company. Also, the parks within city such as Bayshore or Heyler park at San jose, or the one at Campbell, running at those parks was a delight. I think i will always cherish those memories. 

~ NPR. Oh yes, NPR is very high, I knew that radio had lots of potential but existence of NPR was a great joy. I would like to document the shows that i liked - Planet money, all music considered, Wait wait dont tell me, Car talk, Prairie home companion, selected shorts, this american life, terry gross interviews (fresh air) , michael krasny interviews. Listening to NPR while driving makes even driving a joy. I will try to follow them even when i am here.

~ Jon Stewart and Colbert. The intersection of satire, comedy and politics has never been better and their creative evolving execution was always entertaining. Comedy central is now airing in Indian channels as well, so woohoo!

~ Cafes. See the blog post - the bay area coffee chapter. And the whole culture around it - performance by local artists etc. 

~ Internet speed. Even though i cursed comcast, i knew that i will hate Indian ISPs. The bandwidth makes so many things possible in US and internet speed is one of my aha things here. 

~ Farmers market - Oh yes, the Sunday morning walks at Mountain view's farmers market were a delight.  Tasting fruits for free, awesome strawberries, live music, indian samosa, veggies, macaroons, fruit tarts, people casually strolling and enjoying the sunday - Thats how markets should be!

~  The whole DIY culture. Be it makers faire, or be it local people doing things of their own. From making your halloween costume to making your honey/eggs, and lots of stuff here. 

~ Bike path - The fact that there exists specialized bike path on roads and the fact that the footpath is so well maintained, bike riding and walking is awesome.

~ Indie cinema and halls. The camera cinema club was awesome. And so were the local halls such as Aquarius, Guild and CineArts, closely followed by camera cinemas. Movie watching with like minded people was always a delight. 

~ Food diversity. For a food junkie like me, it was one of the best things. So many cuisines, so many styles and all so yummy food.  The openness of country can be seen in variety of restaurants. 

And many small things such as road infra, living so close to half moon bay, a general sense of confidence in people, political debates etc etc. 


Leaving Easy (street)

I promised myself that i will not write any of the "leaving Bay area" posts until i am back in India. So here i am - sitting nicely at Diamond district apartment at 6 am.

At some point in Nov, on the Wednesday before thanksgiving my manager walked up to me and said - why are you not back in India. This came as a shock as i was waiting for people above me to tell that i can leave now. I was going to India on vacation about 10 days from now and i was like can i move back right now? Can i weap everything and move back for good in 10 days. Good thought exercise. I had already made my thanksgiving weekend plans to Redwood so i went there and as blogged before, that was an awesome trip. I came back on Sat night, so now i had 6 days before i leave for India. And i had decided that if not move back, i am not going to pay my Jan rent, so i will clear up my apartment.

Sunday morning came and it begins with something that is very much needed in order to take a plunge this big - Philz coffee.  Just to paint a picture, in 6 days, i have to ship the stuff that i want to India and ofcourse, before i ship, i also have to pack them, discard all the stuff that i do not want and discard mostly meant give it up for free as i was not looking to sell it, figure out what i should do with Ponyo, sell my car and get the apartment cleaned. And ofcourse, i had to attend office and prepare for my India trip as well.

The whole week can be summarized as that it was messy, it was hectic and lots of fun.

Ponyo was given to Deepti didi on thursday and she is not happy in her new home. While moving Ponyo to her new home, i took her in car and at a sharp brake, the small aquarium toppled and those were the moments where my heart just raced. Ponyo was on the floor under the seat and i was not able to see her. Then, after some random poking, i felt her body and quickly moved her back in aquarium. Thankfully, i had water bottle in my car, so i quickly filled the aquarium. The rest of the drive was one of the smoothest drive that i had ever done in my life.

From Leaving Easy (street)

Shipping includes box buying, packing (and throwing) and more box buying and more packing and more throwing. I shipped my tv and bike, had to pay extra 200$ for my tv just for packing.  Picking up the right shipper was a key decision and i did in like i always do - the first guy who said that he can come and pick it up on a day's notice. It is yet to be seen how good or bad was that decision.

From Leaving Easy (street)

Discarding stuff.
I had lots of stuff to give up - sofa, recliner, lamps, old clothes, etc etc. I had scheduled a salvation army pickup for all of it and then somebody told me that salvation army are very choosy people, they will not take things which they dont like. Ankur gave me the idea of posting a free stuff ad on craigslist and he said that everything will go in 2 hrs. I didnt believe him and i was wrong. It was Friday and at 6 am, i posted my ad. By 8 i had already got dozen calls and by 10 everything was gone. I asked people to come after Salvation army guys had gone so that the best stuff is used well.

From Leaving Easy (street)

I called Heavenly maids to clean the place. They did a good job and even took my recliner and side table.  They were sad that i didnt tell them earlier that all the stuff was for free to be taken away.

From Leaving Easy (street)

Stuff was gone, house was clean and all that was left was car. I had planned to give my car to a dealer and had scheduled an afternoon appointment with him. But when the time came, i got cold feet. Selling car was like the last nail in the coffin, it meant sealing the deal and i was not ready for it. So, i cancelled selling the car and it became my excuse to come back and do it.