Technically, this is my 14th day. I’m starting this entry by feeling sorry about not having started to put my thoughts down earlier. I’m already forgetting what it felt like to feel like a foreigner in a foreign country, the country being my dream, the US of A. Now, I just feel local. Charlottesville? Ah, that’s my city, you should visit sometime… and it’s only been fourteen days. Like my boss, Mr. David Martin said, “If you don’t capture your first impression of something, in any form, it is lost forever”, and I see what he means. If I’d written this entry on 6th Decmeber 2009, I’d have started it with words that probably suggested that I’m having a major case of hypermania caused due to excessive excitement. I know it’s late, but I want to try and recall any small detail that that will help me relive my first day here.
When we (Akash, Sneha and I) boarded the flight at Dubai, bound for Dulles, Washington DC, I was petrified. We were the only Indians apart from a very old couple and it’s one of those moments when you feel like every eye is on you and every laugh and snicker seems to directed at you. Often happens when you’re on foreign territory (I guess, because this was my first time). But we somehow managed to fumble our way across to our seats (only to have it rearranged later because each one of us were seated separately, flanked by overly built rugby team girls). I knew my journey of five months had started then, when:
* I realised every meal had meat in it, and vegetarian meals had to be pre-ordered (so I ate cucumbers).
* I started feeling like I was in a Hollywood movie where everyone spoke in an accent that some jokers back home tried desperately to imitate and failed miserably.
* It sank in, that in a few hours, I’ll actually be seeing Dr. David E. Martin, the reason we were going to the US and his wife Colleen, whom we’d only interacted with via e-mails. It was a particularly consoling fact that they’d be there at the airport to recieve us, for which they’d have had to get up really early in the morning and drive. The fact that they cared so much was enough to wipe out some of the alien feeling that had started to creep in.
The excitement started when the plane touched ground. An exhilerating mix of skeptism and a thrilling sense, both of which stemmed from the fact that we’re in foreign land now. Sparing details about baggage trouble (Sneha’s bag arrived late) and emigration (I think WE scared the OFFICER by looking like overly enthusiastic deranged people who’s smiles only threatened to get wider), we came through the swing doors to see the most welcoming face we’d seen in a long time. Everyone, Dr. David E Martin, CEO of M-CAM Inc., the company we are going to intern at. The only thing that could equal the joy of being hugged so warmly by him, was being received by Colleen, his wife, with just as much warmth and happiness. Right then, they’d given us our biggest welcoming gift, an invitation into their lives and world. First thing they did was to let us call back home to let our parents know we’ve reached. I remember my mom’s voice then, full of excitement and happiness for me, and I knew my dad and sisters were somewhere in the background, all smiles. I remember missing them terribly. I also remember wondering then, why did these two people, one whom we’ve met for hardly a day, another whom we’ve never met, and both being the top people in the company we’re going to intern at, have to come all the way to the airport to recieve us? Why did they take all this trouble? I realised this tiny detail mattered to them, I also realised we were important to them, as in a later conversation we had with David he said “you three are here because you have to be here for the story to be complete”. That gesture of coming to the airport laid a strong foundation for our relationship, because it stated that we are of as much importance to M-CAM and to the people there as it is to us. I knew then that I’d made the right decision by coming here, I knew then that I belonged here. I was reminded of my parents, who take into consideration every tiny detail in all the realtionships that they maintain, and I realise now, that sincerity is what makes it work. The effort that goes into it is of elephantine propotions, but it pays off at the end of the day, because you’re left with a wealth of healthy and strong relationships. Dr. David and his wife were people to whom relationships mattered and with that realisation, I embarked on my five month journey at M-CAM and in the US… happily.