That’s us, Akash, Sneha and Sharadha. We were the vistors from India. On the very first day, after we had moved in to our suite, where a gift hamper awaited us (it had fleeces that said ‘Virginia’, Basmati Rice, Dal, Kurkure and Haldirams – talk about making us feel at home! and lots of fruits), we went grocery shopping with David and Colleen to Harris Teeter. Grocery shopping with the boss… ha! how many of us can claim to have experienced that? 🙂 (if I’m being pompous, bear with it). Harris Teeter, Staples (the electronics store), the roads, the scenery, the people, everything was so new to me. I wished I had an extra pair of eyes and half a brain more to take in and process all of it. The Martins’ house is beautiful and the Christmas tree was up and decorated with lights when we arrived. That day, we had our first dinner with the Martins’ and a few other colleagues, namely Adam and Kari, both of whom are wonderfully animated, uniquely interesting people and will feature a lot more in my later posts. One more personality whom I have grown to love over the past few weeks is Scooby, the Martins’ dog. The fellow is uncannily human, I kid you not! I think my favourite part of my first day at Charlottesville was when we were taken to the office at night, and I saw a picture of the three of us (which we’d sent to Colleen earlier) stuck on the wall outside the room which would be our office for the next five months. I think it was at that exact moment that I started getting high on happiness combined with exhaustion. The day ended with a very beautiful concert at a nearby church in which Hunter, another colleague, sang as part of a choir. My shutting down process began the moment the song ended and after that I only remember the soft light as the sun’s rays poked me awake the next morning. Apparently, we’d kick started with style.
When we went to office the next day, which was our first day at work, I could take in much more of how the office was set up and the seating arrangements, now that I had let out a few snores. We learnt that everyone shared information about their work, updates and random bits of news during the first hour of the morning, it being called the ‘staff meeting’ after which everyone proceeds for a coffee at mud house. The downtown mall happens to be right behind where our office is located and that place was a whole new world for me. It was like stepping into a postcard! People hurrying along in coats, hanging on to their coffees, college students on their morning run, people with instruments playing and singing to their hearts’ content, without a worry in the world, every shop and restaurant and fast food joint looking like the ‘store around the corner’ and above all, everything about it seemed to shout ‘America!’. I am yet to explore the mall, I’m sure it’s worth an entire post.
I’d like to take the liberty to say that the three of us blended into the office atmosphere as though we’d always worked at M-CAM. One thing I noticed very prominently is that the people at M-CAM are very passionate about what they do. It’s a very rare thing nowadays, to find one’s passion and one’s job integrated at the same point. We were reminded time and again by David that we were here, not to “tick boxes”, but to contribute, with passion, to what could be made better or create what could make better. The first two weeks at office flew past and all the while we were getting to know people, the business, the IT requirements (our field of interest), basically getting our bearings interleaved with our first movie here (New Moon) and an American football game. We also had the chance to go down to where Mr. Pratt, one of our colleagues and a board member of M-CAM, sold Christmas trees with his boy scouts. If you ever get a chance to take a whiff of the stump of a pine tree, you’ll realise it’s one of the freshest aromas you can ever treat your nose to. My friend, Akash, is reading as I type out this post and he was wondering out aloud why I would post this “documentation” as a blog, for the world to see. I’m posting this because the reception we recieved and the love, not just cordiality or warmth, but love, with which we’re being treated is an experience all by itself. It’s an experience that revives the essence of a society that includes and embraces rather than excluding and outcasting. Mere words cannot explain this concept, but I hope the instances that I have put down will give anybody who is interested, an idea about how it all looks, through my eyes. We aren’t visitors anymore, we’re part of the circle.