You know from ‘To Russia by Chance’ that our plan to go to Nepal in November 2015 had to be cancelled. Vinod’s and my annual leaves were approved. I was almost desperate to travel. I couldn’t think of any other destination which offers visa on arrival to Indians and which we hadn’t visited before. Then, Vinod suggested going to New York.
We had recently received the US B2 visa and were looking forward to a long leave (probably in April 2016) to take an extensive vacation in the US. We were thinking of visiting both the west and the east coast. However, it seems as if the US was calling us earlier.
We started gathering itineraries from friends who had visited the US. I started looking up on the internet and Viator.com for places to visit, things to do and see and draw up a rough schedule. Yet, Vinod was not satisfied. He felt we must refer to Lonely Planet, Rough Guides or Frommer’s although I didn’t feel it was necessary. When it comes to books, he is over-enthusiastic.
We headed to Kinokuniya for his favourite activity of book buying. We browsed through several books: US, US – west coast, US – east coast, cruises of the US, national parks of the US etc. Finally, we walked out with just one guide, New York city.
We researched as much as the limited time allowed. We were not able to develop a concrete programme and book any local excursions because not only were we short of time but also because we didn’t have a confirmed flight booking. (No, it was nothing like the recent United Airlines’ incident.)
We just drew up a list of places we would like to go to and experiences we would like to try. Odd as it may sound, we set off to the US with no plan charted out. The only thing that we had booked was accommodation through AirBnB.com with the hope that our flight tickets would get confirmed at the last minute.
Although, we had been to 16 foreign countries before that trip, Vinod was feeling unusually anxious about that tour. US is his most favourite destination but not for its natural beauty, historic importance or advanced infrastructure. It’s his ‘the place to be’, a sanctum sanctorum of sorts. Since his childhood, he has been watching American movies and TV shows. He had dreamt of living or spending some time there. And now, he was getting the chance! Going to the US was like an achievement of the most passionate goal for him!
It was going to be a dream come true for me too. From childhood, I too had been wanting to go to the US to visit Disneyland and Hawaii. I too was anxious; not because of anything else, but because of the 12-hour long journey from Abu Dhabi International Airport to John F Kennedy Airport, New York. That was our first and still is the longest flight ever taken.
To be continued…