Off the shores 24
Extending the Joy Not our Stay
Moving ahead with Life/Journey
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
We had two more days to stay and have something more in our share. The gift Nevi brought for buhari Sarvada was of the same brand and colour also the same Rachna had purchased months earlier that took us next day to the Philadelphia Premium Outlets more popular as King of Prussia Mall, a landmark and said to be the biggest of all in the US. It was so lonely and forlorn compared to what we had found it during the Thanksgiving Friday, might be due to rainy weather. She could find one to make quick purchase and we could return home as it started drizzling out as exposure to cold could bring us health problem in the journey ahead. Back home, we had snacks Rachna prepared planned since long but weather helped this day. Vimal helped to take the weight of suitcases packed that needed some repacking that we left for next day as we had to be for dinner with Tejas-Urvi. Prisha was excited to see us and more to get the books as gift she immediately got into the one that was a game of learning alphabets to play with. There we enjoyed delicious Bhel followed by fulfilling Dahi-Vada Gujarati style to the tune of Deewani video-clip that little two-year baby Prisha demanded to show her dancing prowess learnt from her mother like the language she picked up a lot recently. This made the song more memorable than the actual scene in Bajirao Mastani we had seen together on its first day here. Ranjana called Archna to say bye and she narrated about little Anvi so fond of science at this age not even two to pick up words like earth, moon, sun , star and asteroid even.
Tuesday we kept ourselves busy in packing/repacking up the baggage. Anu visited with her kids to wish us safe journey back home. We gave her a copy of Hanuman Chalisa, the booklet even the US President Barak Obama keeps with him as we learnt recently from the press. It took a lot of efforts adjusting the weight of the baggage. By the time we finished it was around 8.30 with no time or energy left to prepare our food. Rachna wanted us to taste the food at R&Z’s Ping Pong, her favourite place she frequented for lunch when working in the office nearby. So we rushed to the King of Prussia as they close by 9.30 and it was almost half-an hour drive. While searching for the eating places nearby earlier, Rachna found one to be the Most Romantic Restaurant in the whole of the USA but the place inconspicuous to her that Vimal could recollect and remember to have seen once. On reaching there we found all workers getting ready for their dinner together as usual with the Chinese. We were served promptly and to notice that they had already taken out the chopsticks from the table replaced with forks finding us to be Indian and taking for granted that we do not use them, perhaps. Back home, as usual I get a glass of milk for good night rest before the long journey for which friends, relatives and well-wishers sent their safe trip messages on the picture shared by Rachna on Facebook from the Ping Pong. First to wish us was Saroj D. Prajapati, president NPPA, who asked ‘Hope you can stay unto WNO Convention’ to which I replied, ‘Wish we could but are leaving tomorrow night. Thank you and all for making our stay so joyful to treasure pleasant memory for a long time!’ I thanked for ‘Have safe trip’ from her. Somewhere deep inside I was sad for not being able to visit her father Ram Malakar, founder president of NPPA, who had invited us but Ranjana’s prolonged bad cough followed by the blizzard made us helpless.
Today was the day of our departure and since past few days our worry had been how to carry all the goods in our suitcases that were smaller in size. We tried putting heavier items there but of no help. Rachna finally solved the problem by giving two large ones but still all could not come and we had to leave behind things much against our desire like the book Kiran (Ron) Sitoula gave us since that alone weighed three kilograms. I had put in my laptop bag but she would not allow me carry heavy in both my hands. So much so that we dropped the idea of even getting stuff from Duty Free Shops as both of had our hands were full with laptops and carry in baggage. Prasad and Bindiya dropped in to say good bye and safe trip with a nice gift for Ranjana. I had one for them too from the last and third lot we purchased to make a good gift more for its usefulness than its value. I like it very much and wanted to give this gift to all we wished but Rachna-Vimal were reluctant to agree. After Achyut Bhai, I tried it first with Karthikeyan and Tina was so happy to get such a useful gift that made me encouraged to continue giving it. Vipin-Priya, Sumit-Ruru, Shib-Anu, Tejas-Urwi, Mahesh-Madhu and all were delighted to get such a wonderful gift. I had even sent this gift also to Vimal’s parents and relatives in Palakkad through Vipin’s parents. Last one when given to Prasad, he said his son Chakloo would be happier to get it. When it was found well received by all friends and relatives, I recollected how well Charles Dudley Warren said, ‘The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than its value.’ The best part of the story and it was so nice of Vimal asking Rachna at the end whether we have any left for themselves in their home. Yes she had and it was the one we brought with us during our last sojourn. When we purchased a number of them so often, the elderly person in the counter too was happy that the good thing we purchased that would reach that very one spot. He himself had one with his name-tag kept on the counter top as Rachna found. Many of my readers must have guessed it right, this useful gift was nothing but the simple ‘body scratcher’ mentioned earlier in my writings as well. It is equally good for doing simple exercise by lifting it with both hands a foot apart and move up and down. This would help from having stiff neck or tennis elbow, if practised regularly 50 times gradually increased to 200 hundred times or more. I practise it as a part of my daily regime after doctors recommended it for me some years ago when I had stiff neck when in Nepal!
Rachna wanted us to have some delicious snack prepared by her for tea in the evening as she had been treated to motherly love all the while when we were there all these months. Even her friends were happy but in her good bye, reach safe and sound message on phone, Urvi had just one wish she missed – the yummy momos from Ranjana’s hands. It was chicken momo with fresh wrap homemade unlike they make with frozen wraps and turkey for filling while she was totally vegetarian from Gujrat. The previous evening Rachna had Pani Puri/Puchka with readymade puri from Bhavani the Indian store and for its fillings with all the ingredients made fresh but frozen chickpeas for me as I avoid potatoes. For last evening it was Vada Pao and Bhel Puri she prepared so well having done her BE from Pune in Maharashtra to graduate with these tasty culinary fares.
Towards the end of the sojourn we did not find Passang and Tashi from Nepal working in the Bhavani, who was surprised to see us buying the stuff other Indians love to eat. The Subway in the Exton Mall was run by a Nepali and worker too from Nepal delighted to see us as their customer for the first time ever since he came there. Rachna had come across Nepalese working in restaurants like Devi and Indian Hut / Hot Bread too had cook from Nepal. I have earlier mentioned in one of my writings how a worker was surprised to find Rachna asking for Taja Bhaat Paainchh ki?!
With all such sweet things to recollect and enjoy how soon all these 25 weekends passed by that we got ready to move on with heavy heart to leave all behind to get into the Acura mdx burgundy that had been a part of our life in sojourn that never made us feel we were away from home. With SIKKIM as its number plate to give that very identity making us a class apart that helped to connect with all these great souls far away from home yet to be a home for us all the while all these months together but to say adieu and depart finally. Weather too was sad as it rained throughout the day, more heavily as we headed to JFK New York airport for our 10’o-clock fight in the night. Three hour drive with Vimal-Rachna recollecting all through the journey the nice time we had together that simply flew off so fast but to settle down deep in our hearts their love and care loaded with gifts abound that yet made us desire one visit more time next but not five years apart like the present one. We have many more to desire and never enough even after so much we felt enjoying to be in the USA as we proceed through Security cordon to board the Etihad Airways waving hands to see off Vimal and Rachna at the far end of the huge hall till our eyes welled up blurred. I could only thank them on my Facebook to say, ‘With best wishes from all our friends, family and well-wishers for our safe journey, we arrived hale and hearty back home last Friday. We express heartfelt thanks to all and America for making our sojourn wonderfully pleasant and memorable lifelong!’
Someone rightly said that Every good thing has to come to an end and so did our Sojourn USA 2015 came to an end but not the story to continue and share with my readers one more time like the trip we hope next ~ God willing!
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life while in the US. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org