Weekend that was
Getting touched with
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Life here divided into weekends that the people enjoy after slogging the whole week that deserved this break to relax, unwind and get refreshed for the coming week to have another weekend yet once again.
We arrived here on 15th August morning to see the crowd at the rest place as many people out holidaying with children, couples and also many elderly ones. While travelling we find people only moving in cars (many single occupant self-driving) and not a soul to be seen outside walking on the road. We see many of them either at such rest areas, in stores, shopping malls or beaches/national monuments vacationing. Many of us believe that the Americans do not have or have a social life not better than we Indians have but it is not so as we come to understand here. People start their work early in the day some even at 7am to do their eight-hour job and be back well in time just to be with their children/family whereas those of Asian origin are seen going to work mostly by 9. It is also possible here to work from home to cope with the load. I have found working thus even our Vimal slogging day and night often burning midnight oil to meet with the target of the time-bound project he has in his hands. The project designed to launch some app for the clinical test to be launched with the flu shot season starting 15th September. Flu shots are already here available on discount at the stores and are free for those covered with insurance and these shots are effective for a year. It was drinking cold water from bottle while travelling home from the airport that I was caught with a bout of cold and cough to last for a week until I had taken some syrup in two kinds red one for the day and black or green one for the night cap. It was only with the anti-allergy tablet some relief came finally for me and such medicine available recently as ‘over the counter’ claimed to be as strong as its prescription dose to work effectively without drowsiness.
When we announced our trip to the US reaching Abu Dhabi Airport on the 14th Visiting once again Feeling Happy on the Facebook, the first to respond/comment Excited to meet after 5 years that touched our hearts was Karthikeyan Bose, Vimal-Rachna’s friend we first met at his single room apartment in New Jersey last time. He had welcomed ten of us lunch prepared to have standing in that cosy room on the way to Martha’s Vineyard/Boston together for Labor Day long weekend. Suddenly the fire alarm went on as the steam/smoke out of the puri he was preparing that was something new for us to experience. Such an occasion I came to know about in Gangtok was when some traditional programme started with burning of essence/lamp in the newly inaugurated Manan Bhavan that suddenly set the alarm on making many leaving the hall in distress. Thereafter we find an arrangement always made to cope with a fire truck parked next to the hydrant near our Rachna Books whenever an official function is held there. Similar thing happened this time too when Ranjana was roasting eggplants for Baigan Bharta over the stove and luckily Rachna was with us who quite alarmed quickly started fan and opened windows to let fresh air pass in and circulate. If not controlled thus in time the alarm outside the house, we were told, would start hooting that would invite not only the fire but also the ambulance and police in tow – a situation we would not really like in the normal course. So, next time when she had to deep fry in oil, we moved out to the deck where a grill-cum-oven was there for barbeque and corn/maize people enjoy together when friends and relatives gather. Such a gathering we had last here was at Bipin’s on Vidit’s Birthday and the trend has caught on back home in Gangtok when Ratna-Delay had it arranged for his birthday bash recently. No wonder if the popular sekuwa culture of Nepal comes there too with some food joints offering such a fare very much like the Newar Kha-ja/na so common these days.
As it was lunch time, we were to go to join the buffet in one of the restaurants in the locality but not before confirming our table there that could be available after some half an hour. On reaching there we had to wait for another couple of minutes finding some people already outside. Inside it was mostly Desi, i.e., Indian/Pakistani/South East Asian face while the whole team of workers there Nepali as the place we visited was Aman’s indian bistro (the best restaurant in the area claimed www.amansbistro.com). We had sumptuous meal with a variety of food to satisfy the range of our gastronomic taste and desire right from mango lassi to kheer, halwa, ras-malai and gulab jamun for the dessert while main course was with the range of plain rice to tandoori dishes. With satisfying treat courtesy Karthik-Tina, Vimal had better thing to do on his laptop to complete the time-bound assignment in his hands and rest of us to visit the popular mart Costco as the guest of our host-couple its members. It was a big store to spend our time making purchases right from storing hardware to greens, bakery products and garments in offer at a much cheaper price than elsewhere as we were made to understand. Next in our agenda was the Korean store where we could see more varieties of the fresh greens and bamboo shoots while lobsters and crabs live in display being selected by some interested shoppers.
Back to Karthik’s place we had a pleasant evening to share over a cup of tea the story how he met his life partner during the past five years we met him last. It was on Shaadi.com they came across to exchange notes of interest soon to be followed by personal meetings and getting acquainted well before jumping into the fray entrusting the rest of their life to each other as husband and wife together. Karthikeyan Bose a Tamil from Thiruchirapalli/Trichy gets Tanushree Chakravarty from Bhopal born-brought up there with parents here settled came for post-graduation and work later tied the marital knot. Both speak Hindi Bollywood style to share and appreciate Indian movie music make a perfect match/couple. Bose a surname shared by Bengali populace as well helped many a curious relatives from asking them about marrying inter-caste, Tina shared jovially. This kept me from asking if this was not a correct perspective for an international outlook while living offshore though an inter-state affair back home in a narrower sense geographically. Karthik gets not only a friend in Vimal-Rachna sharing many common interests including gardening, good food (cooking also), good music with seeing places self-driven and taking picture shots. Karthik also finds a loving sister in her as his own is much elder away in Texas to make the difference growing together, he shared with me. They had been to India to celebrate their wedding with family, friends and relatives while his mother too was here to bless/see the couple happy. Finding me a writer, Karthik confided in with me that his father too writes still doing research on heritage sites and ancient objects even after his retirement with findings published in various journals regularly.
Working from home is not easy either as I found Vimal with no time to eat and sleep, forget of talking sometimes even on weekends when we were in Virginia for Vidit’s and his own birthday bash. A time-bound programme usually with a six-month time-frame but he had this assignment to be completed in just four weeks instead. Even on Sunday when I found him deep into the work day and night. Somewhere in the back of my mind it led me thinking, this way was it not at the cost of his health but no, he had not lost any weight and was enjoying the work very much as new ideas came cropping up in his mind very much needed to tackle and develop with each step he was into such an assignment. Another thing that came to my mind equally was that if his employers were conscious enough and concerned in the project like him, they would certainly realize and appreciate his dedicated efforts all these weeks and honour it with some pay-raise and some bonus for the extra efforts he had been putting into the work-in-hand on such a time-bound assignment. Yes and I was not wrong in my thinking and it was not much of a surprise either when Rachna gave me the good news the very next day in the evening Vimal coming back from work the joy shared with her. He had been not only rewarded with the much deserved pay-raise but to top it up also had a bonus for this very assignment. But his work was not yet over and he was determined to make progress well enough to be with us all for the long week-end with Labour Day on the 7th September planned to spend vacationing at some popular place together. Yes, Karthik and Tina would too be with us to make the trip more fun and joy as we know, more the merrier and to have their company would indeed add more to it, for sure! Next week: Weekend Long Awaited
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share multiplying the joy of the journey called life while in the US. Some names, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice or otherwise whatsoever intended. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org