Saturday, July 30, 2005

Farewell Season in Gainesville - A Personal Post

A couple of years back - around this time of the year - eight of us landed in this sleepy university town traveling all the way from Calcutta. We hardly knew each other then - but the common apprehension of landing at a totally alien place meant we would soon be friends. I am reproducing parts (with minor editing) from the mail I wrote immediately after landing here - it sounds so naive now - but somehow I love this mail!


As I said...finally I'm in Florida...after an eventful journey...

It started disastrously at Calcutta airport...when due to carelessness of my travel agent...my Indian airlines flight ticket to Delhi got canceled...and that specific flight was overbooked...so I was accommodated in the next flight...which was a good 3 hours later... ( the irony is...it was I who literally set up the group and planned the journey...I was stuck...while others had no problems whatsoever !)...landed at Delhi at 10:00 ( effectively it was my my first experience of flying...and I was so hassled and and worried about how things would go in Delhi...since I was all alone...never really felt that!)...from that point on...it was sheer madness...carrying all those h-u-g-e luggage to domestic to international terminal...then to Air-France counter...and it was late...I checked in at 11:30...for an international flight at 12:35...that was really cutting it too fine...in fact I was the last person to be checked in.Immigration and customs didn't pose any problems at Delhi...so could catch up with the others while boarding...we all had separate seats though...mostly window...
once the plane is in the air and settled in a steady height...you no longer feel you are so high up...only during take off and landing...I was getting a queer feeling...how could these monsters go up so casually (!) ... Bernoulli's theorem and all that...but its tough to convince oneself...
Anyway both the Air-France flights were nice...with good food and better drinks...( in fact in the first one...from Delhi to Paris...I was a bit shy...so only went for 'fruit juice please'...but no such inhibitions in the Paris - Atlanta flight...champaign and wines tasted real good with typical continental cuisine...
Paris CDG airport is really vast ( so was Atlanta Hartsfield)...we had a 4 hour stopover...spent our time roaming in duty free shops and drinking a cup of coffee at $2...it was the first time I spent green bucks! By the way...coffees here tastes horribly bitter...we emptied 5 packs of sugar in Paris...still it was like an ultra strong coffee!! Next time I spent green bucks was in a fast food store here...ordered a 'medium' Sprite...and could not finish even half of it! ( note to myself...NEVER buy anything bigger than 'small' !)
One cant really see anything from thousands of feets above...we could only catch glimpses of Atlantic near the coastline...otherwise it was all cloudy...but did get a beautiful view of Paris...including the Eiffel tower...
The funniest part of the journey was from Atlanta to Gainesville...it was cute ATR-72 propeller driven plane...with only 4 sits in a row...and one has to actually board the flight by going down an emergency exit staircase...walking to the plane on the tarmac...and climbing up...in fact our plane was delayed by some technical problem...so we all had to deplane after getting ready for take off...and it was a real experience running around the airport in rain...



Anyway - that was it. It was so nice to have those people around in the initial days - when you need people to talk to most. Eventually I did make other friends and drifted apart from some of them due to different reasons - but that remains a sweet memory. And after a couple of years - three of those eight - and incidentally those three I was probably the closest with are leaving Gainesville. The circumstances and reasons vary wildly - I don't even want to go into that - everyone made personal choices or were forced to - but it just feels so weird. I still remember that first evening in Gainesville - and the subsequent days - meeting in front of Century tower - going for lunch together - shopping at Walmart - endless addas and potlucks - playing Dumb Charade and "Killer" - later the unforgettable (for so many reasons though!) Miami trip - it all feels like just yesterday. I wish all of them best and hope we would keep in touch.

2 comments:

Munmun said...

too senti a post...!!! well, anyways it was really gr88 for me to read tht copy paste frm ur mail...!! i hope it helps me during my own journey to Phoenix (provided i get the visa)...
but anyways dont get too much senti on past experiences... they help u in other way than leaving u sad!!! so stop pondering n cheer up!!

satchisgod said...

Hullo and thanks for dropping by. Do keep visiting :)