Sunday, April 29, 2007

Travelogue: Welcome to the US of A

For some reason (which was announced on the loud speaker and I couldn’t follow) the flight was delayed. The temperature within the airport seemed to have dropped suddenly or was it just my feeling? Felt chilly but tried my best to bare the cold – sometimes you just kind of challenge yourself to see the extreme limits and test yourself. Finally I had to give in and pull on my favourite red school sweater. I saw a few Indian faces near the boarding area – a couple of elderly ladies with their grandchildren; some single guys (probably traveling like me), a pretty north Indian couple buried reading books; there was a group of French people and the rest were either British or Americans.

Half an hour later we were on our way; thankfully this time my seat was on the aisle; yippee I needn’t depend on two other people for taking a walk! The flight was good but the veggie food was not good – I could hardly eat the main dish – was some form of mashed food which had a weird sweetish taste that tickled by vomit sensors. The good part of the meal was that there was a kitkat chocolate! The non veg chicken meal that my two neigbours were relishing on tempted me. The guy to my immediate right, a chap with signs on Chinese origin, enjoyed whatever food was given throughout the flight – he enjoyed every morsel of food and every drop of drink. I was quite amazed – very rarely can you find someone like that who enjoys all their meals on flight.

Though the flight departed 30 minutes late we reached Newark on time. We had a couple of forms to fill up during the flight – customs form and I94 card. The cards were relatively simple to complete; the only issue I had was that there was a severe constraint on length of name! It was around 10pm when we stepped out of the flight and on to US soil (or rather stepped on to the airport concrete). There was a long queue at the immigration counter. During the flight I had weird thoughts running in my mind – what if I didn’t have some document that they asked for? – would they send me back? Would they pay for my ticket? What would my company do then? It was interesting to conjecture some situations! After about 45 minutes in line I was just one person away from the immigration officer – but alas – the guy before me got into some problems; perhaps nonchalant way of answering the questions aroused suspicion – he wasn’t even able to say how long he would stay in the US; he was most likely a student but his interview went for 15 minutes. And then the officer took him to a backroom where he would probably be questioned by some other superior officer to ensure that he was no threat. The officer returned and called me over – fortunately or unfortunately nothing of what I imagined happened; things went straightforward and my I94 was stapled to the passport and returned back. My colleagues were kept waiting for an hour now! People had told me to check the date stamped on the I94 before leaving the immigration counter – oh; I almost forgot about that and started hunting for a date on the card but could find none. Just when I thought I’d go back and ask I found a hand scrawled date which suited me perfectly.

They charged $3 for a trolley – nice way to make money; I wonder why they didn’t start this policy in other airports as well. $3 per trolley was certainly a lot of money! It was optional to take a trolley but invariably everyone would need one. Since I was held up for an hour I didn’t have to wait for my check-in baggage to arrive – it was already there on the floor.

Customs didn’t take any time and in a couple of minutes I located my colleagues who were waiting for me. A gentle cool breeze welcomed me to the US.

2 comments:

Raj said...

Hey waiting for the next update :)

Nitish said...

Really good ones man.. feels like I was also there with you :).
Ofcourse waiting for the next update :))