Saturday, December 14, 2013

Return of the lone wolf

After a hectic 3 years in the field, returning to India in 2010 had always been a well-planned and carefully thought through decision. The first few months had been tough adjusting back to the hectic pace but then, once we found our feet, it felt great to be back with friends and family.  In the 3 years from 2010 to 2013, thanks to my new role, I’d hardly traveled within the country leave alone tour abroad so when the opportunity to make a quick 2 week trip across 4 cities came earlier this month, I was quite keen to go back in time to revisit old haunting grounds. Come Dec 3rd, despite having to work till around 5 hrs before I flew out (crib crib), the overwhelming sensation was one of eager anticipation coupled with nostalgia.

Cut to today - It’s been a whirlwind 2 weeks on the road and as my trip winds down, I cannot wait to get back to India. Phew.  All said and done, home is where the heart is.  So what did I miss in these last 2 weeks? On the professional front, I realized how much my regular 9 to 6 routine meant to me and I must confess that I yearned for  the chitchat with my team, having known faces around me at work & the adda sessions during lunch.   On the personal side, it was really tough having to leave India within a week of Dee coming to Bangalore and despite the mild trauma of spending my first week with a full time bawling infant, I missed her.  Besides that, ghar ka khaana was never more appreciated than in these last 2 weeks…..and so here we are.

Highlights of the trip

·         Commuting by the tube, reading the free Metro newspaper & then rushing through the turnstiles to walk briskly towards your destination has to be one of the simplest things in life which has given me greatest joy
·         The sumptuous English breakfast at the Copthorne Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge – one of the few times I wished I was not pure veg
·         Much as I hate the menu, having Lebanese at the Sheldon Square restaurant Massis with some truly wonderful company on a cold, blustery, winter’s night
·         The festive spirit captured best by the public Christmas lighting – you see it everywhere
·         Riding the 24 mt Heathrow express from Paddington to T5

·         Working in LB at 185, Kings Road, RG1 4EX….. sigh……
·         Grabbing a (sandwich + drink + crisps)-to-go lunch at Pret a manger and then coffee at Starbucks later in the evening
·         Riding the elevator all the way up to the 1st floor at Sportsdirect, checking out the Football jerseys and then returning back without buying the latest Arsenal kit (till we win a trophy)
·         Window shopping at the Oracle mall – doesn’t matter if many of my favorite shops have wound down and things have changed a bit, it’s still a magical place
·         Meeting Vinod and his 2 lovely daughters, Shreya & Sonia, at Woodley and feasting on the hot, delicious Poha made by Vasudha…. Manna from heaven !!!

New York
·         Traveling by train from New Brunswick to Pennstation – watching snow soaked landscapes whizzing by
·         The amazing 4 hr walk from Madison Square Garden to the UN complex and then from Central Park to the Empire state building – whoever thought one borough would pack in so much punch
·         Finally living the dream – saw almost all our RCT logos in real -  a Chipotle restaurant, a Macy’s store, a CVS Caremark pharmacy, a Coach and Estee Lauder outlet – a consumer’s paradise. 
·         The super cool FREEEEEEEEEEEE ferry to StatenIsland which affords nice views of the Statue of Liberty
·         Every skyscraper in Manhattan
·         The uniquitous NY Subway
·         The sense of freedom all around


·         The most awesome Hotel stay I’ve ever had in a business trip – take a bow Staybridge Suites at Oakbrook Terrace. It’s not posh, it’s not flashy but it’s still awesome. The warmest chef, the kindest reception desk, the absolutely brilliant shuttle driver, the social dinner menu / conversation, the yummiest cheese pizza ever, the mind-blowing muffins, the awesome room, the super-fast Internet…. I could go on…. Do not regret for one bit not staying at the Courtyard…..If only the Chicago weather had been kinder J