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After the first and rather lonely visit to Ameericaaa in 2010, I didn’t think I would make it back to Obamaland so soon. By some accident I got pulled into a business accelerator in California and ended up spending close to four months there. This time around, I was largely on my own, with no family house to live in and no wonderful cooks to serve me Indian food. Survival was tough.
My age old wish to live on my own could have been a little less challenging though. Finding my way to cheap vegetarian food, looking up accommodation, making breakfast (if time permitted), washing the dishes, laundry and walking down a few kms daily to reach work did take up a good amount of time and energy. Having to spend in USD wasn’t all that easy either. But it wasn’t too bad, weekend getaways to cousins and some very friendly locals made moi life very easy at times.
There are lessons from this travel that I would remember for a lifetime. Some personal, some about the world we live in.
Money Is A Commodity – Before I flew to Americaa, Sampad of Instamojo told me that money in US is a commodity. Unlike the necessity that it is in India. I found that people there are generous, not keen on making an extra buck from you and the life there isn’t as much of a struggle to just meet their daily needs. No working on weekends and party mood as soon as Friday evening arrives. What I also learnt is that money is easy to lose, you need to ask why you are being charged, figure how to save and you will find that the systems / decorated welcomes are built by smart businessmen who want to make extra buck from you.
On Silicon Valley – I am often asked about the Silicon Valley culture vs India. Is it really that magical? Well, Yes and No. You need to work equally hard, in fact harder than India to survive in Silicon Valley. The competition is crazy. To find support for your business, there are enough good people to talk to in India and they are as talented as the ones in Silicon Valley. The only difference is the density. The number of awesome people are just higher in Silicon Valley. But if you network well In India, you won’t miss out on the awesome mentors
On People – I continue to be bad at making friends within large groups of people just as I was in school and college But start talking work and I click. Bad.
My Meme still holds true – and there are sooo many tall ladies In Americaaaaa! I was constantly fidaaaaaaa.
Cherish friends who understand your silence – I can’t believe that I didn’t call any of my close friends even once when away all these months. And somehow they knew that I am busy and I miss them a lot. And of course there are friends who kept up with me extensively, writing long emails – sharing with me the state of Mumbai rains, asking me about my accent and adjusting to the new circle of colleagues / friends and my challenges in general. Colleagues back in Mumbai had their occasional frustrations with my absence but they kept silent all along and managed without me. I am grateful to the ones who understand my silence and the ones who of course understand the difference between when I say hmm vs hmmmmmmm
Nothing beats the beauty of nature – As much as I love to get my hands on a latest gadget or technology, there is nothing that gives me more peace and happiness than going to the peaceful beaches in California or Niagara falls as I did in 2010. Nature’s beauty continues to stun me.
Strangers and blessings – I have often struggled to understand why so many awesome people on this planet are so good to me. I met my share of such amazing ones in obamaland too. Be it the ladies who would call me home and serve me great food or the ones at office who kept encouraging me to keep smiling. And the mentors who would for no reason and no possible gain from me give me hours and hours of their time, pay for my dinner / coffee and even drop me back home when I would have no other transport. I am blessed. I shall do my bit to give back to the world.
I made the mistake of not carrying a camera on my last trip to US, those pictures in my eyes are fresh as ever, but here are a few from 2013:
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