Category Archives: Travel

18 years ago…


President George W. Bush had recently been inaugurated. My friends and I found ourselves interrogated by many French people, “How could we elect someone like that?” I think maybe they are now too stunned by our current President to even ask, or maybe they also see similar politicians rising in their own neighbors.

Amazon was a website for books.

Google hadn’t IPO’d yet.

Neither had Marvel.

It’s almost half the age I am now and I was still in university, doing a semester abroad in Paris. I met people I am still friends with today and through whom I met other great friends.

Service here is still slow, snotty, possibly a little racist.

Now there are “tacos”:

Why O’Tacos??
An abomination in all cases
1. Not a taco 2. Fries with tacos or burritos 3. What is the difference between nuggets and tenders??

And “bagels”:

At least a little racist
Also possibly racist

I met someone who visited me once a few months after I returned home, in September 2001 and was forced to extend his visits when all planes are grounded. We kept in touch with for close to 8 years after that and then gradually dropped since we were both seeing other people in our respective countries. And yet, Facebook Messenger enabled me to contact him despite not knowing his current phone number or e-mail address (though conversation quickly switched to WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook).

Facebook, let alone Instagram, was unheard of.

Ditto Netflix.

Mobile phones like were common but people barely had T9 texting capability. Nokia was huge.

Though I am not working now, I am more financially comfortable than I was then so I can actually eat and drink good food, wine and cider (cider to me back then was freshman baby alcohol, not the craft brew I recognize today). When buying a couple bottles of cider at the grocery store, I was asked my age. My comprehension has suffered over the years, so the checkout boy repeated himself in English, “How old are you?” My response, also in English: “Very old.”


The things you learn when you travel with others

In 2005, I started a job as an admin at a boutique investment firm.  10 years later, I’m still friends with 4 of my former co-workers from that firm: Leela, Cody, Marcy and Blair.  Since leaving in 2007: Cody and his wife have had 2 kids; Blair has gotten married, bought a house on Staten Island and had 2 kids [as recently as summer 2014, I took ferries, buses and trains to get to and from her house, 2 hours each way]; Marcy has been promoted within the firm where we all worked; and most recently, Leela has gotten engaged, her wedding coming up in 3 weeks.  For the occasion, Cody, Marcy, Blair, spouses and I decided to rent a house in Woodstock for the weekend together. Blair texted me over Saturday night that she and her husband, and Cody and his wife are taking Friday, June 19 off, leaving their respective kids with grandparents and driving to Woodstock midday.  I told her I’d have to check with my boss on Monday.


 following is edited lightly for brevity and clarity]
Continue reading The things you learn when you travel with others

On Ethnic Pride (or lack thereof)

Our flight from Newark to London went off without a hitch. It took off a few minutes late but made up for it in the air. There were a couple crying babies as usual, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then after a 2.5-hour layover in Heathrow, we were back on a plane.

Any flight I’ve been on whose final destination is India is generally well populated by characters. This flight was no exception. Continue reading On Ethnic Pride (or lack thereof)

Chennai via Dubai – January 2012

For possibly the first time, I actually enjoyed myself when traveling to India this past January.  Perhaps because we were finally back in Madras, where my father had grown up, after years of going to Bombay, where the language, cuisine and customs were unfamiliar to me, my father and my sister.

And now my sister and I were adults as well.  My father took the opportunity to show us the campus where he attended undergrad, even his dorm, which we finally found after following many conflicting directions.  The food was incredible and Madras filter coffee is hands-down the best coffee I’ve ever had anywhere.  It’s still hot and uncomfortable and I got eaten alive by mosquitos, but I can’t remember another time I have wanted to remain longer for any reason other than for the family I see so rarely.

Continue reading Chennai via Dubai – January 2012