On January 18th, 2013, me and my family started our trip to India to attend a wedding in the extended family. We got up early, washed and got dressed for the long journey overseas. We had some leftover orange chicken and rice for breakfast and set out for Denver International Airport at 7:30 am. After getting our seat assignments and checking in our luggage, we proceeded to the gate. We had three hours to spare as our flight was to depart at noon. There were nice shops and restaurants lined on both sides of the walkways. We decided to eat at a restaurant called Mesa Verde. From the place where we were seated, we could see a wall to wall picture of an archaeological site that showed the remains of a group of Native American dwellings built out of limestone at the edge of a cliff. I stared at the beautiful picture and wondered where it was located. One of our family member remarked that it was the picture of Manitou Cliff Dwellings. I had visited the
Manitou Cliff Dwellings and even though the native dwellings in the picture had similar features, I could tell that it was not the same place. Hence I uttered a confused “may be” to the remark.
The brunch at Mesa Verde Restaurant at DIA, was very delicious. The silver ware set on the table were shiny and steel colored and before touching them we thought they were made of stainless steel. Often it happens that we think of a reality and till we have the right information, our imagination is our reality, as real as it can get. I thanked God for the tasty meal and reminded others to do the same. This thanksgiving exercise keeps me happy and reminds me of my position in relation to the big picture.
Our flight connections were at Seattle and Dubai respectively before we were to reach Kolkata, our final destination. While we waited at the gate to board on the Alaska Air flight to Seattle, we saw two middle aged men in light gray sweats, walking together towards the gate with one of their right and left hands together in a hand-cuff. They were accompanied by two other men in tan suits on both sides. It hit me at that moment that they were convicts being transported to another penitentiary. One of our family member observed, “That must be pretty humiliating.” They were led to the back of the information desk near the gate to wait. During the flight, I wondered a few times if the civilian passengers were safe, travelling with the two dangerous criminals.
When the plane landed at the Seattle airport, the sky was a light gray haze. Coming from Colorado, we were used to clear skies and bright sunlight. It was at first hard for me to imagine how someone could put up with the gloominess throughout the day and for days. Later , when we grabbed a sandwich at Runway Grill , I noticed that the sitting area had an artistic model of clouds hanging from the ceiling. I saw the pale greenish gray translucent discs arranged with slight overlaps to depict the clouds. It made me think that the people of Seattle had accepted the gloom in a good way and made it part of their identity. We had to take three train shuttles to go from the North gate to the South gate. From Seattle we had a fourteen-hour flight to Dubai. The food and service provided by Emirates Airways made the long journey across the North Pole, comfortable and enjoyable. I watched three movies of my choice, got up frequently to visit the lavatory and drank water at every opportunity.
At Dubai airport we had a seven-hour layover. The airport was clean, modern and glitzy. The local time was displayed by the numerous round Rolex wall clocks. After a five min walk from the security check, there was a big indoor pond and lush green plants around it. There were many artistic structures all around the airport. I took in the beauty from the standpoint of an outsider. There were tons of shops and restaurants . The unique feature of Dubai airport was the numerous shops selling gold jewellery. I bought some ornaments for my daughter and self.
From Dubai, it took three and a half hours to reach Kolkata. After arriving at Kolkata, I was able to meet and spend time with my close relatives. One day, I went to a shopping mall located close to where we were staying. I was looking to buy a notebook. I briefly looked at the picture on the cover, thumbed through the pages quickly and decided to buy one. When I showed it to one of my family member, he read the title on the cover. It said “Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, USA”. He remarked, “Seriously, are you coming all the way from Colorado to India and buying a notebook with a picture of a national park in Colorado?” I nodded my head because I was missing Colorado.
On the cover was a picture of a group of limestone formations that looked like tall towers with small windows. These were remains of native American dwellings curved from the cliff wall several hundred years ago. The limestone cliff had greenish water marks and had lush green vegetation all around it. It looked like a beautiful picture but I hardly understood the answer looking at me in the face. Several hours later, I actually made the connection that the picture I had seen at the cafe at DIA was in fact of Mesa Verde National Park.