A year back, I was like any other starry-eyed girl who wanted to step out of home and see the world. And like most families, we grew up knowing that education and doing well in academics is the gateway to seeing the world, meeting new people, and doing something worthwhile. “Porashuna ta bhalo kore korte hobe” was what my professors said, meaning, you have to excel in studies. Hailing from a very ordinary family, that is what I believed too. Unlike my other friends, I did not have relatives in the US I could visit during summer. In fact, the first time I boarded an airplane was during my first trip outside home, to the US.
My first stopover was at Frankfurt, but I never got out of the airport. Just stuck my nose to the huge glass panes, trying to see what Germany and Europe is life. By the time I reached Los Angeles, it was already dark. The connecting flight was delayed for a few hours, and as I stuck my nose to the glass panes trying to catch a glimpse of the much heard about “America”, all I could see were the tiny lights far away dotting the darkness, and several planes taking off. No landscape, no picturesque places, no tall buildings, no Hollywood, nothing. Even while landing in Seattle, all I saw were the blinking lights of the city. It had been past midnight then.
I neither knew the people who would pick me up from the airport, nor my host. All I knew was that my host lived in some remote godforsaken part of the city. So while the guys drove me from the airport, I had once again buckled myself up in the seat (the concept of seat belts was new, though not totally unheard to me then), and had stuck my nose to the glass windows to catch a glimpse of “America”. But even then, all I had seen were the silhouettes of tall dark buildings, freeways, paths winding in huge half circles, and headlights from the opposite direction. Once I reached my host's home (which I thought looked more like a garden house in the darkness), I was dutifully escorted and shown my room. And while my hosts had drifted off to sleep (it was past midnight), I had lain awake, unable to fall asleep due to a mixture of jet lag and excitement. I hadn’t pranced around the house in fear of stomping on their pet's tail in the darkness. So once again, I had stuck my nose to their window panes, awaiting daylight and trying to catch a glimpse of “America”.
And that I did. In the first few minutes of the morning light, what I saw was the most beautiful and most amazing sight I could ever have envisioned. No tall buildings. No expressways. No shopping malls. This was my first glimpse of the US in daylight.
Who would believe that it was exactly one year since today? Time flies, huh?