Category Archives: Travelogs

“Personally, I have always looked upon cricket as organized loafing”…

The drive was going to be long – from Chevy Chase to Alexandria where my hotel was. I was tired – I always am at 9:30 PM after a business dinner – but never too tired to find out the background of my Uber driver.

Adeel was born in Pakistan and has been in this country for only ten years. He moved here with his parents when he was fourteen.

“So, what do you do other than driving a Uber?”
“Oh! I drive this for two hours a day. I also work at a law firm for three days a week”.
“You work in a law firm? You look pretty young for that.”
“Oh! I actually am a college student. I am a senior in George Mason”.
I did the math – so he is about three years older than my elder daughter in NYU and is already doing 2 part time jobs.
“Why are you doing two jobs while studying in college? Does that not take your time away from studying?”
“Maybe. But I do not want to be in debt. I will take more time to pass college if that is what it takes but I am not taking a loan.”
“Why?”
“That is a personal belief. What I have not earned is not mine. I want to keep it that way”.

Things got really interesting. We talked about music. He is from Punjab part of Pakistan. Turns out Adeel was not too much into Qawwalis and Ghazals but he had heard the names of Nusrat and Amjad Sabri from his dad. He was suitably impressed when he realized I knew who Arif Lohar was and how he looked and named some of his songs.
“My dad will be really proud of you that you come from a different country, live in a different country and you know all the musicians he talks about from his country”.
“Well, I hope to meet him some time. What does he do?”
“He drives a cab”.

Right there, you had realize why this country is called the land of opportunity. For an immigrant to come and fight his way thru by driving cabs, raising four kids and one of the kids is in George Mason and is not going to accept money from anybody else to get an education. That has to count for a lot.

But what got Adeel really excited was the topic of cricket. I could hardly get a word edgewise. He rattled off more players’ names and statistics than I could possibly follow. Turns out he himself is a cricket player in the popular league in DC. In high school, he also played for the football (American Football) team.

“You said you are from Kolkata. You know Dada?”
“I do”.
The Indian friends of mine – especially the Bengali ones – will know who Dada is. For the rest Dada-ly challenged, he was the captain of the Indian cricket team and hails from Kolkata (the largest city close to where I am really from).

When we finally stopped, Adeel, got out saying “You are a very nice guy. I want to grow up to be like you. Let me get your luggage out, Mr. Rajib”. I was, of course, “No, no! I can do that” and all that… when he said – “I want to show you something”.

Saying so, he fished out his prized cricket bat from his trunk. “Try it”. I felt the bat up and down, like I knew what I was doing. I got a 50-50 bet right on which end of the bat to hold.

And that is how that picture came about.

I am quite sure my stance was incorrect. I am very sure no self respecting batsman grins from ear to ear. Especially with his overnight luggage resting next to him… But it was a great story from a great kid. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep each other posted in life.

“Soldier” by George L. Skypeck

I had heard that this poem written by Vietnam disabled veteran George L. Skypeck (who after active duty, went back to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from University of Massachusetts) is one of the most displayed poems among various museums and monuments not just in the US but across the world.

Saw it for the first time in Columbus airport, Ohio.

The words are:

“I was that which others did not
want to be.
I went where others feared to go,
and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave
nothing, and reluctantly accepted the
thought of eternal loneliness …
should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt
the stinging cold of fear; and enjoyed
the sweet taste of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped …
but most of all, I have lived times others
would say were best forgotten.
At least someday I will be able to say
that I was proud of what I was … a soldier.”

-George L. Skypeck

What airport am I in? #7

I was waiting for my team mate Bob Hickey to land from another flight. In the meanwhile, I took it upon myself to esplore the airport. And it is then that I came across this beautiful piece of art.

This sculpture is 25 feet tall and made in 1984. The artist is Roy Lichtenstein. Entitled “Brushstrokes in Flight”, the sculpture was thought to arrange some brush strokes to evoke the sense of flight.

Which airport am I in?

That was an interesting landing…

It is very unusual to get such a clear picture of the entire Atlanta airport from so up close. If you are wondering what happened – this is the answer… We were flying in from San Francisco. The plane twisted and turned about 30 miles before the airport and aligned itself to land from the West end (all the 5 active runways at Atlanta airports run East West) and then something funny happened once we hit about 7000 feet.

The pilot had made all the necessary announcements and then I realized instead of continuously losing height, the nose seemed to even out and then we banked a little more and then straightened out. Which means we were aligned with the runways but we would be missing them by a couple of miles if we are hitting the ground.

And soon, I realized that we are not landing after all. For whatever reason, we had changed our minds and instead we just flew along the runway. Seemed like a last minute change of mind. Perhaps sudden change of wind direction? Checked the wind speeds – only 13 mph. Meant nothing for a big 737-900.

We went to the other end – flying parallely to the runways on the North end and then eventually banked back and landed from the East end. After the flight landed, I asked the air hostesses – they were of no help. And the cockpit door was still closed. Could not ask the pilots and a plane full of people wanting to get off a plane they had been in for over four hours did not help 🙂

For the life of me, I could not figure out why we tried to position ourselves to one end of the runway, and then flew along the runway and then landed from the other side. On the plus side, it let me take some lateral pictures of the whole airport from barely five miles away in the air. That is a great sight for frequent fliers from Atlanta airport like me…

Wrong sign, wrong place?

I would suggest that during an overflow, get the heck out of here. So parking – sharking…

(that is River Williamette and I was in Oregon City south of Clackamas. Not sure why I had to point out that “south of Clackamas” bit but I love saying “Clackamas” 🙂 )

Which airport I am in? Fifth in the series…

This airport regularly features pictures of young kids (I could find kids from 7 years to 16 years old) who want to be adopted by a family. This is thanks to the efforts of an organization called ForeeverFamily.org.

Pro photographers work pro bono to take pictures of the kids and write up short stories about the kids and they are then put out in this airport.

Great effort.

Which airport?

Which airport am I in? Fourth in this series…

Strolling along inside the airport, I came across this nice corridor with the aesthetic carpeting (which is a rarity for an airport), a beautiful art work and the long wall portraits of a few people.

Where am I?

Here is a hint – those pictures are of: Brent Jones, Dave Righetti, Tim Brown, Walter A. Haas Jr., Bob Ladouceur, Bob Lurie, Tony La Russa, Owen Nolan, Jim Hines, Jonny Moseley, Dusty Baker, Barry Bonds, Roger Maltbie, Franklin Mieuli, Anne Warner Cribbs, Jeff Kent, Peter Magowan, Mitch Richmond and Raymond Chester.

One more of those – Which airport am I in? Can you guess?

As I walked along the corridor, I noticed something on the wall that looked like a long metal box with serrated holes cut in. Curious, I walked towards it and realized that it is actually a board that has the art work of young kids from different countries like Croatia, Ecuador, US, Iran and so on. Each one of those openings are actually envelope flaps and if you open any of them, you will see a water color card made by a young school kid!!

Amazing smorgasbord of young kids’ imaginations!!!

Where am I?