The surpriser got surprised!!
A couple of years back, Sourav – who went to seventh and eighth grade with me – had crossed the Canadian border with his family to spend a night with myself, my family and my inlaws when we were visiting Niagara Falls. He had become an instant hit with my inlaws with his traditional Bengali style “jomiye adda”.
He was in Atlanta for a couple of days and I had fixed to have dinner and drinks with him downtown. What he did not know is that I had been working on a surprise for him. There is another friend from our seventh and eighth days – Manbir (Manny) who now lives near Columbus, Georgia. I have met both of them only once after leaving school way back in the early eighties. I took a chance and it looked like Manbir might be able to make it this evening. I, however, kept it as a secret from Sourav.
The confusion started when I showed up at 7:45 at the bar that I had told both of them to come to. I went inside the bar but I could not find Manbir. Instead, i ran into Sourav. Imagine, my situation – I am on the phone with Manbir trying to pinpoint his location and Sourav is right in front of me and of course, I did not want him to get wind of it.
Just when this confusion was reigning supreme, a guy walks up to me saying “Isn’t that Rajib”? And I was like – “Abhijit”? Imagine the scene – Sourav standing in front of me wondering who they heck was I trying to locate in the hotel … Manbir talking to me on the phone that by now I had taken off my ears because I was completely bewildered that I was standing in front of a guy I went to Business school with and have never since 1991!!
Eventually, we sorted out everything. Manbir was in the wrong bar. Which was fixed quickly. Sourav was overjoyed to see him for the first time after 1980. Both of them were terrific athletes in our school and there were a lot of stories to remember. In between, I walked up to Abhijit (who was with his friend) to catch up with him too. Finally, before leaving, he came by where we were sitting. I had to ask the bar guy to take a picture of us.
And then we tried to locate some of our old school pictures. Believe it or not, in the lower pictures, the left one is Manbir and the right one has Sourav and me. Did I look nerdy or what?? 🙂
What a great evening it was though!!!
From the bartender’s corner – Yolanda
Boy! Did I catch my body by surprise!!
After staying off from running for two weeks to give my repetitive stress points some time to recover, started running again today. I am sure my body was thinking we will ramp up with shorter runs for a couple of days. That might have been very well the case if I had not joined Molly and Bill for a run. For them, short run is a double digit in miles. Plus we tried out the new section on the northside of the trail. Turns out we had to climb 37 floors in a very short stretch.
After 10 miles, Bill went back home and Molly and I decided to take another run at the hills. Finally after half marathon and change distance (14 miles in 2 hours 15 mins) and having climbed 74 floors, I dropped off.
Molly, bless her heart, continued to finish ANOTHER 16 miles!!! I am exhausted just thinking about it!!
Also, those repetitive stress points? Yeah, they still hurt 🙂
From the rest of the Roy Family to Natasha…
That was a great family vacation before Natasha heads out for college.
We were fortunate enough to see some incredible sights and visit places that we had never visited before and perhaps will never again do so. We saw some majestic animals and birds, petted some really cute baby animals and witnessed some beautiful trees and flowers. We went for long walks and then ate at some quaint local eating joints and wineries. We had some thrilling first time rides and stayed in places with no phone or internet connections. Wherever we went, we made new friends – from Serbia to China to Philippines to Honolulu and met up with the old ones to say thanks for the privilege we have had in crossing our life paths with theirs. We had the occasional fights between the girls and we had the incredible never-seen-before bonding moments between them.
This adventure comes to an end.
And now, Natasha, your adventure begins.
From the whole family, we wish you the best that life can offer you. Like our adventure this time, do not forget to step out of the beaten path. Do not be afraid to venture out in your own way. Seek your own path in life. See the unseen sights, the seldom visited places, experience the lonely paths. And that is what will make all the difference.
Do not get caught up with the so called big things in life. It is the small things – that stopping to pet the dog one more time, that going to the small eatery that supports a whole family, that going back to the gift shop to pick something for a friend – those are the kind of things that makes life meaningful. And somehow, you will realize some day, that when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff somehow just happens.
Do not forget to try. Fear is our big enemy. Sometimes all it takes is a stubborn refusal to accept the alternate. Just like you volunteered to sit at the window of the helicopter inspite of having inherited a morbid fear of heights from me – you will realize that when you open your eyes a teeny weeny bit, it is really not that bad. And it is that teeny weeny step that emboldens you to completely open your eyes and enjoy life the way it was meant to be. But it does take that small teeny weeny step first.
The glaciers, in many ways, were the perfect metaphor in life. The journey seems slow at times – painfully slow. And just as in the case of the glacier, in life too, when you feel you are burdened with enough weight, there will be another round of snow that will be dumped on you. But it is that pressure that creates the crystals. The best in you will come from your moments of stress – seldom from the moments of levity. The key though, is to keep that forward movement on. As long as you keep pushing forward, the direction seldom will matter. Eventually, even at a glacial speed, you will seek your own valley and then burst out in the form of crystal clear water that will rush down to meet the ocean of serenity.
And in that process some amount of friction will be necessary. That is the beauty of life. To be true to your own self, you will have to stand up for something. And whatever it is that you stand up for, there will be opposing forces and therefore friction. And that is not a bad thing. Without the friction of the glaciers, new landscapes would not be carved out every year. Without an ability to take on heat, you cannot expect to lead.
But above all – and this I mean in the most sincerest form – never lose sight of the fact that it is people who matter the most. People are people and things are things. People – any one – has to trump things – any thing. Wherever your life takes you, get to know people, talk to them, make friends, empathize with them. They are following their own life paths. A few steps together makes both of you a better person. Regardless of who you are, try to remember that you are more fortunate than many others. Being fortunate counts next to nothing if you do not share with less fortunate ones.
And never forget people that you were fortunate enough to cross paths with. Whenever you get a chance, revisit them and remind them that you are who you are because of a lot of influence of lot of people like them. Some small influences, some large influences. But each one of them worthy of your gratitude.
Some day, your path, like all our paths will come to an end. When we will look back… we will see a melee of people behind us… never the things we carried with us.
Now go forth in this truly exciting adventure that we fashionably call “life”.
And now for the last leg of the journey – coast to coast flight…
One last intersection point for the vacation
We flew in to Seattle around midnight and had a night layover before we headed out. The girls were all sleeping in in the morning. That gave me enough time to sneak out of the hotel early morning and go meet Raghu Ram. We used to work together long time back in the same company in Dallas. Then he moved to Seattle and I moved to Atlanta. We came very close to meeting each other twice but failed in both occasions. This time, I made it though!!
Was great catching up with him over a cup of Seattle’s very own Starbucks coffee. Other than catch up on family and old friends, I also got some insight into some of the challenges of the high end clothing retail industry.
It was great catching up with Raghu after over a dozen years or so..
Last event in Alaska
We were done with our trip. We still had a couple of hours at hand. Took the family to visit our office in Anchorage. Sharmila had great curiosity to see our cameras and sensors and how they are loaded on our planes. It was a great sunny day. I was fairly sure all the planes would be up in the air collecting data. Fortunately one of the planes – Tango Bravo – had come down to the ground for some checkups. We went to the hangar and had Sharmila, Natasha and Nikita get in the plane and see how we do things.
Also got a chance to say Hi to my colleagues in the office…
The weak points for every Roy in the family
Be it Kalyani or be it Atlanta, there is a time tested way of melting a Roy heart away in our family… hand any one of them either a baby or a dog. And if it is a baby dog, you have hit pay dirt. There are not too many things that will make Sharmila snatch something away from her daughters (yes, it happened and Natasha and Nikita has made every effort ever since to ensure that she will never forget it 🙂 ).
Most people carry big boxes of salmon and other game when they leave Alaska. For a moment, I was afraid that I might have to buy a couple of new tickets to fly some dogs and puppies home with us.
Truth be told, it was for the asking. Nobody asked me though. They just kept fighting among themselves…
To get a slice of life in Alaska, we went to a sled dog tour. First, I have never seen that many dogs – 90 of them in one place. Second, the Siberian huskies look way too adorable. These dogs are built to run over hundred miles a day. For day after day after day. Running is what they are born to do. Some of these dogs have been Iditarod race winners (that is a 1049 miles route!!!). When we went there, I could not believe how rowdy those dogs were. We were explained that they have sensed that we have come to go for a ride. So, each one is jumping and barking “Pick me, Pick me”.
We picked thirteen of them to pull our carriage. There were three carriages in all. The dogs were so overexcited to get a chance to run, it was a task just to hook them up. There was even a senior dog walking up and down trying to calm these young dogs down. It was amazing watching the monitor dog bark at low volume to keep everybody calmed down. Most of the young ones were listening to the adult dog as much as my teenagers listen to me!!
After a two mile sled run (on dirt roads, not snow), when we came back, it was almost startling to notice how quiet every dog had become – the ones that went for the run and the ones that did not. They had realized that the run had come to an end. Now they wanted to be cuddled. Natasha and Nikita went ahead and paid cuddling attention to each one of our thirteen dogs.
If you ever wanted to know how intelligent dogs can be, you have to try interacting with some of these Siberian huskies!