Our Last Prayer
The car crawled along the freeway and made it’s way through the traffic. Kunal and I were chatting on temple visit. Suddenly I saw maroon Saturn car in adjacent lane which was moving closer to us. Sonal shouted and alarmed Kunal and in the attempt to go faster and avoid hit Kunal increased the speed and same time he honked. I looked on my right and I was taken aback when the car next to us was skidding and I could see fear striken face of young girl of 21 years behind the wheel. The other car spinned and hit us straight on right rear near the petrol tank. That impact sent us flying towards a ditch by the side of the freeway. The car plowed through the grass and mud, Kunal shouted. “We’re hit, we’re hit”. The flying memories of passing cars on the road and our uncontrolled zooming off the road and hitting on side ditch within fraction of seconds brought so many thoughts in my mind. At that moment I remembered all the stories of accident and chill of fear ran through my spine, wondering where we are going to land up. In that panic moment also my mind was painting a picture of a big bang and windshield flying off on my face or big hit on some other car in next moment. I was holding on to my tall cup of Starbucks Coffee. When car came to grinding halt with big thud, we realized that we have landed on grassy ditch unharmed.
The after thoughts rushed to mind- what if the car had hit the concrete and spun towards the fast lane? What if the other car had hit us on the fuel tank and caused an explosion? We all three saw near death in those fraction of second and were happy as if we were reborn. Those fractions of second are embedded in our memories all with different angles and different ways. We all prayed to God for saving us from big tragedy. Cops arrived at the spot and did investigation. Drizzling had started and my desi kurta was getting wet. I started shivering in cold. Thankfully Cop invited to sit in his car till cab arrived. I thus had very rare experience of sitting in the Cops car at USA. Our car was towed by towing truck . Cab arrived almost after 30 minutes and all of us arrived home. We carefully spilled the bins at home as ladies were already worried due to our delay. Since last three days I have been trying to forget those moments with great difficulty. Time will take care of that.
Though we were not sure what we shall do so many days at Redmond , Sonal and Kunal ensured we were kept busy and cheered up all these 26 days and nights. We been to Mount Rainier , attended October Fest at Leavenworth and Sa-Re-Ga-Ma programme at Microsoft Cafe and thrilling evening at ‘Qwest’ stduim and witnessed football match. Here are some glipsams of our days at Redmond,USA
Our days at Seattle
After a months preparations and last momet excitement we finally landed up at Seattle Airport on sunny afternoon of 22 Sep 2010 .With little chill in air and cool breeze reminded us of last encounter of red pickle spill at same place. Our baggage was looking for safe landing on delivery conveyer belt,but due to techical snag we had to wait for good 45 minutes before we took charge of Bags on trolly and headed towards exit from Airport.
Sonal and Kunal were very excited after they saw us and we were too delighted to see them after long speel of two years. Both appeared to be thinner and trimmed as compare to the way they both looked last time when we seen them off at Mumbai Airport on 08 Jan 2008.Beryl was most unhappy to see Kunal with bony chicks and lost many punds of weight and I too saw Sonal few years younger than she was. Sonal was looking like girl just out of school.We hugged children and after few minutes we were on the way to Redmond. As Seattle was passing by,the Cabbie was taking turns on various exits.Sky was clear and ambience was very pleasant. After about an hour and clocking 100 $ in Cabbies meter , he pulled car on the side of road at’ Redmond Ridge-10704. We were standing next to very very preety bunglow with lots of red flowers and kept on door step welcoming us. On the green and grassy lawn in the backyard with five little solar lamps embeded on ground were giving a look of tiny garland for a lovely green patch. In side the home granite brownish gray kitchen platform was decorated with red flowers and lovely pot pourri. Big refrigerator with blinking blue lights was chimming in the tune with micro-oven and coocking range. Wooden flooring was shining flawlessly and mearged with carpet on the sides. The carpet’s beige colour was matching with creams walls and white sofa. Fluffy white and grey tentacles of woolen spread on floor reminded me of sheepy fur coat. Cute looking tiny scented candles were lighted and were making their presence with lighter aroma in air.
The tour of house led us to well equipped gymn , shower place and spacious garage on the rear of house.On first floor room wall piece greeted Beryl with welcome sign and adjecent room was ours. After a non stop exchange of information about things back home and tells of not so comfortable journey by Air France , we sipped on to cup of hot tea. Soon we started to spill our precious gifts given by dear ones and some bought from India . Sonal had drafted detail plan for each day and soon we decided on dates for Gruh-pravesh pooja and party with Microsoft friends. After lots of talking about Maithily and her collage adventures, Cosy Home gossips and Kaka-Mausi’s kahani we retired and slept off in our warm bed.
Second day was again nice and warm day with good sun shine. We preferred to stay back home and fight with jet lag catching us. After nice long hour sleep we got up in the evening , had hot cup of Bagh-Bakari tea. Days to come this Bagh-Bakari tea is our special item from India-Gujarat which gave us instant energy in Seattle.
On Saturday , 25 Sep 10 our entourage was heading towards Mountain Rainer ,about 25 Miles from town. On the way we had to face very heavy traffic due to hundreds of vehicles heading for major event of fun-n-fair at Puyallup. The road to mountain was lined with thick forest , farms and steel grey waves of Carbon river. After a drive of more than one hour we had first glipsms of snow covered peak of Mount Raineir. We were stunned by its magnificent view and vibrant red and pink colour of flower beds at the foot steps . We spent almost an hour enjoying the beauty of colourful flowers and snow capped mountain. We returned late evening home. The visit to Mountain Rainier would be always in my memory.
Sunday , 26 Sep 2010
We all were tired due to hectic drive to and fro Mount Rainierso we decided to take rest at home. Kunal had to work from home and he had some interview with office in India so he had to be awake in night.
Monday, 27 Sep 2010
Kunal and Sonal went to office and we had our morning rituals. I did Yoga and then one hour walk to QFC and back. We were fascinated by the QFC shop which was at 1 km distance from our house. The complex housed Starbucks-Coffee shop , Silver Spoon-Mexican restaurant , Health Club , Beauty Parlour well stocked gift article shop. The days were sunny and it was fun to have walk in cool breeze. Beautiful flowers in the garden near community offices and on display near QFC made our mornings wonderful. Evening we were taken to COSTCO shopping complex. Having been here during our earlier visit to town in 2007 I did not feel much thrill this time. But yes! I enjoyed delicious pakoda made of shrimps and cheese stuffed paratha made by promotional sales counters. With cheerful smiles on their wrinkled faces old ladies of somewhat 70s were preparing these hot pakodas and parathas on portable gas stoves and offering to passing by customers. I could not resist my temptation of tasting these shrimps pakodas two-three times every time thanking to those old grandmothers. COSTCO has everything and in wholesale prices. Most of the time I saw Vasanti picking cookies and chocolates. I landed up in sitting in massage chair which was on display. I found steel balls rolling with light pressure around my lower back gave me immense pleasure. Shopping in COSTCO is unique experience because they offer so many verities of items at minimum cost. Since we were done with shopping we came out and had snacks in Café of campus. With three carts full with assorted articles we were scene to be seen. People from many cast and creed were there eating pizza and burgers. Some very fat some very cute looking women carrying their cute babies some three or four were making us feel like Americans. Sonal was shocked when she saw our carts and with great difficulty we could dump all the stuff in dickky. We came home and like curious children shown all our treasures to Kunal. Kunal thanked his luck for not having gone through the torturous shopping experience with us.
Tuesday, 28 Sep 2010
Kunal and Sonal had send the invitation mails to their friends and we all started to prepare for House warming party scheduled on Friday. Beryl and Vasanti discussed all the options of menu and shopping list was prepared. Evening Kunal declared that he is taking us to Redhook Brewery where beer flows in tap directly from factory. We clothed ourselves to protect us from chill in the air. Sonal had routed the map but with due to wrong exit we took little more time to reach to Redhook. This area was away from town beautiful farms lined the road towards. I was reminded with exotic view of heard of cows seating in the middle of the road fearless and unperturbed by the surrounding traffic back home at Dapoli. I was very surprised not to see a single dog or cow roaming freely on the road or beggers standing on the signal rushing to car windows as soon as traffic halted at red signal. No litter on the roads and each and every road signs very clear on their face. The house fronts were well decorated with flowers and decoration hangers. The different colours of flowers were lit bright on the green grass. The boxes for mail were of cute shapes and colors and were positioned in a single row like bodyguards.. We could hardly see any one walking on the road and nowhere were Paan ka Thela or Pheriwala. No where we could see people throwing litter from their houses which was common scene at Mahuva. I was wondering how people in America become so selfisciplined and ensure the most clean and healthy environment. The Seattle is really classic example of clean city. The air was so pure and rich with energy. This could be probably due to thick forests and vegetation in and around Seattle.
At Redhook floor was full of people. In spite of working day many groups were having beer and waitresses were dashing from counter to table with big trays balanced on their hands. After wait of about 45 minutes we could get the table to sit. Till then me and Kunal had tasted two fills of beer while standing near the counter. There were many taps of beer on the counter. preferred dark beer and Kunal light one. Soon young teenager was announced start of the quiz competition. He distributed bunch of printed papers to all of us and asked us to declare name of the group. We named our group ‘Five Avatars’ and after a while game was started. He read out the questions which were printed on paper and all groups started writing the answers. After every round he collected the answer filled papers from the group. The quiz was based on general knowledge in the field of science , nature, films and music. At each question there was loud cheers and young ones were confidently filling up their questionnaire. Finally results were announced an wine bottle was awarded to winners. We had delicious snacks and enjoyed the evening.
Thursday , 07 Oct 2010 : Sonal and Kunal came back from office , all of us we had hot steaming tea. During day me and Vasanti had nice long walk on Novelty Hill road almost for an hour. The fast zooming cars of different styles and make entertained us a lot. One round inside QFC had become our daily routine and all QFC sales girls started recognizing us. Kunal suggested we go to Parlour and play pool. So we got dressed up in formal dresses and were ready to go. Beryl preferred to stay back home as she was not very keen to play pool. After a drive for about an hour we were at Bellevue Center. We took elevator to climb to Parlour . The receptionist checked our Passports and we were permitted inside. Being week day there was not much a crowd but all of the tables were occupied. We got in to our chairs and settled our eyes in the semi darkness. Young and cute waitress took our order and swung away. Beer was good and so the waitresses. One with long hair and Brazilian look was center of attraction of all. Soon crowed surged from upstairs to exit. Kunal told us that they have comedy show on theater upstairs and the show was over .What I observed that most of the American ladies in their forties were obsessed and very fat. Few had tattoos on their shoulders , legs and were very proud of showing colored tattoos.
After two glasses of beers by me and Kunal and red wine by Vasanti we shifted our venue to Earl on the base of Mall. The restaurant was very big and so the crowd. Inside we saw a wall covered with stock of wine bottles well laid on metal bars. Entire wall was well lit with flood light and it gave a feel of power of wine. Here we had few snacks with beer and wine and chat. After a while we moved to further away in another restaurant and had some more wine and snacks. By the time we returned home it was past midnight.
On Friday, 08 Oct 2010 we were invited for dinner by Kunal’s friend Rajeev Mishra. We all reached to his palatial house by 2030. Very elegant architect of the exteriors of house , high entrance and smiling Buddha idol inside placed on table gave very rich and magnificent look. Shalini greeted all of us and ushered us to spacious hall. On the wall there was a sculpture of Chiense origin. We settled on bar type stools on kitchen platform and were served with drinks. Pooja -Shalini’s sister-in-law served us hot steaming Sabudana Vada and Pudina chatni which were very tasty and palletable. Sidharth-Rajeev’s younger son was flying in the hall like Batsman. Rahul –elder son was watching us and Riya- daughter was playing. House was full with joy and happiness. We had good Red wine with small eats followed by very delicious dinner. Gajarka Halwa was served as a pudding. Rajeev served Kognac shots to me and Kunal and Pooja served ice-creamfor all. After lots of chating and cracking the jokes we bid goodby to them and returned home late night.
07 Oct 2010 , Thursday evening Sonal called up and asked us whether we would like to go to see saucers match being held at one of the stadium. We said loudly ,Yes! And within an hour Kunal and Sonal came all the way from Microsoft Office to pick us. We were not sure whether we shall be able to reach in time and tickets would be available. Struggling in heavy traffic we could manage to reach stadium. After looking for ticket counter direction we speeded to counter to grab the tickets. We then ran to enclosure 106 . The stadium was fully lit with heavy neon flood lights and thousands of spectators were waving flags and pendants for Saunders. T he cheers was fused with band and had made air charged with 10000 volts with Saunders team mates passing the ball to each other heading to Crew’s goal post. Not realizing that we were cheer leaders for Saunders team , I cheered loudly when Crew lodged first goal on Saunders. It was only when Kunal reminded me that ‘Dad ! we are from Saunders and not from Crew’ I changed my strategy of cheering. Green Flags and hundreds of Saunders- pendants were waving in air and loud cheer was making whole stadium charged at every moment whenever ball was in Columbia Crews side. The Saunders were charging with full energy and were offensive but with flawless passes, dodging-heading of the ball. Most of the time ball remained in Crews half side.
When I saw around I saw very old lady and a man in sports rig , giving standing cheers to teams. The wrinkles on her face had lightened up with excitement and holding her shaky hands tight on her man’s she was deeply involved in a game. Cute and excited faces of young girls and boys gave me so much thrill that two intervals of 45 minutes game passed like that of a few minutes. French fries with beer were making stomach heavy and with bearing the increased chill in air we left the stadium. The excitement and lights around the stadium shall remain forever in my memory. That was one of the most exciting day of our stay at Seattle.
The Vastu Shanti –cum- Gruh Pravesh Pooja was planned on Saturday 09 Oct 2010. Kunal and Sonal left early to bring priest from Bothal . In a traditional Indian Kurta Pyajama I started the feeling of festivity like we had SatyaNarayan Pooja back at home every year. We mustered the samagri for pooja and arranging the hall for accomodating the holly fire i.e. Havan rituals. By 1100 Priest arrived. Mr Sudesh Kumar Mishra who was our priest was looking typical pandit from Tirupathy. Long tail of hair neatly tied up, white Dhoti and Angavastra, stripes of white Bhasma on his forehead made him very holly and spititual man. Quickly he started arranging and making sthapana of the Navagrahas, started chanting the Gayatri mantra and Atharvashirsha. Our house was filled with essence of agarbatti and holly vibrations of Mantras. The priest was chanting mantras around the holy fire. Almost after hour long ritual we concluded the Pooja and after praying all the Gods and Vastu we took prasada made by Vasanti.
Now was a task to drive all the way back to Boothal to drop Panditji back to temple. Kunal invited me to accompany them. I was too willing to move out and see the only temple of Seattle. Kunal drove us to Temple where Pandit got down. We had Darshan of all dieties. Starting from South style Ganesha idol there were idols of all Gods. Being Navaratri season temple was full with Indians. Families were having Prasadam given to them after Arrati. They were from all relegions and were speaking Telgu, Kannada, Marathi and Hindi. Ladies were dressed in typical Indian style and children were enjoying the Ladoos .After a while we left temple and headed way back home. Instead of internal route we selected the freeway route. We stopped on our way before hitting the Freway at Starbucks and picked up Coffee. Kunal and myself we sat on front seat and Sonal in her burgandi sarree sat on rear seat. We were chatting about the temple and planning to visit temple next day. Freeway had steady traffic and road was wet with water due to drizzle in the past few hours. The freeway was packed with traffic and I could see a lot of cars ahead. Little did I know that the next few seconds I will never forget throughout my life.
Sunday was full with activity as Kunal and Sonal had invited some of their friends for lunch and then Shankar was to visit us by afternoon. As usual ladies were busy in kitchen. Sonal was busy with organizing dishes and glasses where as Beryl was making Pasta, salad and chicken for lunch. Zena and her fiancée arrived first. The intelegince was radiant on the faces of both. They haul from Mauritius and told us about their country and people. We had chat on beautiful beaches and climate in Mauritius. After a while Pinky and her fiancée Akshay arrived. Pinky is Kunals collage friend and her fiancée Akshay hails from Hydrabad. After couple of beer glasses lunch was served and we had hot delicious lunch. We bid them bye and took some rest. Shankar and Anu arrived by 4.30 hrs in a car. Both of them were returning from trek and made it convenient to visit us on their way back. We were very very happy to meet Shankar and Anu after almost three years. Last we met when we visited Sanfransisco in Aug 2007. Shankar has graduated himself to Doctorate level and Anu had grown to big position in her Hospital. We talked about the recent Course get together at Dapoli and about our course mates. I updated him on my recent shipyard activities and whos-who back in India. Shankar had to catch return flight by 1830 hrs so both of them left after a cup of tea and snacks.
Monday , 11 Oct 2010
Me and Vasanti had long walk and we took video of nearby Chandler park and community houses. In a park we met cute Russian kid with his baby sitter. He was stunned when he heard me singing Russian song ‘ Pustbigut..Gena Crockodile song’ I could speak in broken Russian with the lady babysitter Natalia and she too was happy to know that a stranger in a partk at USA speaking Russian. Since we did not have car we preferred to stay in-door. Kunal made good Martini for us and we had lovely evening with Martini.
Tusday,12 Oct 2001
Kunal and Sonal informed us that they have spoken with Insurance agent and they will be getting rental car today. Visit to medical professional to check integrity of our bodies after the accident is yet pending. Sonal had prepared for presentation previous evening and was little tense during breakfast. Both left for office by 0900 hrs. I did Yoga and Vasanti prepared for our breakfast. Afternice hot water bath in ground floor bathroom , I savoured new dish made by Vasanti for breakfast , Eggs on sabji. Sonal picked us from house in the afternoon and dropped us at Overlake Transit Center Bus Stop. From there we boarded No.566 no and got down at Bellevue Transit Center. We walked towards Lincon’s Square where Bellevue Mall located. Mall was spread across very large campus. On ground floor we spent some time in Mincy’s and found cloth were very costly as compare to Target and Wallmart. On upper floor we entered JC Penny’s and got lost for next three hours amidst cloths and home décor items. We selectively picked up few tops for Maithu and Beryl took nice pull over for her. Sonal and Kunal came to take us home. We were very exhausted and so were the children. I started experiments with my new Laptop and Sonal –Kunal went out to get freshened up.