First Hand Experience

October 7, 2016

I can never forget that day, June 21st, 2007. I remember it as if it was just yesterday. I was spending my day the same way I did everyday: school, tuition, helping around the house, playing with friends, and enjoying family time. That evening, my father came home from work and brought news that would forever alter my life. I will never forget the next five words.

He said, “We are going to America!”

After seeing the excitement on my dad’s face, I got the perception that the news had to be big. It left me jumping around the house like a nine-year-old always does in pure joy. Those words had electrified my entire body. It was one of the most extraordinary feelings ever. Once I heard the news, I couldn’t stop dreaming about going to America. Nighttime always brought out my curiosity and I constantly asked myself the same question.

“What is America like?”

It was the curiosity that was building up. I felt as though I was overly curious. We had quite some time left before we left, but I just couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was just the excitement that was getting the better of me. Who knows?

Our flight was booked for December 2nd, 2007, but before that we had to get all our passports and submit all the paperwork. To get our passports and finish the remaining paperwork, we had to travel to Mumbai. When everything was set, I started counting down the days and started to pack early. As the days kept getting closer, the anxiety was building up and the nights became tough again as the only thing I would think of when I closed my eyes was America. Every night I got a completely different picture of it. Sometimes I pictured America full of nature, beautiful scenery, and really peaceful. Other times I would picture it as clean with really tall buildings. There were even times I pictured it as being similar to India, but less pollution. I was just too curious, as a little kid always is. I even asked my parents what America is like, but every time they would just smile. I didn’t know why they did, but I would smile back. I even asked my aunt and uncle on the phone what America is like. Everyone would give me a different answer. I was so curious that I was trying to look through their eyes, but unfortunately no one has that ability.

The day was finally here, we were all done packing and the house was crowded with everyone visiting to say goodbye.When we arrived at the airport, a few of our family and friends came to drop us off. It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone and especially my hometown, but I figured it might be best for us. Once all the baggage process was complete, we were ready to take off. My mom was still a little broken down for leaving her sister, so my dad and I comforted her. As the plane took off, I took a last glance at India from the window, knowing it would be a long time before I see it again.

I slept most of the plane ride. Then the pilot announced the words that I had been dying to hear, “We are about to land!” 

When we landed at the Newark Airport, I was so cold because I left India wearing shorts and a t-shirt not knowing it was winter in America. While waiting for our luggage, we found my aunt and uncle who came to pick us up. The entire car ride to her house, I couldn’t stop looking out the window because the beauty and the peacefulness of everything had left me dumbfounded.

Now that I take a look back to all those times I bothered everyone by constantly asking the same question, I feel like a fool. Due to my curiosity, I was trying to get a glimpse of America by looking through another person’s eyes. Yet no one has that ability. Only if I did at that time, then my curiosity wouldn’t have lasted this long. I have to tell you the wait was worth it. After seeing and experiencing America for the first time, I learned exactly why everyone besides me weren’t so curious. You don’t really get the sense of what another place is like until you get a chance to experience it first hand.

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