Thursday, July 02, 2015

First impressions

I am sitting on the lone stool in our new apartment. Though the kitchen is in working condition, the closets have clothes in them, and the mattresses are in place, we don't have anything by way of furniture yet. Our home still doesn't smell homely, and so I have thrown open the windows wide, hoping that some air circulation will throw out the old air and we can fill it up with our smells.

When does a house start smelling like home? When you come in from outside, and you don't notice any smell. That's when.

In the next room, Puttachi is lying on the bed and looking up at the too-bright-too-early sky, thinking I don't know what. It is the first time she has slept on her own in a different room, all through the night. I call out to her from time to time to come on, brush your teeth, your friend is going to Facetime in a while, and she says hmm, coming. She's enjoying her extended summer vacation, continued from India.

I'd promised myself that I would do a post on  First Impressions. But I fell sick with diarrhea a couple of days after landing, and I knew that by the time I recovered, First impressions would already have become Second impressions. So I dutifully noted down points on my phone, to type out when I am ready.

It is hard to do a First Impressions post on a place that you feel you already know, thanks to dozens of books and movies and sitcoms. And of course first-hand reports from scores of people, most importantly my sister and parents. A year ago, someone had asked me if I'd ever been to the US, and I had to stop for a second to think before I answered "No".

Anyway, I'll try.

--The cars on the highways. Those endless wide multi-laned highways, with car after car after car just zooming behind each other, as if with a single-minded determination. Just one truck here or there. A lone bike once in a way. But apart from that, the cars, cars, cars.
--Switches that turn on in the opposite direction, mmddyyyy against ddmmyyyy, driving on the wrong side of the road...
--The weather is so Bangaloreish right now, that I'm feeling right at home. It is slightly hotter too at some times of the day.
--Amused and annoyed at how I have to carry something warm with me to wear immediately as I enter a shopping place.
--The sunlight. As bright as 8 am at 5 am. As sunny as 4 pm at 7 pm. Puttachi refusing to eat dinner because it is "not dark yet".
--I hadn't really appreciated the number of things that will need getting used to, for example the taste of water. And speaking of water, the last time I drunk water right from a tap was in my childhood.
--The trees. Lovely, green, some flowering. But all of them strangers. Waiting to be friends. I know I have a young maple growing outside my window. But I don't know what kind of maple it is. Yesterday I saw a rain tree while driving by. It even had those little pink fan-like flowers. I was as happy to see it as if I'd met an old friend.
--When people kept telling me, "Oh California is full of Indians" I don't think I'd been able to fathom exactly to what extent that statement is true. Now I know.
--Yet a great mix of nationalities, especially as seen at the government offices.
--The gigantic scale of the shopping places, which we're having to visit regularly and often due to the necessity of setting up home. The immense variety of choices is mindboggling
--When people told me that nothing will change thanks to all the online connectivity at all, they hadn't told me that there would be near-silence all day out here, and a flood of emails, whatsapp messages and FB notifications when I woke up in the morning. Conclusion: As of now, I have way more friends based in India than I do here.
--In the 6 days here, the second best thing about this place is my mid-morning snack. You can see why.

--The best thing is of course, my little niece whom I met for the first time hours after I landed.

As I get ready to finish this post, Puttachi has been up for a while, brushed and cleaned, and is now chatting non-stop with her friend back in Bangalore.

And that is how our life here has begun.


Radhika said...

Nice to hear from you Shruthi! Glad the new place is quite comfortable for you. Sorry for not being able to meet you before you left from here.
Keep writing. It's a joy to read your stories and articles :-).

Art said...

wow California!!! I love that place.. Stayed there for 7 months.. its so scenic too!! if its the Bay Area
And yes, its so full of Indians and Mexicans too. You should visit the Golden Gate bridge and go on top of the small hill and you will fall in love with the place...

Swetha said...

Hi Shruthi! I am a long time reader of your blog. And a Bangalorean living in California.
Welcome to California! It's a pretty pretty place. And going by your "full of Indians" comment, you must have arrived in the Bay Area! I am in the bay area too! Hope you have a nice stay here. :) Best Wishes for your family.

Anonymous said...

Have a good time in CA, Shruthi. Hope Puttachi doesn't forget her Indian accent when she speaks English... but really can't help it. Love to my internet friends - Shruthi and Puttachi

Shruthi said...

Radhika, I'm sorry I was so busy too, towards the end. And thanks!

Art, I'm looking forward to see the GG bridge :)

Swetha, absolutely right. If ever you spot a hassled mother and a non-stop-talking eight-year-old girl, stop and say hello :)

Anon, thanks!

austere said...

Have a wonderful time.
Loved the first impression notes.
Actually and really a rain tree?

Srividhya Manikandan said...

Reading your posts after a long time. Welcome to CA and to Bay Area.. I am in Bay too :-)

Shruthi said...

Austere, yeah really! Though the leaves were smaller.

Srividhya, thank you! :)

- -