Sunday, July 6, 2014

My first day in America

“Ladies and gentleman, we have now started our descent for San Francisco. Please fasten your seat belts, fold back your tables and put your seats upright. The local time in San Francisco is now 9.45 am”. A soothing announcement comes from the flight deck of the All Nippon Airways (ANA) – one of  my favourite airlines. I am on my maiden trip to the USA – the 34th country I would be travelling to.

During my long years in Italy as a student I was never really too attracted to America. I rather preferred to explore the more culturally-rich and diverse Europe. Then in my professional career expanding to some 20 years I operated mostly in the region of Asia and, of course, Europe. This time, however, I accepted the invitation from my friends in Berkeley mainly because of an exciting research we are venturing into - finding fundamental contentment (distinct from the much-hyped happiness) through the use of modern media and the science of psychology.

The journey to the US is long. I cross 10 time zones since I got on the plane in New Delhi. Night fell twice as we first flew to Tokyo where we transited for 3 hours before catching a connecting flight to San Francisco - enduring another 10 hours of air travel. Still, thanks to the time difference I would manage to reach on the same day as when I started off. My aim is to make it for the Independence Day celebration, which my friends insisted on not missing it. I used the trick from the book Around the World in Eighty Days. I took the East route, which was also little shorter in times of flying time. 

Daniel and Lisa, my good friends and also my co-researchers, pick me up excitedly from the airport; and after depositing the luggages at their place we shoot straight for Oakland Yacht Club for a barbecue party - a traditional style to celebrate the Independence Day in the US. There we meet Don and his wife Gail. Don, a former executive with Apple (he worked with Steve Jobs), is preparing his 36 feet yacht to race towards Hawaii in few days time.

Then to end the day in style, we watch the beautiful fireworks over the Bay area, which thanks to the (in)famous fogs of San Francisco, are unique in that we can see only the lower half of the fire sparks with the upper side creating some mild flashes like lightnings in the clouds. 

Day ends as I collapse on the pillow having tried my best and succeeded in staying awake despite the 14-hours jet lag.

Welcome to America.

Taking it slow. In Alamo Square enjoying the terrific view of downtown San Francisco

At AT&T Park - the home of San Francisco Giants

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