September 29, 2008
Rachel and cultural fraternity.
written, sept 29, 2008
In the winter of 2006, I was visiting a historic place in the eastern coast of United States. A place few hours drive to the north of where I had originally lived for quite some time. To attend a conference where I had been invited to present research results in my field I visited Williamsburg, a historic British settlement. Being fond of traveling to new places and exploring the beauty of nature I preferred to drive there myself rather than to fly. Throughout the year I had been traveling the world incessantly. Flying here, driving there, moving from Hotels to Inns to Dormitories, there was no respite in that to the extent that I had developed deformities in my physique and had been diagnosed for chronic irritation in my stomach and pus in my throat.
There was no other purpose in my life than to explore. This small city is dotted with many places of recreation. Beautiful Greek restaurants, exotic food, a leisurely ambience for sightseeing and a car available to me first hand to visit nearby places which included the capital city of Richmond only within a hours drive, a visitor would ask no more. But my less than a week’s stay was eventful. I had checked into the Hotel in a rainy afternoon. A rain that played spoilsport in the last day of my stay to travel to a nearby famous beach in Newport News. We were welcomed to the Hotel with food and wine and I met a group of researchers and academicians from the South Eastern parts of the Country. I accidentally met a friend who I was seeing after a gap of 5 years and it was a pleasant surprise. He had moved like me from the home country India to the United States for brighter prospects of life.
My talk was scheduled in the beginning of the conference and this gave me some time to take off and visit Richmond. Since I am not a very planned traveller and I like to go through events as they come through to enjoy the thrill, I drove randomly for a while and found out an Ethiopian restaurant. Captivated by the exotic night ambience I did not complaint for the 2 hours they made me to wait to taste international food. It was a crowded place and I guess, I had ordered food in a way that hadn’t given them a good choice to cook them fast. The food wasn’t particularly great but the ambience and the hospitality was. There were two beautiful women serving there and I wasn’t in my worst of attires. It all paid off well. I wasn’t drunk but tired like hell and it was well past midnight. I lost my way out of Richmond, made several random loops and finally figured out the right exit. The country radio was incessantly pouring in music and I enjoyed the great philosophy in one particular song. I wrapped up pretty fast and reached my “home” without much further trouble.
On one of these nights after I finished my talk I thought I must give up my hesitations and “give into” partying. So I got drunk in a nearby bar to the extent I wouldn’t feel hammered, which was still a lot of drinking, and strolled on the street. Quite quickly I came to a corner where a few young people were selling cookies. It is a college town and these young guys and girls were trying to garner some money for a charity. You could argue people are more generous when they are drunk but I wouldn’t know. I gave them a ten or twenty bucks but wasn’t particularly fond of the cookie. They were very happy about this. We shook hands and then they wanted to know where I am from. They were very impressed by my generosity and I wasn’t a local. So I told them my feelings about the country I am from and how it feels like to be an international. Now they were so young and the young are always unbridled and free in a friendly way. So I wanted to know her name and one of them was Rachel. I expressed its a really beautiful name, she gave me a warm hug and wanted to know why it is such a beautiful name. I told her that she had the same name as a star from a popular TV series “Friends” and she burst into laughter. She was so happy she had been made into a famous portrait.
The story stuck with me. In a dreamy state of mind I hugged a Rachel, an innocent city girl. It was a honest moment of cultural fraternity.