Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 8 - Remembering Gita

The year was 2012 and we both happened to be staying at the same place in Jersey city.  

I first met Gita at the hotel lobby one evening when I was back from work. If I remember clearly, she was enquiring about a taxi service with the receptionist. It was my second or third day in a foreign land and I was happy to chat up with any Indian who appeared to be in the same shoe that I was – Alone and traveling on work.

Forthright and unfussy, she was a Godsend while I nursed bad bouts of jetlag and homesickness.

We chatted for some time and Gita helped me familiarize myself with the hotel facilities and the neighbourhood. She assisted me with  basic cooking and accompanied me to super markets and taught me how to spot a good bargain.  It was Gita who introduced me to Google Voice calling and till this day I use it for all my ISD calls. (Yep, I didn’t even have a smartphone then. Don’t ask me why! ) I was thrilled beyond words then to be able to speak to my family and friends, and that too everyday with such ease. In short bumping into her helped me get over my homesickness.
Later as the days grew by, I began to feel absolutely at home and every weekend I would be out visiting friends in Jersey or out sightseeing in NYC. Gita used to  travel a lot on work and I barely saw her during weekends.

One weekend when we both were in the hotel at the same time, we decided to spend the day together. It was a fun day! We took numerous photos by the water-front in Jersey city. Took the subway to Times Square and visited Madame Tussauds, and saw our first 4D movie. .

She asked me if I would mind having a meal with her at the Saravana Bhavan in Manhattan. (Truth be told, the last thing on my mind was an Indian restaurant during my first week in the US of A. I was thinking of trying some pretzels, bagels and a hotdog, maybe? ) Such humble and kind-hearted people are not easy to come by. I said "YES" in a heartbeat. For a pure vegetarian like her there was no better option than a nice mini meal cooked to perfection, just like how it was made at her home in Chennai.  (You will be interested to know that we had to wait for 30 minutes for a table.)
That was the only weekend we got to spend together. Her stay in the US ended within one month of my reaching there and she eagerly waited for the last day to arrive. Gita was one of those who had to travel very often to the West on work and she had grown tired of it and missed her family and homemade food terribly.  

We exchanged emails shortly after we both reached India. Soon we got engulfed in our own lives and the trip of course became a distant memory.
While rummaging through some old photographs the other day she came to my mind and I instantly searched for the old mail thread and dropped her a note. Unfortunately it bounced back. I tried to search for her on social media, but so far no luck.

Gita, this one is for you.

Trust you are keeping well  in whichever part of the world you are and doing what you do best.

Putting a smile on someone's face.



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