I arrived at Mumbai Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) airport on 10 August 2004 night around 9 PM. I remember that I had five kilograms of excess luggage as it was my first trip as student and I had to make sure that I was able to carry all the needed stuff on my new journey to United States of America. I should express my gratitude to Delta airlines officials for permitting me to carry this excess luggage without any extra charge. I met my co-passenger and also my future roommate ¢‚¬ËœTrilok Shetti¢‚¬„¢ who was going to accompany me throughout this long journey all way to Lubbock, Texas. There was also another girl and a guy who were travelling to Oklahoma State University in our flight.
It was my first experience flying abroad from India and was indeed a very thrilling experience to experience the airplane take-off (only such experience I had before has been the one at the Rainbow ride in Essell World theme park of Mumbai). We had a light supper and soon we went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I could see clouds below me. Our flight arrived in Paris around 12:55 PM. It is on the plane that I came to know that our flight was not a direct one to New York but via Paris [:-)]. I revisited Paris after several years and enjoyed New Year eve under Eiffel Tower on 31st December 2011.
While boarding flight to New York, I experienced an embarrassment of being searched by security along with another American lady. The security guys first checked my luggage, then they told me to remove my coat, my shoes and for a moment I was worried, would he also ask me to take my pants off [:-)]. The American woman was refusing to be strip searched but was told that she would not be allowed to board the flight to New York if she did not follow their instructions.
Our flight arrived New York¢‚¬„¢s John F. Kennedy international airport around 3:50 PM on 11 August 2004. We had a few hours before we had to board our flight to Dallas and so I, Trilok and another prospective Red Raider from Chennai ¢‚¬ËœRamshastry¢‚¬„¢ went to sleep. It started to rain very heavily in New York and all flights started being cancelled one after another. Our flight from New York to Dallas was also cancelled. We came to know about it when we woke up after a few hours from our deep sleep from a tiring journey.
We had no alternative but to patiently wait at the airport for next available flight to Dallas, Texas. Very soon we were told that since all flights were cancelled and there was a big waiting list, we would have to spend our night at JFK Airport. It was weather problem and nobody takes the responsibility for AN ACT OF GOD [:-)]. There were plenty of International students at New York¢‚¬„¢s JFK airport that day and all were unhappy that their connecting flights to respective destinations got cancelled. My first impression was that my flight would be from Mumbai to New York and then to Lubbock. But, I already had a longer flight from Mumbai to Paris and Paris to New York. Here, I come to know that from Delta that we would have to go from New York to Cincinnati and from Cincinnati to Dallas and from Dallas to Lubbock and this flight would be for boarding on 12th August 2004 at 3:45 PM .
It was an absolutely boring experience to spend the entire night on JFK airport. Coming as International student from India to US, everything was pricy at the Airport. Glad that mom had packed some Indian sweets and other snacks that I did not find it necessary to spend $5 for sandwich (which was then equivalent to INR 250. I remember eating my favorite Sandwiches in India for INR 10 and spending INR 250 for same was too much. ‚ Today, I drive an Audi A4 and thinking of those first days in US is really humbling). I remember that I tried making a call via payphone in New York and cursed myself for wasting $1 when the call dropped and did not go through [:-(].
To our surprise, we came to know that our flight reservation status for 12 August 2004 was temporary and we would not be able to travel by this flight. Our Airline agent also told us that there were some empty seats on previous flight to Dallas and she was surprised that we (me and Trilok) were not put on that flight. We were extremely frustrated with this mishap and had to wait for evening flight to Dallas but the problem was that our seats were not guaranteed and we were on waitlist.
It was a flight agent in New York named Donna Barret. I do not know the connection but I still remember her name after 10 years when I met her only once in my life and I was able to track down the first email that I composed after arriving in US because of being able to recollect Donna Barret. Thanks to Donna that she move me and Trilok up on the waitlist and we did not need to spend another night at New York airport. We were finally leaving New York and I visited New York back in Thanksgiving holidays of November 2006 after being employed at Qualcomm in San Diego.‚ While we cursed our luck that day for this experience;Today I cherish such a unique first experience to US and I can still re-live that experience after becoming the permanent resident of US on highest preference EB1 category.
When our flight arrived in Dallas, it was already late around 7 PM and I was extremely tired with the long and hectic journey so far. Due to delay in arriving at Dallas, we had also lost the last connecting flight to Lubbock and to our bad luck; we would have to spend a night at Dallas Airport. ‚ When we arrived at Dallas Fort Worth Airport, we were really tired and at that point of time, I did not think twice about spending $3 for a luggage trolley to move our heavy luggage. The weather in Dallas was still bad and we could see dark clouds below when our flight was landing in Dallas. The bad weather had delayed our arrival in Dallas by an hour and hence we lost our connecting flight to Lubbock.
At Dallas airport, we requested the airlines agent, that we were International students and have travelled for more than 40 hours now and would greatly appreciate a free accommodation for a night. Although, we were offered accommodation at discounted rate of $38 per night near the airport, I remember that as students we had declined to spend that money for one night. I have lived in Dallas for 5 years now 2008 to 2013 and indeed $38 per night airport accommodation is a bargain but how could you convince that to the international students from India who had just arrived to America ?
At Dallas Airport, we met a guy Piyush who was going to Lamar University, Texas. Three of us decided to halt at the airport and got 15 sheets to warm ourselves at the airport. There was a sweet lady who offered us to make as many calls as we want within US. First thing is I called a distant relative of ours in Dallas and just mentioned to him that I was not able to make a call back home but if he received any call from home, please mention that I was safe. There had been no communication for more than 48 hours now. I also called my cousin Anish in New York. He was about to leave to India next day for his marriage and I wished him the best for the same. I was in touch with one of my seniors at Texas Tech and I have always been in touch with him. He sent an email on behalf of me and Trilok back home that we were safe at DFW airport and would be reaching Lubbock safely the next morning. Today Amit is a manager at Texas Instruments Inc. and he also informed that night to the India Student Association (ISA) to pick-up me and Trilok from the airport the next morning.
I remember we played cricket at DFW airport by making ball out of our soiled socks [:-)]‚ and on 13th August 2014 morning, we bid a goodbye to Piyush and finally boarded flight for our final journey to Lubbock, TX. Oh yes! ‚ At Last… after 62 hours of journey on 13th August 2014 at around 2 PM in afternoon we arrived Lubbock..FINALLY!!!! I met my next roommate Atul Dixit in Lubbock who also made salty Maggie noodles for me and Trilok [:-)]. First recipe convinced us culinary skills our of new roommate…to add excess salt in food.
Most students experience a Jet lag when they arrive for first time in US from India. However, Since Our Jet itself got lagged, we never experienced a Jet Lag [:-)]. In fact, the very next morning, I did some Yoga Asanas and was feeling highly energetic. I was all set for my next venture of pursuing MS in EE from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX and my first address in US was
201 Indiana Ave 328C
Lubbock, TX 79415
What a memorable experience of arriving in America. Yesterday 31st March 2014, it is also a (Hindu) New Year¢‚¬„¢s day and I go a gift from America this day. I received the receipt notice of my permanent residency to US welcoming me to United States of America. You can view the receipt notice by clicking  here.
I qualified for highest preference category. After a very tough Kazarian Request For Evidence (RFE) from USCIS and based on my International publications and pending US Patent, USCIS approved my petition for US permanent residency. I did not even pursue a PhD degree for this and I am really proud of this achievement. As a spiritualist, I believe in higher power and I have strong faith that that higher power paved the way to my US permanent residency. I applied for premium processing and passed Kazarian RFE and I also did not have any kind of FBI background check nor did I receive any EAD before I got my PR. Isn’t that some kind of miracle???
When I came to US, I had come with just 2 bags of goods and some money. Today, I drive luxury car Audi and make several times more money in one month than how much I initially got with me. So much has changed over last 10 years. I also got my permanent residency of Canada during these years. Today, I have a popular blog in America and I educate and entertain my readers through this blog. I also have an upcoming book ¢‚¬Å“Sustaining Moore¢‚¬„¢s Law: The Macroeconomics of US Microelectronics Industry¢‚¬ that would be published in 2014. I think I did well in this land of opportunity. I do thank USA for this opportunity and hope to bring about a positive change in this world by living in America. That is my AMERICAN DREAM.
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