Wrapping Things Up (Days 36-37)
Well, I made it back in one piece to St. Louis for Thanksgiving, so this will be one of the last “what I did” posts about India. I still want to write a bit about my more personal experiences living/working/traveling abroad, but that will come sometime later. Anyway, here’s how the last two days went:
Monday was pretty uneventful – wrapped things up at work and had my last chicken tikka masala meal at f cafe. Did the majority of my packing that night. Turns out I had just the right amount of space left in my luggage to fit all of the souvenirs I purchased, which had been a nagging fear that I wouldn’t be able to take everything home.
Tuesday was much more exciting. Went to work for a bit and then headed off with my favorite driver Shareef to Charminar. It was the last spot I needed to see before I could feel good about leaving India:
To get to the top, you have to go single-file up a narrow, winding staircase. I really enjoyed the view of the surrounding streets, since it allowed me to get a good picture depicting the craziness of the streets:
Right before I was about to leave the entire team came over to send me off. Manasa gave me a pretty awesome t-shirt and I got a photo with lots of people on the team:
There was also some gelato that was ordered (not to celebrate me leaving!) so it was a great final day in the office. I went around and said goodbye to as many people as I could. It was definitely sad to have to say farewell to so many people and I’m already missing them. I can’t describe how hospitable and friendly everyone has been while I was in India – it really made my trip worth it and a wonderful experience. My only hope is that if any or all of the team comes to America, I’ll be able to sufficiently return the favor.
Flying back home, as expected, was exhausting. Time did pass quickly while I was in the Hyderabad airport – I ran into Jayadev, a fellow coworker and we chatted while both of our flights were delayed. 2 hours to Delhi wasn’t painful, but we landed in the domestic terminal and I had to rush to catch my flight to Chicago. Luckily my bags came out within 5 minutes of landing – probably the fastest turnaround time I’ve ever seen. But, I then had to catch a bus to the international terminal, which took over 30 minutes as it snaked around what seemed like the entire runway system. I rushed through immigration and security and made it to my flight as it was in the middle of boarding. Whew! I then spent 15 hours and 40 minutes in a Boeing 777 to Chicago. We actually flew East over Asia/Russia/Canada to get home and I spent my time reading, watching movies (the aircraft had a nice personal entertainment system where I watched Journey to the Center of the Earth [which helped put me to sleep], plus Wall-E and a few episodes of The Office). Slept for a third of the flight, which finally landed around 5am in Chicago. Went pretty quickly through immigration and customs there. Thankfully agriculture didn’t stop to check all of my luggage and I rechecked my bags for a third time for the flight to St. Louis. The security line in Chicago was 5:30AM was awful but there was time to kill before my final leg of my journey, so I wasn’t worried. My flight home was pretty empty so I was able to stretch out and sleep for the next hour and a half. And I was finally greeted in St. Louis by my Mom! It feels good to be home.