Friday, December 8, 2006

In Heathrow

I'm standing at an internet kiosk in the biggest shopping mall I've ever seen: Heathrow International Airport, London, UK.

London has been something the like of which I've only seen in movies and advertisements for the last three months. Everything is clean, everything is orderly, everything works. When I got to the home of my hosts, the place dazed me. The last time I had visited a friend's house was in Pune; they had insisted I sit in the only chair (a rickety lawn chair) while they sat on the bare floor as we watched a movie on a computer monitor. Here I was seated in a skylit room on a black leather couch being fed several types of real cheese, biscuits nuts, fruit and more. When they showed me the bedroom they were obviously concerned that it was too warm or cold. All I could think about was the fact that it was the first soft bed I'd felt in ages. As soon as I lay down in it I slept for more than 15 hours straight.

The next day, I hopped a double-decker bus to the West End. From then, I was taking in as much as I could get my hands on. The place is a completely different world from where I've been. I can drink water right out of the tap without getting sick. I can hand people things with my left hand without offending them. I don't have to take my shoes off anywhere. And that's not even touching on the physical differences, how everything looks, sounds, smells; the weather, the streets, buildings, monuments, cars, stores, sidewalks, everything!

I want to thank my hosts, Mike and Clare for being so welcoming, helpful, and generous in so many ways, doing everything from showing me the tricks of London transport to taking me out to some of the nicest meals I've had in weeks to providing me with anything and everything a visitor could want and more. It was a pleasure, please come to the U.S. so the favor can be properly repaid!

But now I have to go. My flight boards in half an hour.

...I'm coming home.

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