August 4, 2009

[Experiences] The US Years

It is a year and months five since I returned home for good. I believe that my thoughts are now well soaked to give a complete perspective of my life abroad.

Having worked offshore for over two years in 2005, I was hoping to hit the dream lottery of going onsite. Luck favored me and a senior person in our team was unable to go there. As in the usual case of the software domain, one man's misfortune was another's fortune. To describe, going onsite in such glowing terms may seem an exaggeration. But this is truly reflective of my state of mind as well as my peers' at that time. It was decided that I should go but had to wait a couple of months. That's the history of the incident. Now to cover the geography, the region of travel was U.S.A and to the city of Minneapolis in the north-central part. 

Team-mates and people who were there warned me of the extreme cold in this state bordering Canada and to make things worse, I was going there in peak winter in the month of December. But such was my want to travel, these things hardly mattered. I couldn't wait to board my first flight and take wings to live in a completely new world.

When the first snow fell in Chicago, I landed there for a short visit to my sister's place. One of the best things about my initial days there was the drive-by-car from Chicago to Minneapolis.  You may criss-cross a country by flight a thousand times, covering all the cities but still not ending up knowing what the country was about. I was lucky that my very first introduction to the US was its highways. After endless questions, moments of observation and nearly 8 hours, we landed in Minneapolis. It was an unforgettable journey.  

Then on, I lived there for 2 years and months four, enough time to graduate on a life of living on one's own. I had a close friend doing her masters in Minneapolis and it was great comfort to have her nearby in the alien land. Through this entire period, I lived on my own. On looking back, I wish I had shared with room-mates. But for some reason, I had made a decision to go it alone and I did. This taught me many lessons in the months to come.

After having lived a protected and pampered life in Chennai, it was surprisingly liberating to do my own cooking, washing and cleaning. It used to make me feel so proud to have just cooked a meal and done my laundry! 

To talk about the real work that I went there to do, it was this most fascinating group of Minnesotans. To tell more of the people who live in Minnesota, it's mostly people of Scandinavian descent and with their 'uff-da' s and courteous ways manage to bring a lot of warmth to that cold city. The clients took to me instantly. They were old enough to be my grandparents but they were all Tom, Linda and Gerry to me. The ease of communicating with them made me feel so good working there. The best part of my life in software was without a doubt, my time onsite. That's not just because of the hefty packet! The avenues to grow and to understand new and efficient ways of working and just to stimulate one out of local politics, there's no place like abroad.

Flying away from home gave me such wide wings that I had no wish of stopping. I continued my travel around the US. Having friends in widespread locations was a huge help.

Some of the most memorable trips was the 600 mile day trip to the minnesota-canadian border along the scenic great lakes route, visits to Washington and Texas. Like a quintessential US tourist, did the usual rounds to NewYork, Niagara and Chicago. The one trip that I never saw myself making was the visit to Indianapolis for the F1 race. That was quite a novel experience.

Other than this widespread travels, I managed to cover the local territory of Minneapolis. The city has a beautiful route around it for 50 miles, covering the Mississippi river, the lakes and the lush forest areas of Theodre Wirth. Covered this terrain on car, bike and a scooter. Took walks around the many lakes of this city and been lost in admiration for the charge-less and priceless beauty of nature.

Being on your own makes taking care of oneself inevitable. I learned valuable lessons on health and fitness and would say I was in the prime of my health towards the end with regular systematic exercise and nature walks. 

More than anything, this period in life taught me the value of being with the right people, of knowing the importance of having people who truly cared. In the end, it was the lessons of my lonely journey here that propelled me to drop everything instantly and come running home, when destiny called, singing "Odo Odo Ododi poren, Kaadhal Paadhi thedodi poren!"


  1. "It used to make me feel so proud to have just cooked a meal and done my laundry!"

    - ha ha ha!! true!!

  2. Interesting to read. I really liked the ending :-)

  3. Very good writing.Vairamuthu should be more than happy about his d-in-law's english writing.Keep it up.This is the essence of human personal development.Thats why they say if one person grows society grows.I mean its so poetic to have brought in computer science,software,USA,english,etc., well into the submerged villages of Vaigai inadverently.

  4. wow.. amazing writing. This blog post is in particular striking a chord within me given that I want to go "home" after my 10yr stay in US.

  5. great flow of words!! You Rocked !!

  6. Nandini, I got to read this just today after all this while...and if you were here now, I would have just hugged you
    Must meet some time...been so long

  7. I loved the post; was quiet a journey while reading.... & the final line was absolutely beautiful.... :) Traveling is all very well and good as long as you knew there is a place or person you can call home....
    Anandhie V Vilvaraja

  8. Absolutely loved yr post! You have a way with words. Looking forward to more blog posts from you

  9. Hi Nandini, Were you working in Ameriprise Financial by any chance? I went to Minneapolis around the same time and I was with TCS and client was Ameriprise Financial . Your office photos look similar to my office in Ameriprise. So i m guessing you must either be with TCS, Infy or CTS . Nevertheless, it was really nice to read your write up. I had exactly the same feelings when i was asked to go onsite because a teammate did not get a visa. Living in Minneapolis or the US is an awesome experience . It removes all our stereotypical thoughts and makes us grow to accept a different country and people altogether. All the best!!!

  10. Neatly written blog good pics, keep writing, another to follow you

  11. people bring "a lot of warmth to that cold city".
    Too poetic!