The past few weeks have passed in a blur of activity. I'm not even going to try to present a clear record of all that happened. But these pictures may provide a few clues -- starting with the ENORMOUS Belgian waffle at the very top and ending with the wedding photograph of my niece Divya and nephew-in-law Deke at the event in Boston, 17th July.
The three days in Belgium were pure pleasure, spent in the company of Paul and Bea, exceptional hosts. The two pictures following the waffle are both from Belgium. One is of the shower-cum-sunken bath of the Ah-MAAAAZING hotel at which P&B accommodated me as their guest -- it was a small manor which had been renovated maintaining its authentic turn-of-the-century opulence, complete with constantly playing classical music in the foyer and courtesy wine in the little garden at the back. The second is of a beer-fuelled wagon -- the seated beer-drinkers cycle in unison, which is what powers the small wagon they're sitting in!
We did a lightning tour of Ghent and Bruges with a brief follow-through in Brussels including a visit to the newly opened RENE MAGRITTEmuseum, on the day before my departure, on Sunday 11th.
I arrived in NYC on the 12th, discovered to my great delight that there's a shuttle bus service direct from the airport to Port Authority Bus Station -- it's called NYAS, stands forNew York Airport Service and is REALLY convenient. At Port Authority I got onto the bus to Binghamton, arrived on schedule at 6 pm and there was my sister Su waiting to collect me and drive us both back to Sayre.
I was two nights in Sayre, then Su and I left for Boston, by car, on Wednesday. We checked into the Marriott in the evening, and on Thursday guests began to arrive for the wedding. Paul and Bea flew in from Belgium and I went to the airport to meet them, while Su and Divya came by in their car to collect all three of us and return us to the hotel. In between, I also had a most enjoyable lunch and business meeting with the publishers of the American edtion of I AM DIFFERENT, in Boston, that same afternoon.
Friday was spent with P&B, doing a "DUCK TOUR" of Boston and generally having a good time. The first formal wedding event took place at the hotel in the afternoon -- a mehendi ceremony plus cocktail and dinner -- it turned into an extremely lively affair as Deke's large family had begun to arrive and everyone was in Party Mode!
On Saturday, the wedding was scheduled at 4 pm, began on time and continued with dinner and dancing late into the night -- but not the wee hours. By the time we wrapped it, it was only 11.30 at night and we had cleared all our stuff out of the venue, which was Deke's Golf Club ball room. The next day, Sunday, was a general wrap up for all the guests at the hotel, since many of them left that day. Everyone was very relaxed, there was an enormous breakfast buffet, also attended by Deke and Divya. On Monday, Su and I drove back to Sayre.
I spent another three nights with her, then took the bus to New York on Friday. Spent a night with Visa & Chandru, then on Saturday left for Vermont, by train. It was a very pleasant ride -- I LOVE trains -- arriving exactly on time at 8.03 pm. Suzanna was there to collect me and in another hour we were in East Hardwick.
So THAT was great -- a huge change of pace -- there were three hives of bees, new goat babies (yes, I KNOW I can call them kids ...), turkey chicks in one enclosure, ordinary chicks in another enclosure, a steer whose head was soon to be on the chopping block, the haying was in full swing ... and much, much more. Including of course the mandatory fantastic meal at RAINBOW SWEETS of Marshfield, VT.
My final five days were especially hectic: by bus to White River Junction where I was met by Daisy, my friend in Lebanon (NH), and was whisked off to a lunch date with her new friend David, owner of the amazing MAIN STREET MUSEUM -- a museum of droll and unusual objects, chosen for "the stories" that are attached to them. The next day, Friday, I left for Newport via Boston's South Station, on the Dartmouth Coach.
I mention this because I managed to drop my little waist-pouch on the bus while getting off. Yes, OF COURSE my passport was in it! By the time I realized it was gone, so was the bus. But I was VERY lucky: the bus does an airport loop and returns to South Station. Meanwhile I had the help and reassurance of a very kind South Station control-booth officer called Keith, who called the driver of the Dartmouth Coach and confirmed that he had indeed discovered the pouch. An hour later, it was back in my hands, contents intact. PHEW. Only another Indian citizen will know what kind of nightmare it would be to lose travel documents just prior to an international flight.
ANYWAY. So I went on to Newport, spent two very happy nights with Steve, Marion and the girls, then returned to Lebanon for two very pleasant nights. On Tuesday morning at 6.15 a.m. Aaron, Daisy's husband, very kindly dropped me off at the bus terminal, where I boarded a nonstop coach all the way to New York. It stops very close to Grand Central Station, but I was able to catch the same convenient NYAS shuttle service back to JFK. My flight left on schedule at 6 pm. arrived an hour early in Brussels at 7 a.m., left again for Delhi and 10 a.m. and we landed once more at exactly 9.40 pm.
And that's my story for the past few weeks!