We are back in the US for a short vacation. Nice to see old friends after so long. We are overwhelmed by their warmth and hospitality.
Even though I lived here for 28 years, living in Bangladesh has changed my inner calibrations.
The first thought as I hit the highway from the airport: "Where are all the people?" Everything seems so empty after the Bd crowds.
Now that I live on the receiving end of Global Warming (Bd will be one of the worst-hit countries) I look askance at all the large cars on the highway. As a Mercedes E65 passes, my momentary car-enthusiast's joy is replaced by schizophrenic nagging: "What was the necessity for a 6-litre 4 passenger car?" vs "Does it do 0-60 in less than 4 secs?"
(Speaking of Mercedes, they have screwed up their line-up once again. In the mid-90s they had so many models, it confused their customers. Late 90s brought streamlining - E, C, S, and ML classes - and clear focus. Now I see a R class (ugly!), GL, SLK, CLK, in addition. Haven't spotted a Maybach though.)
There are many joys of this visit: seeing old friends, brainstorming with Silicon Valley types, an abundance of good chocolate (yes!), bookstores, books for sale on the sidewalk at Berkeley for 25c, reminiscing with the old gang from Sun, surfing the net on connections that actually run at decent speeds (shame on the Dhaka ISPs for not providing customers the benefit of the much-delayed, much-ballyhooed submarine cable.)
Children of friends have grown suddenly. They graduate from high-schools and colleges - little nappy-headed boys and girls of yesteryear delivering impressive speeches at each other's graduation parties and us, the parents' generation, basking in the glow of it all.
A staggering blow in the midst of it all: the accidental death of Derek Abraham, the talented Eagle Scout son of my friends Gordon and Sabra, in a kitesurfing accident. I pray for the curly-haired, high-energy, friendly Derek as well as his family. I cannot begin to comprehend what his parents and brother must be going through.
Yet the California sunshine is as sweet as I remember, and the air smells fresh. It is good to be back (in my second) home.