Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chalo Amreeka - Part I - (Montreal-Philadelphia-Las Vegas)

And here comes my first vacation since i arrived here in Montreal.

This was the first time i am going to the US and that was clearly visible in the excitement for the entire trip. Learning from my past mistakes at Skydiving, did a thorough plan of travel along with all the associated arrangements.


Here was the plan:

Montreal-Philadelphia-Las Vegas-Fresno-Los Angeles-Fresno-San Jose-San Francisco-Squaw Valley-Fresno-Montreal

Everything was set, right from matching flight timings along with a buffer to hotel arrangements to bus tickets to universal studios passes... Everything was ready beforehand.

Received a setback before i could leave Montreal. There is no fun in travel without any hiccups.

"No carry on bags allowed on flights from Canada to US. "

Paid $25 at the airport for no reason. Oh, there certainly was a reason - some fellow had tried something at Detroit airport and there is widespread panic around. And as if these measures are going to stop 'those' from attempting such acts. Well, had no option but to pay them and 'carry on' with my trip...


Arrived in Philadelphia after a bumpy flight due to bad weather near Philly. Well, this trip was getting better and better. Met a friend (BabbanRao aka Ashish) at Philly amidst heavy rains.

The weather gods were issuing a warning which i completely comfortably ignored...

I resumed my journey and was looking forward to Las Vegas, which i felt would possibly be the highlight of this 10 day trip...


The exquisite view from top when the flight descends into Las Vegas raises your expectations of this beautiful, lively, 'light'ly city... Since the airport itself is located on one of the ends of the 'Strip', it is able offer a spectacular view at both take-off as well as landing. The 'Strip' is the stretch which Las Vegas is famous for and you could see this lined up with Casinos, hotels, strip clubs and anything that you may refer to as glamorous.

Keeping the rains in Philly behind, i decide to concentrate on this portion of the trip not knowing what was about to come..


I take the shuttle, which operates from airport to any of the hotels, to reach my hotel. This is pretty much like any other shared transport in any part of the world. The shuttle stops at about 10-12 hotels before reaching mine - 'The Stratosphere' - The tallest hotel in the city with an observation tower on floor 107.

I get down the shuttle and go back to collect my bag - There is NO bag...
I call the driver who is as helpless as me. Somebody had, by mistake, taken my bag and left theirs in the shuttle. Jenny, the shuttle driver, innocently asks me to take the other black bag and be happy. I refuse and tell her to take it back to the airport and give her my number to inform me whenever the owner comes - so that we could exchange bags at the airport.

I was taking a risk knowing the fact that I had some cash in my bag apart from clothes and other stuff.
I made a decision. I am NOT going to waste my time behind the bag and spoil the night at Vegas and inform the driver that i would call her back the next day morning for the status.

And i check in and immediately leave for the observation deck. It was about 11 PM and the view from 107th floor would have been bright and lovely. I reach up (it was free as i was staying in the same hotel) and look down at Vegas as i enjoy my Budweiser...

The images are as hazy as my vision at that point of time !!!

It was time to get a feel of the city on the roads. Had a good 2 hr walk on the 'Strip' amidst glittering lights. It was well past 12 when i decided to do what people do in Vegas - Gambling. There were two temptations : Poker and Roulette. I go for the latter as i atleast had some chance of winning there !!!

I try to apply some logic to the game and bet on even and odd for quite some time. The strategy was working well. I was winning...
I had won as much as i had bet. But then, greed took over logic, and i started betting on set of 6 nos and then onto 1 number. Lost the entire amount. Fortunately, logic had found its way back and made me realise that if i bet more i stand the risk of going back to Canada with some debt !!

By then it was 2 AM and i realsied that i had forgotten my dinner in all the excitement...

I have a sumptuous dinner at a 24hr restaurant, which i am not able to complete. By the time i went to bed it was around 3 AM and i decide to call it 'EOD' knowing very well that i am going to have an equally exciting day tomorrow searching for my bag !!!

I get up at 9AM - Immediately call Jenny and she tells me that she has found my bag and starts cribbing about the impatient guy at the other end who had taken my bag. She tells me i was very patient - Well, she didnt know that i had other priorities.

I feel relieved and call up the airport to get the bags exchanged. There is NO bag at the airport. Looks like we still have some more fun left...

I call up Jenny again and tell her politely about the situation. She calls me back in half an hour to collect my bag from a hotel about 2 miles away. I am not excited this time - I would not be satisfied until i see the bag for myself !!!

Luckily for me, my bag was right there in the hotel Jenny mentioned. I call Jenny and thank for the swift action which made me get my bag just hours before my departure from Vegas. Actually, the bag too was not mine - i had borrowed it from my room mate !!!

After all this excitement in the past 24 hrs, I finally leave Las Vegas and head for Fresno to meet my Uncle and Aunt...

(To be Contd - Fresno-Los Angeles-Fresno-San Jose-San Francisco) )

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