The three years in Grand Rapids went by fast with Vikas growing up. He joined a child care center and that helped Rama find a job. It was a time of endless family get-togethers, outings with friends and enjoyable time with friends. I guess for parents with little children, nothing else takes importance than attending to the child’s needs and making sure he or she gets all they want. Rama spent a lot of time with Vikas and that helped in his development. He was very good with letters, numbers and other learning much early in his age. His second year was a bit challenging for us where he was showing off his terrible-two’s tantrums. He would put his foot down on anything he wanted and that made for some challenging situations. Best of these was one day he was on his high-chair with cereal (fruit loops) and I remember he knocking off the carton and all of our living room was full of cereal. It was quite a sight to watch! He became best buddies with Ranga’s son right from Varun’s birth. I have several photos of him watching over Varun when he was a baby. We took quite a few drives up north with Ranga’s family.
The winters in Grand Rapids were very severe. It wasn’t uncommon for snow to start in October and last till end of March. Once we even had snow early May. The decision to move out of GR unfortunately was due to weather. I used to go home for lunch many days from work and driving back I recall the so-cold atmosphere capable of cutting into a human’s soul. So cold it was. If not for company, anyone can become quite depressed in such a weather. To its credit, GR was a very lively town with shopping and many family places all stitched together in close proximity. And everyone we knew were in the same boat – small children, wanting and waiting to naturalize, so there was no lack of similar company.
Coming back to what I was going to say, one wintry day it had snowed a foot since early morning. As I was ready to drive back from work, I heard the news that the conditions were blizzard-like. Not having experienced a blizzard, I started to drive. Very soon I ran into a white-wash condition where I could see nothing, literally nothing ahead of a foot! Moreover, the road was peckered with balls of ice i.e., melted snow frozen into pellets which made for some very slippery and extremely dangerous driving conditions. It took me over 45 minutes to reach home from what was a normal 10 minute drive. Rama had the same experience and she was hanging onto her heart as she picked up Vikas from day care and drove back home. Once home, we exchanged the rather rattling experience. Though we didn’t say it, we both knew that we didn’t want to experience such a condition again. That was the turning point for our stay in Grand Rapids.
Outside of weather and Vikas growing up, we had gone through the process of applying for a green card and were delighted at every step that brought us news close to the card itself. By the time we left GR, we were close to getting the work authorization that would permit both of us to work for any employer in the country.