Grand Rapids, MI is about 30 miles from Holland. As I drove out of Holland, I passed by the main street – a very lively place. I was hungry but didn’t want to stop yet. Back onto I-196, my next destination was the outskirts of the city. The forty or so minutes went by as I passed a few cops lurching in the trenches by the road. These cops should love their jobs – catch someone who makes a mistake, right? It is easy to see mistakes done than executing under a variety of circumstances and challenges. I have heard the cops get a cut out of the tickets they write – a good way to incentivize them.
And if you haven’t noticed, these traffic cops are very active towards the end of the month or season when they or their departments have to meet certain quota of written tickets. A poor way and a very capitalistic way of enforcing law.
I certainly had forgotten that there was a I-194 and a MI-6 and a MI-131 though the latter sounded a bit familiar. But these were roads that we would routinely drive on, but such is the effect of time. You tend to forget what was important in the past as new priorities take over. As they say the only thing constant is change and you can deal with change easily with an open mind – that is trying to be receptive to all that gets thrown at you. Don’t rush to conclusions as we know that what was a pricking thorn turned out to be a beautiful flower. In the class at the Q-Center, I came across many students. On the first day of class a few came out as either brash or borderline demeanor. But this was only till they engaged in the class and started participating. Personal interaction has a magical effect. Later on many a student would walk upto me, either in the class or outside and in a very touching way either ask a question or later on thank
me for the class. It was fun to teach the class. To keep the two-week long session interesting, there were many activities interspersed to keep the participants engaged. I injected a few lessons on Yoga and breathing of which many were appreciative.
My first stop was the apartment we lived when we moved to the area. Looking at it from the outside, I wondered if I would make the choice again to stay in the same place. The outside didn’t look very appealing. No doubt, the outside was green and lush. The pond behind the apartment still had the fountain running. I remember keenly how our 1-year-old would point out the ducklings as we pushed him on his stroller for the evening walk. As I parked, I saw the window blinds move in one of the apartments and stood the same way for a while. I waved but didn’t notice any movement. The shaded parking lot was still the same. I recalled all the friends who used to live in the same community and the morning car pools we used to share. One of us would take turns to drive to work. There were at least 10-15 families in the complex and the neighboring one. I sat down on the grass for some time reminiscing the past, the good times we had.
We were all in the same boat – having emigrated and found an assignment in the city. Almost all of us were starting a family and our son had quite a few friends of his own and some fans as well. The old couple and the young Russian girl opposite our apartment were very fond of him. He was a happy child, always smiling and would attract passers-by like a magnet.
I then drove to the neighboring apartment’s club house. This was where we had celebrated his first birthday. I remember we had about 75 guests and my wife had cooked for all of them. My part was grating all the carrots for the halwa. A visiting friend’s family was a big help and special for the occasion. The club house seemed small now, but when you come from a developing country where living space is limited in a busy city, any space in America looks huge and more importantly clean. I walked by the pond where we had many instances of a duck or two chasing those walking. We used to call them the angry ducks.
I took some picture and drove onto 44th street. I crossed Breton expecting to find the D&W food store which was a favorite due to its bright lighting and spacious aisles. The stores had been long converted and it was a pretty big strip mall. The physical therapist office just before was still there. Not knowing what to do, I drove further down expecting to see his pediatrician’s office, but I got to know I had the address wrong. I found an Indian restaurant on the way back after crossing Kalamazoo avenue. The avenue used to be canopied with green leaves in Summer and spectacular colors in Fall. Lunch was decent and I got to see the local crowd. There were mostly Indians; families enjoying the beautiful sunny day out with family.
Cascade Park in Cascade township is truly special. The vast park has acres and acres of grass and
tall trees abound. The play area had been significantly enhanced – there was more than just the three swings I remember. We would have a hard time getting him off the swing. After several tries we would be successful trying to wring him off the suspending chains. I can still feel those small, chubby hands clinging hard. As I would loosen his fingers of his hands, he would reach out as I would pull him away. He had his second birthday in the park. Like that day, it was a beautiful afternoon with rich blue skies and fluffy clouds. I saw a few children playing and heard joyful shrieks. If they only knew that there was someone close trying to reconcile how twenty years had passed while everything was the same, they would surely have been left wondering.