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Milan Lohani’s US Visit

Traveling always stimulates my mind. When it comes to going to a new place, it invokes a sense of curiosity and sends thrill as well as rejoice in my head. For me, Boston was a new place. It was a purposeful visit, which eventually turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of my life. The 30-day long journey from Kathmandu to Boston was a complete package through thicks and thins of life, almost akin to a well-structured travelogue.

October 28th was a cold and windy evening when I landed at Boston Logan International Airport. The chilly wind hit me so hard that I could hear the scream of my marrow beseeching for warmer outfits. Nizu accompanied me through the trip as she was also rewarded with the US visit. We went to her uncle’s home in Bryton. I had two extra days before attending the office from November 1. I went to New York City on November 30. The 5-hour long drive from Boston to NYC was quite memorable because the place was new to me and I also was traveling all alone. On the other hand, my immune system was weak, and due to low temperature, the rhinovirus was rapidly replicating inside my nose.

In New York City, I met my school friend immediately after I got off the bus. We took the train and went to the 9/11 memorial. It featured two enormous waterfalls set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The place itself was so nostalgic that it took me back to one of the darkest days in the history of humankind. At that moment, I had a vivid memory from my childhood. The towers were burning and falling, and I was watching the devastation helplessly on the television. The smoke and the chaos rolled back into my eyes.

On the other hand, I was amazed by the beauty of the monument. Americans have created something beautiful even from the devastation. At that very moment, it reminded me of the under-construction sites in Kathmandu that were devastated after the 2015 earthquake. There was nothing I could do other than blaming the government.

Brooklyn Bridge was my next stop. We walked across the historical bridge from the Manhattan side. The city lights of Manhattan looked amazing from there. My maternal uncle took me to Times Square on the same evening. It was the most happening place with performances, lights, and crowds. The next day started with rainfall and a sky full of clouds ruining my plans to visit the Statue of Liberty. With a sorrowful heart and a clogged nose, I went back to Boston. I went to Awanish Ranjan’s place in Waltham from Bryton on the same evening. He welcomed me and drove me to the Extended Stay America, Burlington. It was a 3-story building. He took me up to room no 301. It was my home for a month.

On Friday, Nov 1, 2019, Abanish Kayastha picked me up from the hotel. It was a pleasant morning as it was the first time I encountered the sunlight since my visit. We reached the office at 9 in the morning. There were so many familiar faces at the office, who were waiting to welcome us. Nizu, who was staying in Ashay’s apartment, had already arrived. Abanish gave us an iPhone with Uber pre-installed on it. It was 9:45, and all of us gathered for a daily stand-up. I introduced myself with my purpose of the visit, which was to work on the UI of FME: a new product that would be useful for file mapping.

After a while, Suresh surprised me with the new task that was to create a new layout for Care Manager. Also, I was assigned to create documentation that could be used as a guideline for any user while using colors and components. I started working on both things parallelly from Day 1. Besides that, I collaborated with Awanish to make an ID card and print it to the US office employees. The day ended well, and it was time to make my very first Uber ride from the office cell phone. Prasanna, who was sharing a room with me for this trip, arrived at the hotel. I welcomed him. We had an invitation from Muna Bhauju to show up at the fundraiser event. Prasanna was tired and decided to take some rest. Sagar Adhikari arrived at the hotel to pick me up, and we went to a fundraiser event hosted by Mahika Pandey and the family.

Since the very first day, I was able to keep myself busy with multiple tasks. For the same reason, I was never bored during office hours. I had a great time in the office while working with Smriti and Suresh on FME and Care Manager respectively. The work process was easier and significantly faster for obvious reasons. The other colleagues and seniors were kind and caring. As a treat for the completion of FME UI, Smriti took me along with Prasanna to have Chinese lunch. Suresh invited us to participate in the MOMO party at his home one weekend. Suresh’s family was so welcoming, and his two daughters were really cute. Also, Muna Bhauju invited us to her home and took us to have a Japanese lunch.

I went to Burlington Mall along with Nizu on the first weekend. The mall was huge, and one could spend the whole day easily just by roaming around. We did some shopping for friends and family. It was already dark when we left.

The second weekend went well as I was fully recovered from the flu by then. On Saturday afternoon, I went to Harvard University along with Suresh and a former Deerwalker, Manish Luitel. It was a great afternoon. We tasted a variety of beer along with truffle potatoes at a local bar in Harvard. The beer tasted very different, and it was refreshing. The cold weather could affect us no more after the booze. We further walked through the Boston concrete jungle and the most popular trail in Boston, The Freedom Trail. Manish was the pro guide for the day, helping us to take the correct shortcuts. We reached the harbor in the evening. After spending some time in the harbor and capturing some memories, we headed to the popular bar, Trillium, in Boston. Refilling our belly with some freshly brewed booze, we went back to our places.

On Friday, a day before the third weekend, I went to New York City for the second time. Like the first time, it was again a solo trip. This time the weather was in my favor. On Saturday, I tightened my shoelaces and carried my fully-charged camera backpack and moved for the Statue of Liberty. I was excited as it was a bright sunny day, and there was not a single white spread of cloud in the sky. All thanks to the Grand Theft Auto (a computer game series I’ve played quite often), I was comfortable to navigate from one place to another, marking from the google map.

On the way, I saw a throng of people in the middle of the street. I went near and saw a golden statue of a bull, which I’ve only seen in movies. I was mesmerized to encounter the statue right in front of me. I zoomed in my google map and found out that the sculpture is called, The Charging Bull. I went to Battery Park and bought a ferry ticket that would take me to the Statue of Liberty. In bonus, I could visit Ellis Island with the same ticket. Before entering the ferry, all the passengers had to pass through an airport-style security check. I put my backpack, belt, and wallet into the tray.

The security officer found something suspicious in my bag. I was about to pick my backpack, but then he stopped me. I was asked to stay back. He called the other officer to check my backpack. I was just smiling and looking at them. The officer showed the scan, pointed at something and told the other officer that it looks like some kind of filter. The other officer carried my bag to the next table. I just followed him and stood nearby. He started checking my backpack and took out the DSLR battery charger along with an extra battery embedded in it. He showed it to the officer in the X-ray scanner. The two exchanged thumbs-up, and I was allowed to exit from the room to enter the ferry. It was a weird experience.

Despite being a sunny day, it was so cold due to the wind. But still, my determination to embrace the beauty of the monument managed to get me to the top of the ferry. There were plenty of seagulls around. Some of them were sitting on the ferry. There was a woman eating a doughnut. A fearless seagull flew over her head and pecked at her doughnut. All the passengers were shouting at the bird. However, I felt lucky to see such things right in front of my eyes and regretted that I was not able to capture it in my camera.

Anyway, I kind of like weird and unusual things. As the ferry approached near the liberty, all the passengers started to turn toward her. Some of them started to capture the symbol of freedom into their gadgets. I had a very low expectation regarding the joy I would feel when I reached the island. But then, the entire ambiance and the very well-decorated park around just surpassed my expectations by far enough. The Lady Liberty was really huge and was designed beautifully. There was a museum in the same periphery where I got to know more about the history of the statue. It was a gift from the French people to the people of the USA, and it took over 9 years to build the monument in France.

The New York City Skyscrapers from the island looked mesmerizing. I was captivated by the entire sight. I was lucky that I went there alone. It’s because I was able to spend 3 hours in the same place. After enjoying the magnificent beauty of the place, I took another ferry ride toward Ellis Island. Ellis Island has a museum, which is also a former immigration inspection station of the same name. Inside the museum, I got a chance to see how the USA used to inspect immigration. The recorded statements from different immigration, the set up for various examinations, and the whole procedure itself as described in the museum made me kind of sentimental. I don’t know how, but the whole thing I encountered there managed to evoke nostalgia. I further walked down the streets of NYC. Major highlights of the same day were to be in front of New York Film Academy, to spend some time under the Brooklyn Bridge, and a bus ride to New Jersey. I went there to visit my friend’s home, who I had met on the first visit. Thankfully this time there was no rainfall nor I had to suffer from the flu.

In the last week at the office, I requested Mukta Shah to help me buy some electronics to be sipped at her home. It is because she lives in New Hampshire, and they don’t add the sales tax in that state. I am always thankful to her as she is so kind and caring. I had a great time with Liana Garofalo, the US armed force and also an employee of Deerwalk Inc. She shared with me why she chose to serve the nation. She has got a nice black jeep, which she uses to get to the office. I was lucky to get a ride.

There was an American neighbor next to our room at the ESA. His name was Andrew, and he was the coolest guy I’ve ever met. He was popular among all the visitors from Nepal for his freakingly awesome behavior and his crane truck, which was no less than a high-fi vanity van. He was always big on partying with his friends and asking us to join them. One evening, we had a grand party together. We exchanged food and drinks along with them. And all of us were a bit animated due to the shots of whiskey, beer, and vodka.

I asked Andrew if he could allow me to ride on the top of the crane. He told me that I was the luckiest one to get over there. He made it even more special by telling me that he had politely turned down the request from other Deerwalkers. The ride was super fun. He joined me to control the crane. I had never imagined that it could reach over 3 storeyed ESA buildings. The animated version of me was so happy and started screaming with joy. He took the crane near the coniferous trees. I plucked some leaves from it and decided to take it back to Nepal as a memory. Probably equally high, Prasanna was taking videos and pictures from his brand new iPhone 11. It indeed was one of the most memorable nights during my stay.

I presented the documentation on the Care Manager Design Guidelines to Rob and Marc. The goal was to prepare the basic design guidelines for the new Care Manager layout so that the consistency is maintained on each page. We discussed various factors like UX compared to the existing application, an efficient approach to merge the two layouts, the color consistency, the icon sets, and sizes, etc. The meeting went well, and both Marc and Rob were positive with the blueprint I had crafted for Care Manager. The next day was my last day at the US Office. I presented the documentation to Edward and Suresh, which was again equally well responded to.

After I got off from work, I took an Uber ride and went to Chestnut Hills in Boston to meet my aunt and cousins. I had a plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. I was nervous because I’ve never seen them in 18 years nor had exchanged any kind of communication in between. However, it turned out to be a special meetup with lots of good memories.

A few things that I didn’t like on this trip are the annoyingly cold wind and the shorter daylight. The best part that I should never forget to mention is: I learned to cook. It was never my cup of tea before. All in all, it was a great trip. I feel so fortunate to have the memorable trip in my life. All thanks to the entire Deerwalk family for the opportunity.

[Milan Lohani, Design Manager at Deerwalk Services Pvt. Ltd. Nepal, visited Deerwalk Inc, USA, from October 28, 2019, to November 30 2019]