The First 10 Thoughts I Had: USA

1. So many people from everywhere!

2. It’s winter. Why is there ice in my water.


3. The air is SO clean.


4. Please wait, I have to count my coins.


5. Why are you asking if need a bag, how else should I carry all these groceries.

It’ll be $0.99 per bag:


6. When strangers greet me in elevators.


7.  Wait, where is the bidet?


8. Oh yh, I have to give tips.


9.  Day-time Saving.


10. So many discount cards and coupons to care about.



What’s the big deal with Avocados, anyways?



All gifs via GIPHY


Travel Tips 101

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Agustine of Hippo


Once I was an unplanned traveler, but never again. As I’m becoming more and more of a frequent flyer, whether it’s for business or vacation, here are my essentials.



  1. Know about the city. It doesn’t hurt to read a bit on the nuances, mannerisms, and do’s-don’ts of the place you are about to go to, especially if the culture is very different than what you are accustomed to. Also, watching the local news of that city is helpful.
  2. Check out the surrounding area of the place you would be staying at. Trust me, Google Maps will be your best friend.
  3. Keep a small journal to jot down small details about anything from currency exchange rates to the weather report, power outlet types, emergency contact numbers, etc.



  1. Make a list of the outfits you plan to wear. I also like to pack an extra spare outfit.
  2. Travel kits are always handy.
  3. Basic first-aid kit is a must, because accidents can happen.
  4. Keep a spare padlock and a universal power adapter in your carry-on luggage.
  5. If you are carrying cash, it’s better to distribute it in different bags as smaller amounts.
  6. If you are carrying a card, have a spare with you, in case it gets denied.
  7. Makeup essentials, a tiny perfume bottle, and facial wipes, to freshen up upon landing.
  8. Make sure you have all documents, passport, etc. and carry extra copies of them as well.
  9. I usually throw-in a book, because you never know what movies they have on the flight.


Upon Arriving

  1. Keep few hours spare on your first day upon arriving. Get to know the people and the area. For example, if the people have dinner by 7 pm, it is likely that most diners would be closed by 9 pm. Change your itinerary accordingly. If you are there for business purposes, keep margin for traffic, it wouldn’t be nice to arrive late.
  2. Also, find out about cheaper modes of transport. When travelling in a taxi, Uber, etc, check on the child-lock prior to sitting in the car.
  3. Deposit your important documents in a safety-box (if the hotel has provided it), and lock your luggage whenever you leave the room.


That’s it for my essentials (for the time being, I’ll add to it if more come to mind.)

Special thanks to Ahmed, Suaad, and Leena for contributing to this post.


Photo Credit: Visual Hunt .com



Reflections on Cross-Cultural Living

Where’s Home?

Residing elsewhere away from your ‘home-country’ has its challenges, but when you are second-or-third-generation to be born-and-raised there, that ‘new’ place soon becomes the only home you truly know and love.

You are your own kind of person – a hybrid.
You carry traditions and beliefs of both places.
But now you are to live abroad – a third ‘new’ place.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai


Living and Traveling
When I decided moved to Chicago to pursue my post-grad, I was a mix of emotions; which drove me half mad by the time I actually moved there. Being a frequent traveler, I thought “How hard can this really be?” I had forgotten that I wouldn’t be a tourist any longer, no room service, no bed-n-breakfast, etc. Here, I’ll have to cook, clean, and study – and most stressful aspect- for me personally – to live alone.

Cultural Shock
I found the first three months to be an educational-adjustment experience. I created my new routine. I noticed how many things I had to finish myself before they piled up and ruined my weekend. (And I found out how much a bad cook I am). Regardless, no matter how excited I had been in the first few weeks, slowly, slowly, the excitement was washed away. I started feeling homesick. Missed Home and Family. Missed having dinner conversations and planning the weekend.

Soon, I was counting down to the next holiday when I’ll be flying back home.
The remaining time, after the first three months – that had been super slow, continued at a normal pace. I got accustomed to my routine – almost to the point of boredom. But somehow started liking it, this had become “my time” – doing what I wanted – when I wanted.

Same yet Different
Soon after a better part of the year, which included often going back home on holidays, the lines blurred. Rather than finding differences and adjusting, now I found similarities between my lifestyles in both places. How the life would go on even if you aren’t in the city. The little differences in language and currency would make me adjust again to my home country, but it got easier with time.

Returning Home
I hate saying goodbyes, and it still makes me teary  when I think of my friends and the moments we shared. Even the bad days are a sweet reminiscent of the time spent there. Home, remained exactly the same. I knew what to expect when I return. The time spent in Chicago seems a distant past, like a good book or movie I lived. But readjusted was needed – to move on – back to normal life.

“When traveling becomes routine, Home becomes Luxury” – FTK


Photo via Visual Hunt