Eight days traveling around the States and I’ve now lost all track of time, and all feeling in my arse from sitting in so many plane seats and airport transit lounges.
I’ve gained at least a dress size if not more from sampling just about everything, on every menu, in every city that we have visited and that’s not including food eaten at airports or on an actual flight because my step-sister once told me that those calories in the air don’t count and I’m gullible so I believe her though many wouldn’t. All I can think is Thank God it’s just our bags that are weighed in at the airport. After this trip, if it included weighing me in as well, it would work out cheaper for Pedro to send me back to Jakarta as freight rather than pay the excess baggage.
Where have we been to so far? New Jersey, Memphis, Columbia Missouri, Memphis again, Minneapolis Minnesota, Chicago, Indianapolis and tomorrow it’s Atlanta Georgia then some other place and finally New York for the last big sell of the new university in Jakarta before back to London for one night before heading home to Jakarta. If you factor in all the room changes I’ve had to make thanks to the Irishman, losing bags on flights and going through 13 times zones you’ll understand if I’m feeling a bit frazzled.
It’s been a frenetic few days but the Irishman has been doing a sterling job, and I’m extraordinarily proud of him. He has had meetings from 7.30am and right through the day at each, and every university that we have visited. I have sat in on a few meetings, met and spoken to a number of very interesting and influential people and been treated to a lot of splendid full-protein business dinners. By all accounts I’ve got of lightly, excepting of course those unsightly extra kilos.
In my spare time I have been taking notes on everything that intrigues and fascinates me about N.America and it’s inhabitants. Pedro often says that I tread a very fine line between people watching and downright plain nosiness and he’s probably right. My notes include everything from peoples names such a Barb (It is my pleasure to be working with Brenda today, and my name is Barb) Chad (Hi, my name is Chad and I am your server today, how may I help you?) Herb (Is that one straight up, or on the rocks Ma’m?) through to overheard conversations or social discourse with a bar tender, taxi driver or shop assistants. One of my favourites was the other day when we asked our waiter if he could help us get a taxi, ‘Sure thing’ he said – ‘I’ll come and hit you when it arrives’. That’s the sort of thing that could easily start a fight in S.E London but here I guess it means something else.
For some Europeans, a trip to an American shopping mall would be their raison d’être for being here. For me it’s sheer hell. I am not a natural shopper, I hate shopping and my family and friends will testify to this but in the name of some serious Anthrologpogical research I’ve had to force myself to visit two malls whilst I’ve been staying here. One was Mall of America in Minneapolis and the other one Simon Mall here, in Indianapolis.
One of the things that I’ve noticed about the cities that we’ve visited in America is how they’re designed and laid out. They are fashioned exactly like a giant RotaStak hamster cage. Each block, street, business and commercial area are linked by what are known as Sky Walks. These above ground, mostly glass tunnels link all parts of the commercial centre of a city so that in theory you need ever to have to venture outside in the cold or rain. They are a fantastic idea and so I felt just like an over excited hamster on the loose as I set off from my hotel room this morning to explore the city. I made my way from skywalk to skywalk across the city to the mall.
After an hour or so of checking out the shops I strangely found myself at the Food Court. It makes you pretty hungry all that sky walking and I’m not joking when I tell you that there were about 25 fast food chains to choose from. Eating is very big business here, as I should know. I wanted a taste of everything and the smell of fried chicken at Chick-Fil-A almost sent me over the edge I was salivating so much. BUT, I resisted the temptation and instead ordered a very boring low-fat 6inch Turkey sandwich from Subway and a diet pepsi.