The Day I First Landed in US…

Come May, and a memory that comes by is of a day almost exactly 18 years ago when I returned for good from the US to become an entrepreneur in India. And with that is the memory of the day I first landed in the US in September 1988. Let me start with the latter.

I landed in New York on an afternoon on the Labour Day weekend in 1988 just ahead of the orientation week at Columbia University. A friend was supposed to come and pick me up, but didn’t. This was in the pre-cellphone era, so I had no way to trace him. I had made a booking at YMCA, so went there by cab. The Lufthansa flight had left me very tired and with an upset stomach.

I reached YMCA and promptly fell asleep. The jet lag was taking its toll. I was feeling feverish, and was very hungry but didn’t want to go out on my own for some reason. My friend finally came in the evening, and that was a big relief. My first meal in the US was at Pizza Hut! It was my first taste of pizza. Post-dinner, I went off with my friend to stay at his graduate housing at Columbia – my housing request hadn’t yet come through.

For some reason, the memory of that day has stayed on. It wasn’t a particularly enthralling day.  But it was the first day in the land that was so different from India, and a start of a fascinating four-year journey.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.