Usha and I were ready for a much-needed vacation after a hiatus of almost two-and-a-half years due to the pandemic. Thankfully, we were spared from Covid due to the care of our children here, Yasho and Anu. Feeling fit and fine, we left for Washington on May 25 to spend time with our family — Jai, Pallabi and Shivani.
While there, we also attended the annual Rotary International convention in Houston, which was interesting and purposeful, attended by about 12,000 Rotarians from all over the world. Besides meeting our friends after a long time and participating in the programme, we heard experts speak on a polio-free world and the environment and Rotary Peace Fellows on Ukraine and world peace. Very few were wearing masks. Before leaving Houston, we came to know that many had tested Covid-positive. Keeping our own safety in place, we reached Washington and despite all our precautions, we both tested Covid-positive the next day. We recovered well with the affectionate caring of Jai and Pallabi.
Then a drama in real life happened. Pallabi drove me to the mall to buy a Father’s Day gift. We were in the store when suddenly gunshots were heard and alarms started beeping. With presence of mind, we ran to the nearby elevator and locked ourselves in. In pin-drop silence, Pallabi sent an SMS to Jai about our ordeal. Meanwhile, I prayed and prayed. After what seemed to be an eternity, the police asked us to come out of the elevator and proceed to our car. Two gangs had had a fight and had started shooting at each other — all due to the easy access to guns in the US.
Next, we reached London. Usha and I have visited London several times since 1957. However, this visit was especially fun-filled. The highlight was watching the finals at the Wimbledon, the Mecca of tennis, where, to our delight, Novak Djokovic won his 21st Grand Slam title.
One evening, we watched Shakespeare’s famous play Julius Caesar at the original Globe Theatre, which has a history of 400 years. For two-and-a-half hours, I was captivated and transported in history. The famous words by Julius Caesar, ‘Et tu Brute’, brought back memories of my school days in Kolkata when I was studying Shakespeare.
On July 12, at the Oval, we enjoyed the first cricket ODI between India and England and were thrilled by India’s victory. The Oval was the first ground in England to host Test cricket in 1880.
We returned to Chandigarh with a mixed bag of memories of enjoyment, adventure and a horrendous experience. Joseph Wirthlin has said, ‘Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming.’
The writer is a past
Rotary International president