I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide, and everywhere I went, the world was on my side. No wonder I found my home in another country altogether, where people found time for each other and sat together!
You spend your Valentine’s day with the person with whom your heart lies, but in my situation, this couldn’t really apply! “Where is your heart?”, I ask! “With whom does it reside?” I gave mine away a long time ago! It wasn’t for a person though, but a countryside!
This is the story about my eternal love for a place, a place where I spent my last Valentine’s Day. Boston, the city of my dreams, the city which stole away my heart the very first day I stepped into it two years ago, the city where I decided to spend my Valentine’s day (14th February 2020), the city I have been waiting to go back to eagerly (for which I have been saving massively).
Before telling you about my Valentine’s day at Boston, it is important to tell you what made me fell in love with Boston in the first place. Thus, the story of my first trip to Boston in July 2018, exactly two years ago.
Today, what I am going to share with you in this blog is a feeling, a feeling to be finally at home.
So? What was it? What was it in that city that made me fall in love with a city? What was that incident after which I realized that I want to come back here again or maybe even one day reside here forever? But can it be really singled out to one reason? Isn’t love a mixture of a lot of small yet special moments that touch your heart tremendously?
How I reached Boston was no different from how you enter a maze; totally clueless. I had overpacked, I was carrying too much luggage (equal to my own weight to be precise), my trolley had already broken down, and my Google Maps had got me at the wrong location. I was confused, scared, and in an altogether different time zone for the first time and not to forget, all alone. I was a mess (as usual). That’s when I met this elderly couple who not only volunteered to help me out but stood by and took care of my luggage until I found my Leverett House (Yes, Harry Potter style!). I don’t know if it was their generosity or the excitement of being at my dream college, Harvard University, but my fear was gone. The anxiety of being in a new country all alone had melted away in just a few moments. This is what this city provided me; comfort!
Perhaps it was the friendliness of the people who greeted me every time they crossed by, with warm smiles. Maybe it was the kindness that they had shown at every stage, from holding an elevator for me, to showing their chivalry by opening doors for me. Or was it the part where I got a chance to not only live but also study in my dream college Harvard University, where it also felt like living in Hogwarts altogether (I have always been a big Potterhead)? I really don’t know. But what I know is that little by little, moment by moment, I was starting to love everything about Boston; the weather, the culture, the aura, the view, every teensy detail!
The first person I met when I went for the registration process at the Harvard Summer School was a 69-year-old man. Imagine my surprise! He had come to the summer school to fulfill his long-lost dream of studying at Harvard. We had a long conversation and trust me; I had never seen so much enthusiasm before. Meeting him got my own energy all charged up on the first day itself. I was already doting the aura of positivity around me!
When I came to know that we had a complimentary membership for all the Harvard properties, I started getting up early every day in the morning so I could go play basketball (a sport I had been passionate about since childhood). I hadn’t played it for months because of my aversion to heat which made me dizzy. But the Harvard gymnasium ‘Malkin Athletic Centre’ offered the biggest indoor basketball court I had ever seen. I was given an opportunity to play after so long, just like that, on the platter. I was feeling ecstatic. My happiness knew no bounds! The city had become a wish-granting factory for me, like a genie altogether.
One day, on the way to my class I noticed a homeless person sitting by the road and figured that he came there daily. Thus, I started bringing him fruits each day from the dining house kitchen. I got a chance to help someone in an entirely new country, nothing would have made me happier. It was like this city left no opportunity to fill my day with smiles.
The course I was pursuing ‘Managerial Finance’, I can easily say has been my most productive academic experience to date. I was even considered the ‘Hermione Granger’ of my class. What we discussed in every class were new companies, real-life case studies, and varied views rather than formulas or textbook chapters. Our final exam was an open book test and focused only on our understanding and knowledge and not any sort of cramming or formulas. This was both a surprise and a pleasant experience for me altogether!
The entire set up that the Leverett house had created (which I was by the way sorted into) from the use of appropriate references to vivid dialogues was exactly like Hogwarts. From the cool rules that were laid before us on the first day to the amazing feasts that were hosted by our dean frequently! I remember the first line of her introduction ‘I am also known as Professor Snape’ (we thought she was more like McGonagall though). And of course, the friendly staff and the amazing proctor I had (just like prefects in Harry Potter movies).
So, was it the feeling of being in a Harry Potter movie or was it just the view from my window? Or was it the Harvard Square? Or perhaps the midnight walks with headphones on that I could go to every day without worrying about my safety? Or was it meeting new people, learning new languages, and understanding varied cultures? What was it that made it all so special?
Was it because I could wear Indian, western, shorts, pajamas, anything any day without worrying about any judgments? Or that I could buy such amazing Harvard goodies that I hadn’t even seen in pictures before? Or was it learning to pronounce all those vivid names, and learning to say ‘Hello, how are you?’ in SIX different languages. What particular incident was it?
Every tiny thing! From the amazing classroom discussions and the amount of knowledge, I gained in those three weeks to the professor who was so cordial that he took us out for drinks on the last day! The fact that I was so busy living my life there that the stack of novels that I had brought with me went back home unread was in itself a bewilderment (just by the way, I am an avid reader, I read almost every day). I was going back home with a bag pack of endless memories, fulfilled desires, and newly generated dreams; dreams that I wouldn’t have dared to see before that trip.
The joy of flying in an international flight, trying different cuisines, and talking to random people on the way was unexpected and at the same time, marvelous. And so was having such a nice roomie that I could open my heart to her for any sort of advice.
The surprise of being a part of a student’s new venture of making a short Japanese film and helping him out with it, the excitement to be a part of a Friday night party in the boy’s dorm and the galvanization to go to my first solo trip to New York which eventually turned my life upside down! From learning to play beer pong to finally becoming independent, I was loving it all.
But what if things went awry? Life couldn’t be all rosy! During the trip, I caught viral for three days and even my laptop broke down. But when I got sick, my roommate brought me food to bed, and my fellow classmates helped me with my assignments! And when my laptop broke, the science laboratory understanding the nature of my assignments and classes issued me a laptop to use. So, it wasn’t all fancy and fairytales, but it surely was real and warm and pleasant (just like home)!
Boston simply fulfilled every dream of mine within a few days. The people, the weather, the academic curriculums, the professors, the food, the aura, even the view from my window, everything was so perfect. Or it seemed perfect to me because oh my gosh, I was in love! I was head over heels in love with a city that offered me everything I always wanted. Right from my dream college to a homely congenial feeling.
So, a revisit was much needed, wasn’t it? And thus, I went to Boston again and I spent my Valentine’s day there! But who sponsored it? How long did I go for? Was this trip equally enthralling? To know all this, look out for the second part of this blog ‘My Valentine’s Date: Harvard University, Boston’.