r~ had a blast -- she had a 19 month old, a 3 year old and a 15 month old for company and a sprawling house with stone elephants standing as tall as her among other things! Poor thing has a cold and ear infection now but still the experience was nice and different! I got to see different parenting styles (somehow we are all the same behind the various styles :), book shops, at least 4 different Indian restaurants (Komala vilaas, Chaat paradise, Rajjots, Saravana Bhavan), catch icy cold waves crashing against my feet, visit Stanford campus and catch up with my uncle and aunt. A part of me wondered why we hadn't settled down in the Bay Area...it's this thing I often do. Wonder how it would have been if we had settled down in the city we are visiting, hanging out with the people we are staying with on a regular basis, living lives similar to theirs...One of k's friends explained why the schooling system was not great in the Bay area -- not that it wasn't competitive but rather the opposite, it was so competitive, desi kids often ended up overworking themselves and yet feeling inadequate and so on and I almost felt like asking him if they ever thought of moving to Lex. Of course, the usual response to that question is a laugh and something like, "Is that even on the map?" But, vacation makes me think crazy thoughts and I had this sudden urge to get to know these people better and in my head, that meant that they move to Lex! My mind, unaccustomed to the lack of routine, does come up with some fanciful thoughts when am away from home!
The Bay area is a super fun place to live in but life there is literally on the run! You can walk out of your house and catch the train (a big plus for r`), walk a few minutes more into a book store and cafe or a hair salon or the post office and there are real people walking down the streets (a must for any desi or visitor from India!) and of course k rationalized with a bunch of reasons why we live where we live. The rational part of my brain agrees of course but it's fun to dream of different lives and a short stay often leaves an impression behind of the more glamorous parts of the experience and the place rather than the not so comfortable ones. Because in the short duration we spend there, we don't have to deal with the necessities of our daily routine -- how will we travel to work? Will r~ go to a day care? How much quality time can I spend with her and keep a job? Or can I afford to work at home? House? Expenses? These don't matter for the 10 days you spend in a different city and so what captures your imagination are the sights and sounds and the uniqueness of the place.
The trip sort of got me out of the sameness of my routine and broke the extreme focus on the minutiae of my life and it got me thinking of things I normally would not have thought of if I hadn't ventured out of my small town. And meeting new people is refreshing -- always manages to add new dimensions to our ways of thinking.
So yes, red eye flights, jet lags, ear infections notwithstanding, vacations are a good thing :)