Bhanu had planned a long trip between 23rd and 28th June to New York, Washington and Pittsburgh. I was eager to experience the long distance driving on the freeway and was looking forward to visiting places about which I had only heard all these years. Vishwa had booked hotel accommodation everywhere except in New Jersey where we were planning to invade my niece Nanda’s house. My wife was worried as to how she would survive eating in Mc Donalds, Subway, or some such place for nearly six days and was planning to carry as much food stuff as possible for her consumption. Her food habits are very traditional and she knew what was in store for her as she had visited the US before.
We started procuring things and preparing for the trip. During our visit to Costco, the whole sale store, we bought a box of ‘Trail mix’ bars - a mixture of dry fruits, grains and nuts. This had been tasted and approved by my wife, Latha, as ‘edible’ and was included in the list of food stuff to be carried. Eventually she took to it so much that she carried a box of the bars to India on our return. I prepared my own mix using nuts and dry fruits which turned out to be even more popular.
We were scheduled to leave Canton MI on the evening of 23rd June, stopover for the night at a place called Dubois and continue to New jersey the next day. Latha was busy the whole morning, preparing her ‘survival kit’ which contained a sort of Onion curry which ( ‘gojju’ in kannada) could be consumed with Rotis or with cooked rice and which does not need refrigeration. This was to be the backbone of her food kit for the next week. Bhanu had ordered a few dozen rotis which were expected to arrive by evening. Apart from this, Latha prepared a dry mixture of roasted semolina, spices, curry leaves and few other ingredients which I do not know. It produced a filling snack (uppittu) on mixing with water and cooking in a microwave oven, in minutes. Vishwa had ensured that all the hotel rooms that he had booked, contained an attached kitchenette with a fridge and microwave oven. Latha also packed the rice cooker, rice and two tubs of ‘DANNON’ yoghurt (Natural – plain - gelatin free – fat free - almost same as the ‘curd’ we are used to) and was more or less sure that she would return alive after the trip.
Bhanu and Vishwa had to attend the office, come home and pack for the trip. We were ready by the time they arrived from work and I used the available time to clear the minivan of empty water and juice bottles, empty chip pouches, pizza boxes, Dharini’s soccer gloves and socks, Dhruva’s school shoes and base ball, assorted packages of our purchases which had remained in the van, jackets which had been used during the Niagara trip etc etc. We loaded the van with our luggage, found (surprise) that it could still accommodate all of us, got in and were off, only to return once to fetch Dharini’s mobile phone and again to search and collect the charger for the GPS. In spite of all these we were on the freeway by 5PM, only an hour behind schedule.