Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pittsburgh and Back home

There were no plans for the morning of 27th June except for driving around Washington DC for an hour, looking at things ( from inside the car) which we could not visit - like the Washington monument , Lincoln memorial , Arlington war memorial and so on before proceeding to Pittsburgh.
We drove in front of the Washington Monument, Lincoln memorial and another building which I do not recognize now and then we were supposed to cross the Potomac river and go over to Arlington.

At that point Vishwa took one wrong turn somewhere and his GPS, which had grudgingly borne his abuses (he repeatedly shouted at it to shut up – when he knew his route) and was waiting for a chance for revenge, took the opportunity to confuse him further. It guided him into a dead end and instructed him to turn left and drive into the river. Luckily for us, he decided to dump it and switch over to his map and two hours later we emerged from the maze of unknown streets and were on the freeway (I 68, if I remember right) leaving Washington DC about thirty miles behind us and heading towards Pittsburgh.
We had lost quite a lot of time and patience and almost all of us were hungry and irritable. Luckily we had packed rice, yoghurt and pickles and had picked up some sandwiches from a Subway outlet sometime during the aimless drive, out of which we lunched at the next rest area and it helped in reducing the hunger and irritability in the group. By evening we reached Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh had been included in the tour for two reasons. Practical and Spiritual. It is almost midpoint between Washington DC and Canton MI and has a good Indian restaurant called Udipi café and so, is convenient for a stopover. It has the famous Balaji temple which is expected to attend to the Spiritual needs, but because of its even more famous canteen, it ends up serving the gastronomical needs (better than the Udipi Café) rather than spiritual. The Pongal, Puliyogare and Curds rice, served and sold as ‘Prasadam’ have a greater pull than Lord Balaji.

We checked into the Comfort Suites, Pittsburg , went over to Udupi café for dinner and then called it a day.

I went out for a walk as usual the next morning. I walked along the road in front of the hotel for about two kilometers. There were some intersections on the way and I had to use the button for "walk signal" to cross the road. It felt nice to press the button and see the zooming flow of cars stop respectfully at a distance, providing me a clear passage to cross over.

I got carried away with the power to stop traffic and crossed the road whenever I found a pole with the button, even if there was no need. I returned after walking for an hour (and probably the Pittsburgh motorists heaved a sigh of relief) and just as I reached the hotel, was tempted to stop the traffic one last time to go to the other side of the road, and come back. It was right in front of the hotel. I crossed the road and when I wanted to get back, found that the pole on the other side had no button but only a large hole in its place. I was stuck on the other side of the road with no chance of crossing back. I had to walk more than a kilometer on that side of the road to find a pole with the button and cross back. Served me right for being a nuisance to Pittsburg traffic.

Since it was the last day of the trip and there was nothing to do except visiting the temple (and collecting enough Pongal and Puliyogare to last for two days) and so, the rest of the party took it easy. We reached the temple around eleven in the morning,

We obtained the blessings of Lord Balaji, filled our stomachs and all other available containers with ‘Prasadam’ and were on our way home by one in the afternoon. We drove back leisurely stopping here and there on the way and reached Canton Mi in the evening, bringing to end a much anticipated trip.

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