Stamford to Alpharetta - Wherever Life Takes

Stamford
Stamford, a place, where I lived for the longest in a stretch. My rented apartment in Stamford, CT, till date, is the place, where I lived most of my post college life, almost 3 Years.  18th July 2013 to 27th May 2016. The next best is another rented apartment in Noida, Sector 62. Thou we are modern day nomads, still we get attached with the places. So leaving Stamford, that apartment, that place, was tough.

It would have been easier, if Stamford does not have the flavors of small towns and facilities of the big cities. It would have been easier, if my wife and I, have not liked the nearby chirpy downtown and the tranquil neighborhood. It would have been much easier, if we would not have made some great friends. And of course, the stability for 3 years. Stamford was unlike boring Norwalk, a place separated from Stamford by 10-12 miles, and our abode for around an year earlier. Leaving Norwalk never made us emotional. May be we were shifting back to India then.

Special mention is required for the management of our apartment in Stamford. Ab and Abdu. I had to leave for a new project, identified for me in the laid back city of Alpharetta. During last days of our stay in Stamford, we had to continue our stay week by week, due to some lazy office staffs and lazier homeland security officers,  some mandatory paper works were going on, before I could change the workplace. Forget about USA, no other place in the world, except hotels, would have allowed us to live week by week. Had not been these two gentlemen, our exit to the place would have been unceremoniously done or had to stay our last few weeks in any hotel. The ordinary apartment, in those last days of stay, left an lasting emotional impression on us. The duo made us feel home away from home. 

Our apartment in Stamford was near downtown. A lot of hangout places were nearby. Our apartment was smaller, cozier but fully furnished, normally small families and people for short stays preferred that apartment. It was easier to leave the place, because all we had to carry were just our personal stuffs. We could have used movers to send stuffs and take a flight to Atlanta and then take rental car to Alpharetta. Other option was take a road trip, since we had plenty of time, before the paper work started, and also there was a long weekend. The memorial day. We chose the second option.



We have been living with packed bags, since last several years. It sounds exciting, but trust me, it is tough. Every transfer drains you emotionally. You stock a huge pile of emotional attachments, which you build over a period, stuffs out of junks, like Starbucks coffee bottles, stuffs out of memoirs like souvenir sleepers, stuffs due to shopping sprees like lot of shoes and sandals, old clothes. You need to trash a lot of such stuffs,  which could not make itself to the priority list.

After getting lighter, we were left with 5 big bags and equal number of small bags, accompanied by  TV, Printer, Paintings and, despite we donated a lot of them, hell lot of footwears. A truck was needed. Thanks to my packing skills, acquired due to several moves,  and my recently upgraded JEEP , from Liberty to Grand Cherokee, we were good enough to handle what ever we had to carry. The second row and trunk were full. It was going to be hell of a ride. If I missed the quick acceleration of Liberty sport, Grand Cherokee compensated with its class, comfort and capacity.

  
The Plan
Memorial Day Weekend, over the last couple of years, used to be the first weekend of the calendar year, when we religiously go out for a road trip, mostly to beaches, thou the weather remains cold. This memorial day weekend was going to be memorable. Since we lived in Stamford for such a long time, not only Stamford, we had a lot of friends nearby too. one of such friends used to stay in Exton town, Pennsylvania. Knowing that we would leave this place, he insisted us to visit one last time before leaving. His place in Exton has been the witness of a lot of get togethers of our college friends, The  great BITians.  Since,  I was not able to visit his place, before leaving, so I planned to make up, and to have one last get together, until we meet again.

The plan was, Day 1, Saturday May 27th, leave Stamford by late afternoon and reach Exton by late evening and stay overnight. Day 2, Sunday May 28th, leave Exton and stay somewhere in North Carolina, after crossing Charlotte. Day 3, Monday may 29th, the Memorial Day, reach Alpharetta, where the company has already booked Extended Stay, a hotel, which we were gong to stay nth time in our lives.

Day 1
Thou we have to just shift with our bags, thou most of the items were already packed, adjusting them in car was a task. We had lunch in our lately became favorite place, Ocha Thai, a neighborhood restaurant, which we neglected earlier, because it was in our neighborhood. Had our favorite Tom Yum Soup and Mint Fried Rice. The owners of the restaurant are very friendly to the customer. On knowing, it was our last day in Stamford, and they are definitely going to miss two regular customers, they expressed their emotions. We paid the bills, are up all the litchis and pineapple pieces, they serve with the receipts. Something else too happened there, which you'll know later in the story. We could not leave until evening, around 6 PM. 

Over a period of time and numerous drive through the New York City, we have discovered a unique route, less crowded, easy and quickest. To cross NYC, out of several routes, there are two major bridges over the river Hudson, the I95 route through famous George Washington Bridge or route through 287, newly built Tappan Zee Bridge. We use a combo plan, we take 287 towards Tappan Zee, but break in between to take back 87 and 9A to reach just beneath the GW, this saves time, traffic and distance. The GW bridge is never jammed, it's the path leading to the bridge, which is full. But we had a crack. Within an hour, we were on high-speed Garden State Parkway.

It took 2 and half hours, before we reached Exton town. Prashant and Tanya were waiting for us, with of course some delicious food. We had chit-chat, dinner and catchups, before going to bed, almost on time, considering the nights of get together we had at that place. Next morning was going to be a long day on the roads, we needed a sound sleep.
That day, we entered or exited four states, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
CT->NY->NJ->PA

Day2
Prashant and Tanya are great hosts. Morning tea normally Prashant prepares. Before we woke up, he was already there in kitchen. His perfect tea was as refreshing as the morning. Morning was great, fresh and bright one. It was a long weekend, but our hosts had no plans to go out, so we were relaxed. We got ready, had breakfast, when Prashant asked about the hotel, we were supposed to do night halt at. My plan was to cover as much and then book the nearest possible motel on the verge of the nightfall.

Prashant suggested otherwise. His suggestion was a boon, because one, we got a deal and two I discovered my only credit card at that point of time was not there. I realized, I may have dropped it while returning back from Ocha Thai after lunch. New place, no friends, no credit card, was going to be a tough one. Anyway, I switched back to old way, debit card, and searched for a hotel. Just after Charlotte, Gastonia was the place, we got a hotel beside I74 and I85 on 321, we got a hotel. I booked the hotel, using Debit card. All set to leave.

Around 11 AM, we left the Exton town, It was not a good bye, but just a break from the region. The GPS showed 9 hours of journey was ahead. We went through empty roads, most of the traffic was on the other side. Once pressed the gas pedal, I took it off, only when we stopped at a gas station to fill it up. Burger King is one of the few chains, which serves Veg Burgers. Burgers and fries, we had for lunch. It was again the time to press the gas pedal. Around 8 hours, just one break, we reached Gastonia. Hotel was little away from road, secluded. Unlike meek entry, it's parking lot was humongous. We checked in. The rooms had very basic amenities, still good enough to spend one night. We reached just before nightfall, around 7 PM, were too hungry. North eastern part, we never felt unsafe, but Gastonia did not have us good vibes. May be seclusion of the hotel was one of the reasons. 

I went outside, bought some coffee and food. I parked my fully packed car, just outside the hotel window, so that we can have an eye on the car, from our room, a typical Indian inside, forced me to do so. Hotel lacked basic facilities, however a soda and water dispenser was functional. Had food, and tried to get some sleep. Thou, I did not slept too well, again an Indian inside me, kept me awake.

That day we drove through the states Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
PA->MD->WV->VA->NC

Day 3
It was morning, again a fresh and bright one. I went out and brought some coffee. we got ready and checked out by 10 AM. Followed the GPS. The roads were scenic in most of the North Carolina, beautiful, long straight stretches when we approached Georgia. A new city and a new life was awaiting in a new city. The uncertainty was awaiting there. 

As soon as we entered Alpharetta, we drove directly to the restaurant named Chettinad. It is one of the famous Indian restaurant of Alpharetta. As most of the famous restaurants has, this too had waiting time of at least half-an-hour. Hunger was making us impatient, we drove to another Indian restaurant, Bawarchi. Had food, mango lassi, relaxed, admired the modern Indian restaurant and the hospitality. Between 3 to 3:30, we reached our hotel, which was going to be our place for next 10-15 days, or until we get an apartment.

On third day we exited NC crossed SC and entered GA. Overall in this trip, we drove through 10 states, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, was a wonderful, peaceful and memorable drive. All along, with my life partner, we entered, yet another place, to make yet another home.



Alpharetta
This is the place we lived the shortest. Shorter than our stays in Extended Stay America. Just 2.5 months (82 days to be precise). When we entered this quite city, it attracted us, didn't expected it to be this beautiful. Our house hunt tours, excellent luxurious apartments, at almost half the rent, of what we had in Connecticut, plenty of spaces, abundance of parking, lesser people, Alpharetta had its own uniqueness. We made another home, very little friends. The emotional attachment of Connecticut often reminded us not to get attach to Alpharetta, yet when we left Alpharetta, we were equally emotional. The journey from Alpharetta to back to North East, is another long story, which deserve separate space.

Life took us wherever, we went with the flow. The philosophy of life changed. The places, we thought, we own, turned out, we were owned by them. We went to Alpharetta, knowing it will be a short stay, yet we got attached. May be deep down, we wanted to stop wandering, stop chasing things. The rootless wanderers wanted to get strapped, wanted to halt forever.

One thing, we learnt during this journey, the necessity to detach.

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