Finally Praveen was free and we were able to go to Philly to check out some of the museums. However the sad part was that the museum we chose to see was closed for New Year’s Eve. Though there was no snow, the weather was very bad. It was freezing cold outside and the wind made it worse. The Liberty Bell museum, that was nearby was open, so we went to check it out. Finally we got to see the world famous Liberty Bell. It was smaller than I imagined it to be, but it was good to see a part of history. Its amazing that its been around since 1752. Later we drove to the art museum, but unfortunately it was their closing time. So we spent some time in the lobby and started back home. Ruchi loved the art museum lobby, she had a great time running around. The drive back was better than the drive towards the city. On our way to the city, the heavy winds had knocked down some trees that fell on the highway. So the traffic was almost at a standstill while the troopers cleared the roads.
Geeta is a friend of ours from our engineering college days. A few years ago she moved to the Philly area and has been living there ever since. Its been nearly three years since we last met her. Today she invited us over for dinner. Ruchi, who did not take her afternoon nap, fell asleep on the way to their house. So, when she woke up, she was very clingy for the first half an hour. Geeta had The Lion King DVD in her house. Ruchi was back to her usual self, as soon as the movie started playing. Dinner was very good, especially the appetizers. Geeta decided to make us Thai food, and I loved the basil leaf wraps she made for appetizers. As for Ruchi, she was so excited to be in a big spacious house, that she was running from one end to the other. It was great to catch up with an old friend.
After spending so much time with grown-ups, Ruchi was very happy when Sailakka’s relatives arrived. They have a daughter who was almost the same age as Ruchi. Ruchi was so excited to see her, but poor Suhani who was very tired from the drive was very cranky. It took her a while to get settled. Ruchi was more than happy to share her toys and books with her. By evening they were comfortable with each other. I am glad Ruchi has someone to play with for a couple of days.
Though it took her a while to get to a comfortable level with everyone in the house, Ruchi was very excited to be at Rajesh Anna’s house. By late morning she was playing with everyone. She was fascinated by how little Siddhu was. She loved running around the house, especially climbing the stairs. We had to keep a very close watch, because the stairs were steep.
Ever since we landed we were so busy visiting everyone else, that we did not get a chance to spend some quality time with Bharathi and Giri. So today we decided to spend the morning at their place, playing with Kavya. She is such a darling. After lunch we stopped at Aparna’s place to see the kids. Esha was all grown up and walking and Neeraj had started talking. Aparna was suffering from an infection, so we could not stay for long. At around four, we picked up Chinnari and her friend and started out to Exton. The roads were a little slow, but not too bad. Ruchi slept for most of the drive, which was a huge blessing. When we arrived, everyone was waiting for us. Finally we got to meet Siddhu. He was so cute. He had put on some weight and looked very adorable. After dinner, Sailakka told us that it was her mom’s birthday. So we waited up till midnight. Aunty cut the birthday cake at 12. It was a yummy cake. Though it was past her bedtime, it did not stop Ruchi from enjoying a bite of the cake.
Before attending Usha’s Christmas Party, we made a quick stop at our house to meet our new tenants. Stepping into our house again was bittersweet for us. On one hand it was nice to see our house again and on the other hand it felt strange knowing someone else was living in our house. Our tenants seem like very nice people. I am glad we made the trip. It helped me get over my nostalgia. I don’t think I miss the house anymore (like I used to, when I first moved to Seattle). Maybe I am finally getting comfortable with our house in Seattle. Ever since we bought our tickets to DC, we have been looking forward to watching Ruchi’s reaction when we step into our house again. Unfortunately we were never meant to witness that incident, because Ruchi slept the entire time we were in the house.
Usha’s Christmas party was great. It was wonderful meeting all our new friends again. Charu is quite grown up from the last time we saw her. She was her usual self, very cute and very active. Kitty wasn’t feeling too well. She was her usual self too, but a little mellowed down, due to her cold. Anita was still in India, so we could not see Rushil, but we got a chance to meet Chaitanya. Ruchi was shy throughout the party, but she managed to enjoy herself. She loved the Dr. Seuss book that Usha bought for her. It was really wonderful meeting all of them.
We spent the Christmas morning at Bharathi’s place. Ruchi had a great time playing on their swing in the backyard. We got to spend some time with their daughter Kavya. Kavya has grown so much, since the last time we saw her. She is such a cute little happy baby. She is a perfect combination of Bharathi and Giri. Ruchi was so fascinated by her. At noon, we stopped at Shruthi’s place to see Nidhi, before going to lunch with Chinnari. Nidhi was very shy. Looks like she forgot Ruchi. We had lunch at Minerva and it was great. Though Ruchi initially had a hard time recollecting who Chinnari was, by the time we were done with lunch, she had become very comfortable with her. We spent the rest of the afternoon with Sher and Vipula, catching up on all that we missed. It was really very good seeing all of them. Ruchi loved the alphabet blocks that her Sher Mama bought for her and the curious George bathtub toy, her Chinnari atta gave her.
The weather has been so bad this past week that we were not sure if we would be able to make it to Virginia for the holidays. Thankfully the weather was a little better this morning, but the roads were still treacherous. Srini braved the roads and the weather to pick us up and drop us off at the airport. Since many of the flights had been canceled yesterday, there were many stranded passengers in the airport. Luckily for us, our flight was scheduled to depart in the few hours that the weather had cleared up. Our flight took off on time and we made it to Washington DC without any trouble. Thankfully even Ruchi did not seem to mind the long flight. She slept most of the time, and when she was not sleeping, she was content listening to us reading her books. When we reached Bharathi’s place, Giri and Bharathi were waiting for us. Since it was too late we had dinner and went straight to bed.
One of the things that Ruchi loves to do when asked is imitate the sounds of some of her favorite animals. She never seems to be tired of saying them. I have been trying to record her in action for the past one month, with no luck. She usually freezes when she sees the camera. Luckily she was in a very good mood today and did not mind showing of her talent on camera. It is so adorable the way she makes those sounds, especially when she tries to imitate a monkey or a sheep.
When we woke up this morning, there was not much change in the weather. It was still snowing. Since the roads were not cleared, Praveen had to work from home again. By noon, it had stopped snowing, and the snow plow had cleared the main streets. Since it was so beautiful outside, Praveen suggested we go for a walk. We never experienced such a heavy snowfall before, not even in Utah. So after Praveen cleared the snow from our steps, we got dressed and walked on the streets of our community. It was so beautiful outside (not very cold). The snow was still fresh and soft. On our way back, we stopped at a park and Ruchi had a good time walking in the snow. We also threw snowballs at each other. I am so glad Ruchi got to experience such a wonderful snowfall. Now she knows what snow is, and she loves it very much.