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Spending the Summer Relaxing and Celebrating America SUBDUED SUMMER PLANS
There was a common thread binding me and so many others on a ceremonious day decades ago: We all became U.S. citizens. Over 50 countries were represented at this event, and the entire ceremony was broadcast across different TV and radio stations. It’s truly a day I will never forget. The first thing Chandana and I did when we became citizens was apply for U.S. passports. We knew we would want to visit India and take our kids there someday, and having a passport gave us that freedom. Nearly every year since then, we have been able to return. Each trip is always a whirlwind: We travel to various regions, introduce family to our children, reminisce with loved ones, and reconnect our children, who were born in the U.S., with their roots. It’s pretty amazing for our kids to experience where their mom and dad grew up. Unfortunately, it has felt more cumbersome to return to India as of late. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m getting older and travel is more difficult, but each year we travel back has been more difficult than the last. For starters, the country is warmer than it used to be, and it seems like every summer, it gets hotter and hotter. The Category 5 hurricane that hit India this May also sent shockwaves through our home country. Luckily, our loved ones only sustained minor damage to their homes and trees, but I cannot imagine the kind
of destruction, much less the kind of heat, the country has to contend with now that much of nature has been uprooted.
We are sad to say that we will not return to India for a visit this year. My children are disappointed by this news, but our travels will be much tamer and quieter than in years past. There is an abundance of local places we would love to travel to, and thankfully, Illinois doesn’t seem to get quite as hot as India does. This year, we are excited to explore more pieces of the country that has been our home for decades now. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our Fourth of July plans and traditions. Every year, we have friends come over, and depending on the weather, we also enjoy the classic American tradition of taking in fireworks. We actually keep fireworks in our home year-round and light them off when friends and neighbors stop by. My daughter Mitali loves fireworks, which is ironic given that she used to cling to Chandana with fear. By the time she was 4 years old, that fear subsided, and now she is very excited about fireworks. There’s nothing quite like the boom and spectacle of a fireworks show, and it certainly makes for a fun summer afternoon. And we don’t even have to travel overseas for this kind of excitement.
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