Palms Springs is hot, really hot. The temperatures here can soar up to 45 degrees any day. Even then it is a happening holiday destination popular for its golf courses and Palm trees, off-course.
Sunny Monday Morning, around 8 am Harry got into his car to drive off to San Francisco. His week-long trip had come to an end as he was all set to go back to Delhi, his home in India. The drive back to San Francisco was a long and tiring one, more so because of the scorching weather conditions. But, nevertheless the scenic desert-scape and panoramic view of the sun-kissed beaches along the way made up for these climatic glitches.
Harry wasn’t at ease though. Even when the climate within the car was cool, all thanks to whoever invented the Air conditioning systems, his mind was stuck at something. Probably he was thinking about this meeting with his best friend Sheryl in Palm Springs when there.
He had been a regular visitor at palm-springs but this trip turned out to be the most special one. Harry had bumped into Sheryl at the Palm Canyon drive just a day before. For a moment he thought that the world was such a small place. Obviously, because he had met Sheryl after 25 long years and how?
Well, talking of Canyon Drive, this is one swagger of a place at the foothills of the majestic Mount San Jacinto. Lightly shaded by the Palm trees, anyone visiting this place for the first time is sure to fall in love with the mid-century modern architecture, the vintage line up of shops and the gourmet restaurants around. Spending a day here can be nothing less than a breeze. You can just watch the world go by sitting here and sipping on your chilled beverage or beer. Such is the penchant of this place. Meeting Sheryl at the heart of Canyon Drive, out of the blue, after 25 long years was already overwhelming. They both sat down at this quaint little café tucked in the corner by the stairway for a cup of cold coffee, while still awestruck about pleasantly surprising coincidence that they just encountered. After a moment of gathering themselves and coming to terms with the reality, they both sunk into a long chat around their lives and stories.
Sometime into the conversation, Sheryl pointed Harry towards her son Soham. The kid was playing on the stairway, but nothing about him seemed to be normal. He was moving around, drooling, shouting and behaving in an unnatural way. Harry was taken aback a bit as it was his first encounter with a special child after a long time. The next three hours at the cafe went only about understanding how Sheryl managed to survive in a country like the United States and managed to give the best support to Soham. It did seem that the journey of 23 years in the USA had been a long and arduous one for Sheryl. They spoke at length about the umpteen personal issues that Sheryl and her husband had to go through while raising Soham. Sheryl shared her times of conflict, hardships, and disdain around raising and schooling of Soham in the USA as well as her husband’s struggle with depression and more. Before they called it a day, Harry looked into the eyes of Sheryl and asked her “Do you feel happy”. Sheryl replied, “I feel Blessed”.
These three words of Sheryl is what kept haunting Harry throughout his 8-hour long drive from Palm Springs to San Francisco that morning. Two distinct feelings that filled Harry’s heart with a mixed bag of emotions included his interaction with the special child of Sheryl besides the Euphoria of meeting his best buddy after more than two decades.
As he strolled down the memory lane, to his days in Delhi at the Airforce School, one name that flashed time and again in front of him, was that of Rohan, a special child and his peer at the Airforce School then. Harry had witnessed the journey of Rohan while at schools and been an integral part of his life as a classmate. After interacting with Soham and Sheryl, Harry kept on wondering and pondering upon a thought that if a school in India so many years back could handle a special child as Rohan so well, why was it a problem for the schools in a developed country like the USA.
He became restless and wanted to read more about children with special needs. After another hour or so, he reached the SFO airport and checked in. After completing the formalities he headed straight to the airport lounge bookstore to get his hands on a book or two on the subject. He did find a few, but most of them were celebrity talks. He was looking for something authentic and enlightening. So, Harry just sat down at the lounge munching a sandwich while he logged on to Amazon. After a few minutes of surfing around, he found what he wanted and ordered those books right away.
Coming up Soon…… Keep watching this space for more on this exhilarating journey!