Day 365: The middle of the universe is here.

Day 365 began in beautiful gap year style. I woke up late to lazy meditation and leisurely yoga before meeting Allie Pace, my Peer Advising Fellow, for lunch and coffee at the quaint Café Pamplona.

This was the perfect way to start my last gap day. Allie was eager and excited to hear stories about my year in detail, and made me go back and appreciate, once again, the incredible experiences I've been blessed enough to enjoy this year, from Brasil to Bogotá to Bombay to Boston. She certainly invited me to think about every aspect of my life as a student and a person, and we enthusiastically celebrated the beauty that is life and love and learning.

A comment Allie made about only having two years left here at Harvard reminded me immediately of Marina Keegan's "Bygones," which I read to Allie at the table, leaving her, as it should have, speechless. My goal was to have memorized the poem by now, but I'm a bit behind. However, as "Bygones" has been one of the most influential and inspiring pieces of writing for me, I decided to do a reading for you all today as I did from Rostand's Cyrano on Day 1.

The video is a bit unsynced, so I may suggest just listening.

After my meeting with Allie, I headed to the Science Center for a series of presentations called "How to Harvard." The first of these was to instruct us on how to sign up for classes, and the second was on study tips and best reading practices. The latter was a welcome reminder of how slowly I read (and how short my attention span has become). Javier and I bemoaned our skimming abilities together before going to the Coop, which hosts a delicious array of Harvard gear. We spent nearly an hour looking for an academic planner for Javier, and a notebook that would "feel like success" when he held it in his hands. I was not nearly so ambitious, but did manage to pick up a small treat for myself.

It was back to the dorm after this to start this post before dinner with my very own Anne Marie! I'm so happy to know so many fabulous upperclassmen here, and it was lovely to scarf down salads at Oggi as we caught up on all the summer's Latin drama. Breathless after gossiping endlessly, I returned to my room to meditate before going out again.

I'm now on my way to an outdoor screening of Legally Blonde, a meeting with my proctor, and the First Chance Dance, to which I am proud to be escorting my bro Tina Qian. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Day 364: I don't like your silence.

My morning walk to Annenberg is not unlike those of my majestic mornings in Bogotá. I made the walk today to have breakfast with Kirin Gupta, a fellow member of the Class of 2016 who took a gap year also. Apart from our superficial similarities (Indian girls, drastic haircut-getters, Ingrid Michaelson fans, gap year-takers, Spanish enthusiasts), it was great to finally meet this chica and learn that like me, she's craaazy. We had a high energy breakfast full of laughs before I dragged her to a session called "Understanding Your Math Placement Score."

Although I still do not understand my math placement score, two wonderful things came out of attending this session.

First, I bumped into Javier Aranzales, Bogotá boy and ballet dancer with whom I'd exchanged some salsa obsession messages via Facebook earlier in the year.

Second, the three of us received news of our Freshman Seminar applications, and each was accepted into his/her top choice! I'l be taking Public Policy Approaches to Global Climate Change, a fact about which I couldn't be more excited.

After this looovely reunion, I gave my girl Laura a call en route to a morning meeting with my Academic Advisor. This was super fun and probably the best part of my day as I got to drool over courses that I'll be checking out during Shopping Week and gush about them to Elaine. My interests are all over the place, so in addition to the obvious Classics and Environmental Science classes, I'll be attending "sample" classes in Sociology, English, Economics, Philosophy, Portuguese, and the like.

After all this geeking out, it was time to fill in Varlet #1 on my time in college thus far. Nizar and I chatted via Skype, meaning that I gave myself a haphazard manicure while trying to recreate for him the magnificent lecture I heard on Tuesday. Soon, it was time to head to lunch (calling Mama and Nani on the way) and more devouring of the course catalogue.

After two plates filled entirely with vegetables, I stopped back at Greenough for a brainstorming sesh with the roomie about what she should take this semester. Running commenced again, as I flitted between Divisional Academic Fairs, visiting the buildings for Math, Engineering, and the Sciences to learn about the Environmental Science and Public Policy major, for Arts and Humanities to "socialize" with some Classics students, and for Social Sciences to find out what the heck Sociology is.

Soon, it was back to the room for more research before a very well done performance called "Sex Signals" delivered to educate freshmen about gender stereotypes and sexual abuse. The actors were absolutely terrific, and had Eliza and me laughing like never before.

Still in splits, we headed back to our dorm for a major heart-to-heart about high school and the transition to college life. We have the most interesting things coincidentally in common! (Not to mention that we inadvertently donned matching clothing today.) Time for some more roomie love and Skype with the sis!

Day 363: "Please do."

This morning began with Community Conversations, a facilitated conversation between members of our entryway about diversity of race, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, etc. It was stunning to see the remarkable richness of culture among members of our entryway alone! This was a great way to learn a bit more about our Greenough peers in a really open environment.

 From here, Marcy, Alex, and I headed to a meeting with our academic advisor, Elaine Strunk. Elaine is the Manager for Sustainability Engagement in the Office of Sustainability here at Harvard. This informal lunch in the grass was a great way to learn more about Marcy and Alex and their interests, as well as get to meet Elaine. A funny moment came after our meal when a dining hall worker lectured the four of us on how to properly separate our waste materials from lunch before throwing it out. Preaching to the choir, bro.

Next, I attended a lecture called "What Darwin Didn't Know" given by Professor Hopi Hoestra of the departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular & Cellular Biology. Though I probably didn't understand half of the talk, I was happy to have the chance to learn something beyond the realms of my intellectual specialty. I made a quick call to Laurita on my way back to Greenough, where I met Helen, my proctor, who then accompanied me to the Bureau of Study Counsel. This group  guides students with reading and study tips, and was having an open house today. Another group having an open house was the Wellness Center, where Helen and I gladly went for free 10-minute massages. This was NICE.

Since then, I've been meditating, resting, and catching up on housekeeping items. The rest of the evening holds dinner, another entryway meeting, and perhaps a salsa lesson with the Ballroom Dance Team!

Day 362: "No machine can take you into the mansion of happiness."

Days here are becoming so packed that I have to take notes during the day to remember everything in the evening!

I had breakfast with a very special friend this morning -- Priya Gill! We wanted to say one last goodbye, and to discuss our concerns and quandaries as we both embark on hugely new phases of our lives. We also read a bit of Latin together so that Priya could go home and say, "I studied Latin at Harvard."

Farewells aside, I made my way to our "first official welcome to Harvard" from Dean Shapiro, our Resident Dean. Directly afterwards, Eliza, Dipti, and I attended a brief presentation called "Student Computing @ Harvard" -- while figuring out the college's technology, I also completed my remaining Freshman Seminar applications from my cell phone to make the deadline at noon -- phew!

We then headed over to check our campus mailboxes. Send me love!

1500 Harvard Yard Mail Center
Cambridge, MA 02138

We enjoyed our first lunch at Annenburg Hall and then walked through the Farmers' Market at Harvard, having a look around and sampling some spicy chocolate. From there, it was on to a talk entitled "A Harvard Education" -- this reaffirmed the value of a broad liberal arts education and, while I didn't need to hear it reaffirmed, it reminded me again why I'm so happy to be here. The college requires that we take classes across a broad range of subjects in order to better understand and contribute to the world around us. This philosophy is music to the ears of this hopeful Classics and Environmental Science and Public Policy major who wants nothing more than to take every class offered and learn everything there is to know. One speaker put it well when she said, to my amusement and bemusement, "The course offerings here are an intellectual cornucopia of delights!"

From this talk, I headed not to the gym as priorly planned but to the Medical Services center, where, after an hour and a visit to each of its four floors at least once, I had successfully (and painfully) received the one vaccination standing in the way of my registration with the college. 

I touched briefly back down at Greenough before attending a lecture by Jill Lepore entitled "The Meaning of Life." Suffice it to say that the first Harvard lecture I attended made me cry. Through her at first jocular but throughout brilliant analysis of the board game "Life," Professor Lepore gave us something to think about as we define our lives at Harvard. My tears at the end came perhaps due to the  similarities in message of the lecture and Marina Keegan's poem Bygones, my favorite work.

Mind blown by this lecture, I caught up with PSang before heading to dinner with Jude. Over our spinach and sweet potatoes, we discussed various Latin and Greek authors and some of the Classics course offerings here over which we're currently drooling. I made my way over to our second entryway meeting next, during which we played another mingling game and acted out common roomie strife scenarios. We trickled from here into an ice cream social for Greenough residents, where I got to talk to Kevin, a neighbor and German and theater enthusiast! We talked about parallels between Shakespearean English as compared to Latin and as compared to German, and he encouraged me to come out for theater auditions -- I just might have to!

I'm back in my dorm now to meet my 12 o'clock Cinderella blog curfew and avoid being turned into a pumpkin!

Day 361: I will take the chain from off the door.

I'm already beginning to wade in late-night (academic) housekeeping tasks, but I'd like to give you all a run-through of my first official day of orientation! We rolled out of bed and down the street from our hotel this morning to Greenough Hall, to get me settled into my dormitory once and for all.

We made a super-efficient team, with Priya hanging up my clothes and lugging things upstairs as Papa fetched breakfast and opened boxes while Mama and Nani made my bed and everything around it and I just admired everything.

For the person who did the least amount of physical labor, I sure seemed the most wiped out at the end of our morning moving sesh, and I arrived at the ID Services office looking less than optimal for my Harvard ID photo. The photographer seemed to sense this, as he commented on how nervous I looked, and went on to try to soothe my nerves. Seeing the ID printed was a joy however, and I almost squealed with delight when he handed it to me. I am officially a college student.

At lunchtime, we made the very important discovery that Cambridge has a BonChon! We enjoyed our double-fried Korean barbecue before rushing to a welcome event at Sanders Theatre. This presentation was a welcome to our parents on behalf of the University, and Priya and I perhaps should not have been in attendance. In any case, we rushed from this event back to Target to pick up a few last dorm items before making one trip back to Greenough to put everything in its place.

From here, the family rushed to get me dinner at Panera before my first entryway meeting at 8. I am so happy to have shared this experience with them all, but especially to have had Nani's company and guidance during the run-up to college -- she came all the way from India to drop me off!

Tired and teary, I met with fellow Greenough residents out front for our first icebreaker-and-updates orientation meeting of the week. We received lots of important and breathtakingly exciting notices during this two-hour stretch, and returned to the dorm for an unofficial meeting of our hall. Eliza's out tonight, and I eager to finish these last Freshman Seminar applications -- wish me luck!

Day 360: I'm trying to get a hold on this.

Nani, Priya, and I had a "hearty laugh" over our sleeping arrangements yesterday, with all 5 feet and 8 inches of Priya crammed onto a tiny armchair for the night. This accommodation naturally didn't make for the most commodious night, and we all remained in varying states of asleep-ness until around noon today.

At this time, we headed to Boston Harbor to eat lunch at Wagamama and ogle at sky writers adorning the heavens with ribbons of Red Sox pride. Then it was quickly onward to Target for a stop to collect last-minute items like notebooks, hangers, and a mini fridge (everything purchased happened to be turquoise).

In the afternoon, we stopped by Greenough, my dorm, again, and I got to meet my roommate for the year! Eliza and I had talked online, but it was wonderful to make her acquaintance in person . . . and to see our lovely room! The whole Gill squad joined in and we spent the better part of an hour rearranging furniture until we had turned our two individual rooms into one big bedroom / "socializing" room and one cozy study.

We left Greenough tired out and sweating, and returned to our hotel to freshen up, and for me to start this post. We're now on our way out for dinner in Harvard Square!

Day 359: I took a faithful leap and packed up all my things and all mylove.

We got up at 7:30 this morning, a bit late to meet our hoped departure time of 7:00. After packing, a cake, a prayer, and turning back two times, we were finally off for Cambridge around 10.

I listened to music on Priya's amazing headphones in the car along the way, as Nani fed me bowl after bowl of the biryani she had prepared just for me. We stopped briefly in Annapolis to get a photograph of Mama and me at a marina where we were photographed together 15 years ago.

I tried to get sleep at one point, and was fairly successful, but woke speaking a crude Punjabi line from "Angreji Beat."

It didn't seem like long before we were approaching Cambridge, my home for the next four years. We all gaped like children at the buildings and the river and the shops, before locating Greenough Hall and taking a peek (move-in is on Monday). We wove through the campus a bit longer before making our way to our hotel.

We had plans to go out for dinner but scrapped them in light of the fatigue we've accumulated today. We also accumulated photos and memories, and hope to gather many more tomorrow!

Day 358: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

I woke up this morning probably too late for everything I had to do today.

After breakfast and some further polishing of my Freshman Seminar applications, it dawned on me that out of the myriad times I've been to the doctor this year, not one was an annual exam. We scrambled to make some appointments and set out for first one and then the other, with haphazard packing shoved in between.

This monotony of chaos was broken in the afternoon by a visit by my beautiful sister Iman Karram to say goodbye. Although she only stayed for a few minutes, we both got to spill our thoughts to one another one last time before I set off tomorrow. I'm so thankful she came to visit.

After my second doctor's visit in the afternoon, we bought some locally grown peaches and then Nani helped me dye my hair with henna. As this goop settled on my head and started to dry, I gave Nani her first iPad lesson, setting up her email, iTunes, Facebook, and Skype accounts. I'm looking forward to spreading my addiction to technology!

Since then, it's been ripping clothing off hangers and stifling sniffles. As Iman and I discussed today, "big changes" don't usually hit me until after the fact. But this one is sinking in suddenly -- I'm going to college!


Song of the day:

Day 357: I shall write beautiful poetry about this some day.

Today, Mama and I embarked on an exciting errand -- purchasing my new computing contraption for college. We headed to the bank first, and Mama shared her perspective on a lot of aspects of our lives with me en route. We arrived at the mall after catching up and picked out a perfect MacBook Pro for me. An hour later, we took this and other assorted Apple accessories with us and drove to Fairfax Corner, where I met up with Woojin, Patrick, and Taylor for our Bristow adventure.

During the drive to Jiffy Lube Live, Woojin helped us "study" for the concert we'd be experiencing by playing his "Kelly Clarkson and The Fray Concert Prep" playlist for us in the car. We enjoyed a fancy dinner at Subway where I was nicknamed "The Storm" and we learned of Wooj's Tyler Ward obsession before making our way to JLL. We now sit in the lawn enjoying the air and ambience as we listen to Carolina Liar open for Ms. Clarkson and The Fray!

Day 356: I love the way you say good morning.

I was awoken after a wonderful night of slumber at 10:08 today by my LaurAlarm clock -- my Cornellian sister had much to share about her first day of college classes, and we gushed about all the usual things, including gap year interactions and Marina Keegan.

After a late breakfast, Nani helped me pack, once and for all, my first batch of Harvard apparel, a bag containing woolens galore.

As we set this suitcase aside, I spruced my room up a bit and started a set of applications for some Freshman Seminars that will be offered next year. I first finished my essay for Complexity in Works of Art: Ulysses and Hamlet and then worked on applications for Happiness in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis and Public Policy Approaches to Global Climate Change.

It is remarkable how much my travels during this year helped in writing these last two apps, as I could cite counseling at Sasha Bruce and meditation in Mumbai as two major "experiences" I've had with happiness, and could discuss my work with EPA and TNC in the essay about environmental policy. It's nice to be reminded once again how much I've learned this year.

Next, it was time to organize my shoes for Boston, eat some lunch, write a bit more, work out, meditate, and prepare for some very special dinner guests!

This evening, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Howard and Vanessa Chang to our home for Indian food and farewells. I had a great time hearing travel stories, getting college advice, and making fun of Nizar . . . even though he wasn't there.

Mr. Chang took his Flint Hill responsibilities far too seriously at the dinner table, interrogating Priya about the dress code decisions she plans to make in high school, clearly searching for ways to charge her with a preemptive detention before the school year has even started. The cooking and the company made for a lovely night for all.

I wrap up this reflection as the rest rest. Just two more days until blast-off! So much to do, so little time . . .

Day 355: No me importa.

This morning, we picked up Tia and Puppy Bhua and headed into D.C. On the way there, we taught Tia to introduce herself to someone in Spanish, and spent the rest of the ride listening to how bored she was . . . before we even got there. We parked at the Jefferson Memorial, ran to the restrooms, got Tia a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and took some photos at the Tidal Basin.

We soon cruised over to Rotī and enjoyed lunch at this Mediterranean equivalent of Chipotle before traipsing over to the White House for a photo shoot.

From here, we wound our way to the National Gallery of Art by the most circuitous route possible, soaking in the Washington sights as we did. We soon found ourselves in the East Building, scoffing at most of the modern art. Some pieces, however, appealed to our (admittedly ignorant) fancy.

A photo of a painting of a painting. So meta.

Next, we paid a visit to the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden, loving the weather and Tia's suggestion to dip our feet in the fountain at its middle.

Metal trees are my fave.

Our last stop in the district was Sprinkles, the underrated cupcake shop of Georgetown (their dark chocolate cupcakes are literally to die for, as several members of our party affirmed today). We purchased a dozen, swallowed down a few, and were on our way.

I prepare this post as Tia watches a Barbie movie, her first in a night of many more. To be honest, I'm excited.

Day 354: E se timor t'assale . . .

To say I woke up this morning would be inaccurate. My alarm rang at 6am and I stepped out of bed, after a night of no sleep. Why was I up this early? Because my sister needed someone to walk her to the door of the gym for her preseason practice for volleyball. It was an interesting first experience to stand in a line marked "athletes sign in here," even if it was just for my sis. Once Priya was in the gym, I found a nook to nap in until I got too cold and started working on an application for a freshman seminar called Complexity in Works of Art: Ulysses and Hamlet.

With a bit of this done, I ambled down to the commons and met up with Nizar (sometimes two goodbyes aren't enough) for another valedictory coffee, this time with Zane and Iman.

For the duration of our time together, Iman gushed to me about the amazing time she's just had dancing with the cast of Step Up in Los Angeles, as Zane and Nizar did their best not to zone out. Too soon, it was time to wish my sibs goodbye for real and head home.

Nani had carbohydrate heaven in store for me, a rice dish made with peas and yes, potatoes. After eating too many bowls of this, I checked the results of my college placement exams and started picking out some of my courses. I couldn't help but drool at the options for Latin!

I'm really looking forward to having a schedule again, albeit a lopsided one.

I spent the next few hours trying to get some rest, and finally managed to catch my first hour of sleep in the last 24. I've just awoken and given my athlete of a sister a painful massage to loosen her muscles, and now prepare for dinner and Bachna Ae Haseeno.

Day 353: Peering at the past is perfectly perilous and the future is a freaking farce.

After a night of nearly no sleep, we continued the strain of college shopping by venturing to the mall in search of suitable collegiate apparel for me and high-school appropriate clothing for Miss Priya. Tysons was smotheringly crowded and most of the day was spent wandering listlessly through stores' last-ditch efforts at selling summer wardrobes to lost souls such as myself.

One highlight of the day was finding crimson pants which will allow me to drip with school spirit this fall.

The best part, however, was running into two awesome people:

One goodbye is never enough, and I was pleased to hear that Nizar happened to be right outside H&M as Priya and I were shopping there. We got to see him, Bassima, and Bassam (three of my best friends) one last time before Varlet #1 leaves for school this week! Nizar's mom was absolutely fascinated by Priya's panda phone case, and we took the Zahed family's leave just soon enough to save Pendeo from her clutches. :)

After several more hours haciendo compras, we received news that the Azad family was also at Tysons (as usual). We waited at Express, my favorite store for men's clothing, as Arman sped in, asked us about our summers, and tried on some bright red pants.

We left the store highly amused, and soon returned home. I got to catch up with my sister Laura this evening, and hear all about her past week or so at Cornell. It was lovely to hear her voice, and I hope college will be everything she's dreamed.

I eagerly await dinner now, wrapping up this post as the lovely ladies downstairs whip up something Indian. This is the life!

Day 352: Why must we keep our wits about us?

We started this morning with chocolate pancakes and then finally embarked on something we've been meaning to do for a while . . . college shopping! Though the process is a bit stressful in itself, and emotionally taxing because of its home-leaving implications, I managed to purchase almost everything I will need with the help of two of the world's best shoppers -- Mama and Nani!

The family returned home just as my chauffeur Kenneson pulled up to escort me to a day of merrymaking at Fairfax Corner. What was supposed to be a populous valedictory pow-wow for Nizar ended up being just us four enjoying hours of Kenneson antics, semi-professional massages, painful harmonization, and exotically flavored frozen yogurt.

At dinner, Patrick, Nizar, Kenneson, and our waiter Tyler took especial pleasure in making an absolute fool of me, lobbing joke after joke as I, the "needy female," sat helplessly eating my "fried whatever." Kenneson banned cell phones during the meal, and I removed mine from our pile o' pagers only to take a photograph of . . . the pile o' pagers.

But even the utter joy and mindlessness of the day wasn't enough to distract from the wall of realization that hit me when I bid Varlet #1 farewell. These boys have carried me through this year (and the last!) and it's odd to think that we won't have another "VDV" meeting until Thanksgiving.

Kenneson and I did our best to dull the pain with the volume of our music on the way home, finding nothing but absolute rubbish on the radio. We settled for classical, and cranked Kenneson's speakers higher than ever before. I'm home now, thrilled at my day but wary of the goodbyes that lie ahead.

Day 351: You can place your bets, world.

I started the day with a grave mistake -- eating butter chicken for breakfast. Those ten minutes of scream-inducing euphoria were hardly worth the sluggish pace and sessile nature of the rest of my day. I attempted to counteract the unfailing lethargy which results from consumption of Punjabi food by swallowing down some coffee ice cream, thereby only adding to my foods-that-should-not-be-eaten-for-breakfast list and exacerbating the problem.

We left home before noon for Shenandoah National Park, with hot air ballooning dreams for the day. We soon learned, however, that due to impending thunderstorms, this mission would not be successful. We instead spent the day exploring the side of the park we've never seen before.

We had a lunch of fried chicken at one of the park's rest stops before piling back in the car and driving around some more. At a lookout point, we met a park ranger who showed us the coat of a lynx found in the park and suggested a trail for us to hike. We found Blackfoot Summit shortly and embarked on a great walk, at the top of which we came across an awesome pile of boulders formed by a landslide. After a family photo sesh, we returned to the car and slowly descended the mountain.

We now sit in the car, where Priya quizzes us on SAT vocabulary as I write this post.

Day 350: "Don't summarize your year in a sentence."

I could write down my year in conversations. It's amazing to look back at the rhetoric I used at the start of this journey to convince others and myself that gap time would be a "good" idea, and now to reflect on the ways I've actually achieved the somewhat broad goals I'd laid out for myself, some overtly and some obliquely, and some in ways I don't know about yet.

I had a chance to look back (and forward) with James Perla over coffee this morning, as we shared our observations on returning home after any immersive experience (James just returned from 7 weeks spent speaking only Portuguese at the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy). Apart from our "language reflects life" discussions and the entire two years of our own lives we had to fill one another in on, we also enjoyed a very "productive" talk, with our complete futures now completely planned out:

Ratna will move to Brasil, find some trees, and save them.
James will move to Brasil, find some children, and teach them.

Brasil was clearly a theme of our breakfast, as were music, feminism, comparative literature majors, and doing what one loves. For me, that is starting the day with a good conversation with a good friend.

I arrived back at home with grand plans of dorm shopping and college preparations, but found Mama and Nani instead in the midst of preparation for dinner with Mama's colleague and real estate mentor Lisa tonight.

I embarked on an hour of meditation, a phone call with Wooj, a bit of research for TNC, and a short workout. I then set out to imitate Nani's outfit exactly so we could be twins for the evening.

Dinner with Lisa was lots of fun -- we enjoyed butter chicken, rice, and Nani's comments before Klondike bars and old photo albums.

My nails are navy blue, I have a headache, and I'm off to bed.


P.S.  It's terrifying that time is running out. I leave for college in less than a week and there are still so many things to be collected, essays to be written, and people to be seen. I was always quite certain that Gap Day 350 would come and I would chuckle when it did, but it's here now and it's scary.

Day 349: "The ocean is too big."

Today, we saw Annapolis from a new angle.

We rented a speedboat at Oak Grove Marina and set off!

I sat in the front, helping Papa avoid crab pots . . .

 . . . as Priya enjoyed some Titanic moments.

We navigated through the Chesapeake Bay and made our way up to our favorite town, taking our time to float up "Ego Alley," where sailors drift into an Annapolis inlet and show off their boats. We've always enjoyed being spectators at this point, but today was the first time we got to perform!

We turned back, with a small detour to admire the Bay Bridge.

Our friend the lighthouse led us back to the dock . . .

. . . where we arrived tired and happy.