By Rachel

After Southeast Asia and India, we planned to go back to the States to regroup before we headed to South America (going from summer to winter) and use the time to go to our friend’s wedding, our brother-in-law’s PhD graduation and catching up with family and friends. Since we had been spending 3-4 days in each city we went to in Southeast Asia, we figured we would continue the trend!

First stop – Chicago, IL for our friends’ wedding (Leena and Divakhar). This was a great welcome back to the States as I got to see some besties that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to catch up with! We hung out with roommate and Aim on Friday and part of Saturday while getting over jetlag and went to the sangeet and reception on Friday and Saturday night. I may or may not have had too much fun (Samir’s note: after excessive “liquid” intake, she became friends with the toilet) and spend half the next day recovering – welcome back to the States! We enjoyed a birthday brunch for Rohit and then went to a fun street festival since it was a nice Chicago summer day! Samir’s Note: I was so excited when we were at the street festival because I realized it was on Division Street, which is usually listed on those lists of the top streets in America, due to their pedestrian-friendly design characteristics.

Awesomely unique venue for Leena’s sangeet! Samir was in car heaven 🙂

The gorgeous couple 🙂

Roommates! (and our husbands)

With lil Sarav!

The Senguptas 🙂

Millenium Park

From Chicago, we headed to Austin to see Samir’s parents and have some family time. We also got a chance to catch up with some Austin friends, including lil bobee Asha!

Lil Bobee Londono

With the Londonos

From Austin, we headed back to Houston for a few days to catch up with friends, former co-workers and family.  And we got to meet another new addition, Ayan Shah.

Cutie Ayan Shah at 11 days old!

We then headed out to Dallas to hang out with some of Samir’s friends and former co-workers for a couple days.

Finally, we rounded out our America trip with a visit to Samir’s sister and husband (Sonia and Chand) to celebrate Chand’s PhD graduation. I may have fallen a little bit in love with Cali this time around (though I’ve been here several times before – I felt more connected to it this time!). Plus, I got to visit an old childhood friend and his adorable son Nikhil (and wife of course!).

I think Nikhil won 🙂

Story time – Chaat & Sweets!

Gorgeous Santa Cruz

Childhood friends

Chand’s PhD hooding!

Proud of my bro-in-law, Dr. Chand John!

Samir’s Note: There was this moment when we were driving, on our first day there, from Mountain View to Oakland, where we crossed a bridge over the Bay. It was a long bridge, but that first view of the Bay, and the landscape – wow. It was breathtaking, and one image that played strongly into our thoughts of maybe someday moving to the Bay Area.