I’m literally and figuratively “on top of the world” right now. I’m currently flying from Delhi to my new home in Pune feeling so happy to be alive. My wife and I spent the past few weeks in New York and Los Angeles visiting family and friends as a newly and happily married couple. I must say that this was by far the most fun and memorable of all of the annual trips I’ve taken back to the US since moving to India in 2009 (the number is up to 7 now). It was extraordinary to have the opportunity to take Avantika through my wonderful life in the US and show off my beautiful wife to my family and friends.
Sticking to the sports theme of the blog, it was also extraordinary to have the opportunity to show off a bit of my past professional life to Avantika. Thanks to my friends and former colleagues at Major League Soccer, we got fantastic tickets to watch two exciting MLS matches in two incredibly unique environments.
The first match was New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, New York. We thoroughly enjoyed sampling all of the hot dogs, cookies, wine and other delectables in the Yankees Stadium corporate suite while watching legends Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa all score goals to lead the home team to an important regular season victory. In between watching the match and catching up with New York City FC staff, I did my best to remind Avantika that not every soccer game we attend in the future would include gourmet cheeses and our own private bathroom.
The second match was a 4th of July extravaganza between LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps at StubHub Centre in Southern California. Avantika and I joined my Brother and his Girlfriend for a fun evening which consisted of pre-game tailgating and a thrilling post game fireworks display. The best part though was watching two more legends Seven Gerrard and Robbie Keane put on a display on the pitch with two assists and a goal respectively to lead the LA Galaxy to victory. I’m not sure if it was the beers I had or the inspiring fireworks show, but I left the that evening filling Avantika’s ear with my promise to create the same world class in-stadium experience in India one day.
But the reason why I’m figuratively “on top of the world” is that I’m so excited to arrive back in Pune soon so I can resume my efforts to build DSK Shivajians FC into a model club. During the entire trip, I had the opportunity to discuss my new role as CEO of DSK Shivajians with friends and family across the country, share my thoughts on the potential of club and get guidance from some of the people I respect most in US soccer. Everyone who I interacted with was completely supportive and proud of my Indian journey thus far, giving me even more energy and conviction to continue my mission of supporting the professional and sustainable growth of soccer in India.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. And, honestly, I must admit that after so many years of travelling to the US as a single guy representing an agency, it was nice to come home this time as a married man running a professional football club.