One more weekend with Sreeku and his friends. This time we spent the whole Saturday to get my remaining settling activities done. Bought a plug converter so that my camera charger can be used here with American plugs and I will be all set to take more photos. :) Opened a bank account, so that my company can pay me salary every month. :) Finalized an apartment for rent to which I can shift by next month.
The next thing was renting a car as that would make me a lot more independent. The car rental agency was not willing to give me the car, as I was not having a credit card, SSN, or a Texas driving license. I showed my old Indian driving license and after some cross verifications, they agreed and I used my company’s corporate credit card. I was looking for the most economical package and there was a nice looking Pontiac Grand Prix (http://www.pontiac.com/grandprix/index.jsp) which they agreed to give for a better deal, and I rented it for two weeks.
Wow! This car was really beautiful. You can start the car from outside before entering the car, using the remote. Inside was also feature rich and marvelous. The best thing I liked was the indicator that shows the real time directions like South, North, South-East, etc as the car moves which helps in avoiding lot of guess work while struggling to reach a place. I started driving from there with friends and they gave me all instructions. I was comfortable in driving now, and the only problem was finding the right directions and remembering the routes.
I also paid a short visit to the Commerce university town to watch their Diwali celebrations. The students there were having great fun with blasting Hindi songs and dances.
I was all alone on Sunday and it was a clear good day. The best time to try driving alone for the first time. Before venturing, I spent a lot of time on printed maps, Google Earth and Google Maps, to get a better understanding of the area I lived and the nearby roads. Started the trip with confidence and did few circles around the hotel before heading for a main road that I knew well. Hmm… it was cool. Why not take a deviation now? There was a small side road on my right and I went ahead. Alas… it was a ramp that joins onto a highway. Remembered my friend’s words… “Even if you go wrong, do not slow down or stop on the roads…. It’s better to get lost than to meet an accident”. So I speeded up and joined the fast flowing high way traffic praying inside to see the next exit very soon. But there was none. Bad luck again… there appears the toll sign! It was a toll road and I paid 75 cents to the person at the gate, greeting him as usual trying to hide my uneasiness. After few more miles, I saw an exit from the highway and few more tensed minutes after I got back on a familiar road.
Time to take a break! Back to the room and laptop. Noted down all major roads again. From Google Maps, took the complete directions to the place I had booked my apartment (Irving) and from there back to my room. This time, I followed the directions as it is, and was back in my room without any issues.