Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks Giving and Commerce Visit

I didn't know much about Thanks Giving Day. All I knew was that it is a two day holiday time just before the weekend, making it a 4 day long weekend. I also knew that Turkey (the bird, not the country!) has something to do with it.

I didn't bother much to learn more about it, when I realized that my project deadlines fall near those days and I will have to work (at least from home) instead of going out to see a new place.
There was a Thanks Giving Lunch party at office on Wednesday, before everyone left for holidays. And I enjoyed the meal, especially Turkey!

The term "Black Friday" was totally new to me. Here in US, the Friday after Thanks Giving, is celebrated by merchants as "Black Friday" with sales prices hitting rock bottom. My colleague here educated me well to make me understand that this is the time to buy any stuff that I wanted to buy. All shops had special deals, but I was told that people start queuing up in front of the shop doors as early as possible (and even from midnight the day before), to make sure that they grab the limited number of low priced deal items when the shops are open. I spent quite a lot of time going through the ads in web sites and news papers, but didn’t find anything really worth. They had laptops for 300 dollars, but the configuration was too low for me to buy.

As expected, I had work to do during those four consecutive holidays. But also found time to visit my friend Sreeku at his university town Commerce. The Texas A & M University campus was set in front of a small but beautiful lake. It was interesting to see an American University for the first time. And Sreeku cooked tasty Kerala meal with all side dishes to make our Thanks Giving Day a special one.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Great SSN

After waiting for more than 20 days, I got the message from my colleague that my Social Security Number (SSN) card has arrived at his address. Well... As I had mentioned earlier, here in US we need to have the SSN to do anything, be it taking license or getting a cable TV connection.

I didn't wait for long and started to my colleague's place which was more than 25 miles away from my place. For the first time, I am going to drive that long, without anyone for assistance. Took the printouts of the routes from Google Maps, studied the route well, and started the ride on the highways. Being there the first time, I was concentrating very hard on driving and took much care while changing lanes. There were some huge ramps to change highways and they were really scary! It was semi circular in shape... huge fly over like structures... and while driving down it, I felt as if I was descending in a giant wheel.

Everything was fine. I reached safely at destination and back to my place. Got my SSN Card. And this much awaited card was just a small piece of paper with the 9 digit number printed on it!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cooking started...

Sandwiches, burgers and mashed potatoes…. They are no more my favorites... All I wanted was some plain rice and pickle. So I started cooking after getting all the required utensils and grocery from Walmart.

It’s always fun to note down the first cooking in a new place… I cooked rice, my usual curry with tomatoes and onions and scrambled egg. Thanks to the rice cooker, the rice got cooked perfect. As a precaution (in case if cooking becomes a flop), I had some fruits also ready with me.

But… cooking alone is not at all interesting…:(

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Run… network marketing is here too…

I met this desi guy in front of a Desi Super Market. He started the conversation and soon was very friendly. Knowing that I just landed in US he invited to visit his place, to meet more desi guys. I did sense something strange in this immediate invitation, and postponed the visit to another time and gave my phone number.

Then I met another gentleman. He was so helpful and realized my problems of being alone here with settling activities. He also invited me to his friends place saying that I can meet more desi guys including people from Kerala. That was a good bait. I accepted the offer and when the day came, he started talking something about a business. So my guess was right. He said, people there will talk about some business that might not make any sense to me, but we can meet up his friends including Kerala guys after that. I agreed and joined him and ended up in an apartment on a Friday evening where there were a lot of people attending a meeting.

One guy was talking about a product that will make our body shine like the cars that was polished with wax. Wow! Then a lady came and talked about a shampoo and went into such details of hair that even I haven’t studied in any biology classes. She explained how this shampoo helped her overcome all her hair care issues. There were a lot of talks and demos including one from my friend!

I waited till the end of the show to see if indeed there are some Malayalis. There were two but both hardly spoke Malayalam as they were brought up outside Kerala. And everyone in that room was talking just about this business of making more money as a part time associate selling these products and adding more members.

I told my newly met friend that I am not at all interested in this and my tastes are totally different. He did understand that and I am sure, he will continue as a good friend without ever requiring me to join that network marketing business.

The next day, I got the call from the first guy I met. He asked when I will be free to meet more friends of him. I explained the above incident and said I am not at all interested.

So, run… this network marketing is everywhere!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Night With Scott Gu

Got a chance to attend a technology session from here. That too one of the eminent speakers from Microsoft, named Scott Guthrie. Details are at my tech blog CT Labs

See.... I was in the first seat!

Photo by Giovanni Gallucci of

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A place to call home

The first major step in settling down here is getting an apartment. It was difficult to get an apartment for rent without SSN and Credit History (even I wondered what it was… and still not sure what exactly it is… but know that one need to have a good history of paying bills in time and spending a lot of money in US, to get any financial deals here).

Here every search starts from net, and I short listed few apartments from For a single bed room, the rent varied from 475 to 800 per month. When I was about to settle on one, a colleague suggested to see few apartments in the famous Las Colinas area of Irving region.

I immediately fell in love with that place. There was a long creek surrounded by lush green lawn with a small jogging trail around it. The sight of lots of swans and ducks in the creek and people taking a stroll through this beautiful place was surely relaxing. The name of this place was Jefferson Park, but desi (Indian) people call it as Gandhi Park as there were a lot of Indians living around this area. The road named ‘Meadow Creek Drive’ surrounded this creek and there were many apartment complexes around this road. After visiting a few I settled for Summer Bends.

I had to pay one month rent as deposit (yeah… just one month) and got a nice one bed room apartment. There was a move-in special deal too, which required only half month rent for the first month.

I got an apartment at ground floor (Here they call it as first floor) of a 3 story mostly wooden made building… there are 11 more apartments in that building… wonder who all will be my neighbors…

So I ended my hotel room stays and moved into the new apartment. The good thing was that the kitchen already had essential equipments like microwave oven, refrigerator, etc. But the bad thing was that there was no furniture at all. A quick shopping from Walmart was enough to start with the basics. After all I was very happy that I had an address of my own and a place to call home.