Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Honda Passport

The wait is finally over. No more browsing through EkNazar or CraigsList web sites looking for a used car. My new friend here Syam introduced me to one of his family friends who had a car to sell. It was an SUV. A really big Honda Passport. 2000 model. It was looking really good. Hundred thousand plus miles was already recorded, but everything looked still fine. I was bit doubtful about myself in handling a big car. But the thought that this car comes at a good price, and saves me from the trouble of searching and locating another one overtook my worries. More over, here in Texas, roads are wide and parking lots are spacious! An SUV is safer and surely a better option for long trips. Then the short test drive I did proved that, it was not that hard to drive an SUV as I had thought.

The deal was made. Brought the car to my apartment and parked nicely in the parking lot. As a first step took Liability Insurance from GEICO over phone and got the documents by email immediately. The next morning, I wanted to take a long drive. I just opened the front door to get in... Alas... The door was bit heavy and before I could hold it properly, it opened fully and bumped onto the next car parked alongside. Oops! Looked around. Nobody in the vicinity. Checked on the other car to see, if anything has really happened to it. There was some paint from my car's door. Tried to remove it with hand and then looked from an angle. There was a small dent.

Meanwhile I was been watched by the owner who was living upstairs. He came angrily and asked for compensation. I calmed him down saying that I am not going to run away. Then I asked how much I will have to pay for it. He went inside his home for getting a quote online and came back saying it will cost around $450!

"Oh my God! Did I just loose $450 because I didn't hold the door of my car when I opened it?"

"Yes.... it’s a new Mercedes Benz worth $40,000!"

It took a lot of time for me to get out of that shock. I was yet to come out of the loss of $375 for running the car onto curbs. Here is another one! As my friend Ranjish said, here in America, anything you touch will cost you money!

Finally GEICO came to my rescue and they paid for the damages. I was relaxed. But I will never park my car near such costly cars again! And I will never let the door slip out of my hands again!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Costly Little Mistake

I was still looking for a car to buy. Keeping the rented Pontiac till I buy a car, will be a costly affair. That's when my colleagues suggested this guy named Nazar who rents ‘not so good’ old cars for $250 a month. He gave me a very old Volvo car and I managed it for few days to commute to office. Then it started misbehaving... Sometimes not even moving! So got it replaced with another old Nissan car. Things went fine until this Monday morning. I was pretty comfortable in driving; no matter it is service road or free ways. My boss (one who gave me initial lessons on driving here) was back in town and he was too surprised to see that I was confident to pick him from his hotel for a ride to office.

On Monday, it was a long day at work. I was coming back to room through the usual roads. Instead of keeping on the usual left lane, this time I was on the right lane. Somehow I got lost in thoughts for few seconds and when I realized that, I was on a signal controlled junction. The lights have just turned to Orange. Not wanting to wait there for some more time, I rushed across the junction bit fast to beat the Red lights. Not knowing that by the time the right lane had divided into two lanes, one that goes straight and the other (which I was on) that turns to right. The road was ending there and it was a long curb after the junction. My car went over that long curb all way long, making such scary bumping sound. I didn't know what was going wrong, till the curb ended and the car landed back on the road. I stopped the car and got out to see what had happened. All the four wheels were completely damaged, thanks to the rough curb with some metal debris on it.

I really don’t want to write a big story out of this small incident, but wanted to tell you one thing. I will never be saying again that I am confident and comfortable, when it comes to driving.

I had to wait two hours on the road, in that chilly weather, with a mobile whose battery lasted just to make a call to the rental guy and my friend here. The towing guys came and returned saying that they cannot tow a car with all four wheels damaged. My friend finally got the voice message I left in his battery drained mobile, and picked me up.

Since there was no insurance, I had to pay 375$ from my pocket, for the damages. The next three days, I was without a car but my colleague helped me to commute to work.

Now I am back with this old car, driving to office through the usual roads again. And my driving is now... (no no....) just ok...!

Later on I realized that, I was not the only one who made the same stupid mistake at the same place. Even more, I was happy to realize that I lost only 375 dollars and nothing else.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Severe Weather Alert

This was another new experience. Everybody here talks a lot about weather. Even during the winter, Dallas does not expect much snow. But when it snows here, it is a big deal as the city does not have proper means to handle it. On 29th, November the discussion in the office was about this rare day that happens once or twice in an year in Dallas. I was told not to venture into office on next day without checking the roads first, as the snow turns to ice, or rather sleet here making the roads dangerous to drive.

When I came back to the apartment, there was a warning board at the front side saying "Freeze Alert!”. The notice stuck on my house door also warned about the severe weather and requested to take caution while walking and driving. It also asked to leave the water taps dripping to avoid freezing in the pipes.

All this kept me in anticipation. I was looking forward to see something big happen (so that I can brag about it and take photos! :)). But, to my disappointment, nothing much happened in the morning... so I had to go to work. After noon, things started changing and we could hear the strong windy noise even within the conference hall in the office. When I looked out, I could see snow falling. Well... it was not that beautiful snow that you see in movies. It was like a heavy rain... and then there was ice on the ground. Everyone started packing off from work and I also joined the group gladly to head to my apartment. Driving carefully, as there was ice already on the roads especially on the bridges, where it melted very slowly.
By evening, things were little more beautiful and there was some visible white snow around. I enjoyed a walk through the near by park, but there was nothing spectacular for my camera.