Thursday, January 18, 2007

Icy Days Again!

As I had mentioned earlier, snow and chilly weather is not that common in Dallas. It usually happens just once or twice in a year. But this year, things are different.

We had long days of chilly weather and there were ice and snow showers on two days again. On both these days, we were asked not to venture out to office and hence I worked from home.

Friday, January 12, 2007

New York Visit

The much awaited day has come. My wife is joining me here as her final year exams are over. I took two days off from work to pick her from New York. On Wednesday, I went to New York by American Airlines flight and reached there by evening. My friend and colleague Guru is working at New York in a place called Tarrytown which was around 30 miles from the John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport where I landed. It was at the last moment I decided to meet him and stay at his place, and he gave me detailed instructions on metro and trains. His room mate and our colleague JP was there in the city on that day. From the Airport, I took the AirTrain to reach Jamaica Center and from there by E-Subway went to Manhattan. Got down at the 42nd Street station and its exit was to the famous Time Square. I was totally amazed to see those colorful and beautiful tall buildings with huge TV screens on walls showing flashy advertisements. It was terribly chilling cold, but I kept wandering around those crowded streets and avenues enjoying prestigious buildings like NASDAQ. Time Square was charmingly beautiful at night and streets were as busy and crowded like Brigade Road in Bangalore on a weekend night. As arranged, I met JP from there and we went around looking for sight seeing. Visited Empire State Building and Rockefeller Plaza. Took lots of photos too.

When we were totally tired of walking and chilling weather, we went to the Grand Station and caught a train to Tarry town. It took around 45 minutes to reach their place and I stayed with them enjoying the dinner Guru prepared and listening to his recent Grand Canyon adventures.

Next day early morning, I started from Tarrytown and reached JFK by 07:30 AM. My wife's flight (Emirates from Dubai) was delayed for 2 hours and hence had to re-schedule our onward journey to Dallas. Though both of us were tensed about the travel formalities, everything went fine. The prepaid international roaming from Airtel helped her in reaching me as soon as she landed. And I was using the 20$ TracPhone for roaming!. We were so happy and relaxed to meet, as all the tensions over her maiden voyage is now over, and we can start the family life again :). The flight to Dallas was from La Guardia Airport and we reached there just in time, by catching a bus from JFK airport. My friends were waiting at Dallas Airport to take us home, after this long and tiring trip.

The sad part of this story: My camera storage card got corrupted and I lost all those New York photos! Demands another trip to New York with backup storage cards!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Texas Driving License

The Texas DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) web site mentioned that a license from foreign country is valid here for an year as long as that country gives the same privileges to US citizens. Since India was among that list of countries, I was driving with confidence using my Indian Driving License and keeping a copy of this statement from website. And the good thing here is that cops will never stop us and verify our papers as long as we don’t get into any troubles. However, having a Texas Driving License was important, as I am going to be here for some time.

The first step was to download the 104 pages Texas Drivers Handbook and study it properly to clear the written test. One of my friends here already had an experience of appearing for the test thinking that all you need is common sense to clear an exam. He failed miserably. I started going through the Handbook page by page and was comfortable to appear for the test until I saw some of the sample questions like "What is the maximum number of inches that you may lawfully allow an object to extend beyond the left fender of your car?", "If a child runs into the road 45 to 50 feet ahead of your car, what is the highest speed from which you can stop with good breaks without hitting him?"?", "What’s the maximum fine for driving without license?". It was not about just common sense or understanding the sign boards. I had to learn all these numbers and figures and calculations.

Finally, on 2006 November 29th I went to the DMV office, applied for Driving License and Identity Card (This Photo Card, will be issued immediately, and can be used for identification purposes till I get license.). Cleared the vision test by identifying the traffic signal colors and reading those small letters. The examination was computerized and I passed it with 80% marks.
I was already comfortable in appearing for the driving test, but I had to wait until one my friends was available to come along with me on a working day to DMV office, as they required that another person with valid license should accompany. On 2007 January 5, I went for the driving test and had to wait for more than an hour for my turn. A trooper first verified the car to make sure all indicators and break lights are working properly. Then she accompanied me asking me giving the driving directions. It took around 10 minutes and we went through main roads, and small testing my skills on driving, observing signals and other vehicles, changing lanes, etc. Finally there was parallel parking, and I did it well, though it was my first attempt at it. I passed the test, though I got a bad score in observing.

I got my temporary driving license issued immediately and my Photo Card will come by post within few weeks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dallas Mallus and Lunch Buffets

Living the life as bachelor here is not that boring as expected, thanks to my friends here. Through my engineering classmate Sreeku, now I am in good friends with most of his friends from the University here. Syam, Reno, and Biju are the other members in this newly formed Dallas Mallus gang. Weekends are fun with outings, food and movies. New Year Party was one of such events and we all really had a good time.

Sometimes we cook from my apartment or we go out for a lunch buffet. Weekend buffet means unlimited food for 8 or 9 dollars. We always make sure we eat as much as we can, and force to sleep ourselves the whole after noon.

There is one Kerala restaurant here in Dallas. The one and only Tharas! They have weekend buffet with such wonderful and nostalgic items like 'Kappa & Meen Curry', Beef Fry, Kerala Meals, etc. Then there is Mayuri where even masala dosas are served without any limits during buffet.

The Fun Asia movie theatre here shows latest movies in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. Though its 10 dollars, its always fun to watch movies from theatres. If there are no good movies, we take a DVD and watch it together from my room in laptop.