Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ann Arbor post - part IV

That evening a friend of our colleague met us in the hotel. The colleague was to join us the next day. Let’s name this friend as A for convenience sake. He was A Sincere Hearted Orderly and Kind gentleman. We went to his apartment to meet my former team mate who has been staying here for the same client. We had a nice time as we exchanged pleasantries and caught up with the lost times. I bought a reliance calling card online through which we can call our contacts in India. For 10 dollars one would get a number and pin using which you can talk upto 78 minutes. Then we went to a place called Bombay groceries.

You got to see that place to believe it!! Once you enter that place you will forget that you are in US. It has all the stuff which you would find in a regular “Food world” or a “Subiksha” outlet all sold in dollars instead of rupees. It even has a video library section where in you can rent in a movie cassette from a decent collection of Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu movies. I didn’t note whether it had movies from other languages.

I wanted to call up my mother that instant and tell her that such a place existed.

After stuffing our bags with “Frozen parathas” and “Ready to make Sambhar” mix kind of stuff, we came back to the hotel all in A’s car. I didn’t know that we were to use more of his services in the subsequent days.

A very interesting thing to note in US is that the sunlight stays well upto 8-8.30 PM in the evening! It get dark only after that. And also the first light of the dawn breaks out only at 7oclock on the morning! (nobody gets up before that anyway!! Except me of course! )

I forgot to tell you the time difference between here and Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor falls in Eastern standard time zone which is 9 and half hours behind IST. Which means convert your day to night or vice versa and just add 2 and a half hours. For example if its Monday morning 6.30 AM in Chennai it would be 9PM Sunday night in Ann Arbor.

The next day we were to go to the client’s place. We booked a cab (there is no other way) and went to the client’s place!! I was again impressed by the orderliness and ease of traffic. I guessed it would be sometime before I got used to it.

Buildings in US don’t have a ground floor! All buildings start from the first floor! So if you have a 3 storey building you have 4 floors (1,2,3 and 4) instead of ground floor, first, second and third.

That evening we went to open up a bank account. We were suggested a place near our hotel by the fellow infoscions who had already opened up an account there.

SSN is a major headache wherever you go!! SSN or a social security number is the unique number using which each person is identified in the US. They ask for it wherever you go and since you don’t have it as soon as you in US we have to make temporary arrangements with the establishment before it arrives.

We gave our passport number as an alternative document and got the account created!

Another word which you will get to hear whenever you are going to do any financial dealing, is credit score. In US a credit rating is maintained for individuals based on their history of credit worthiness. In other words it is based on the track record of their ability of the money they had obtained from any financial institution. Since we were new to this country there was not credit score for us so we had to pay a hefty caution deposit to establish our trust worthiness.

The next major arrangement to be done was the accommodation. With the help of the fellow infoscions who were based in that city already we narrowed in to an apartment called Pheasant run. It is a huge campus with around 20 single storeyed structures evenly spaced out with lawns and wide roads. Each of these structures has 8 apartments in it. We get an option of choosing either a single bedroom or a double bedroom apartment. There was a special offer going on wherein one month rent was free if we take a lease for 1 year.

And also since we didn’t have any credit score we were pay a hefty caution deposit of $685. The discounted rent came upto $625 and there was a processing fee of $25. But before we could move in we were to arrange for the energy and insurance. There is a company called DTE energy which takes care of the gas and electricity needs of the house. We need to set up an account with them so that our usage can be billed. Even there we had to pay a substantial caution deposit as we didn’t have any social security number.

Then there was the insurance. We called up an insurance company and the attendant took us through the ordeal of answering zillions of questions, the answers for most of which didn’t know. There were questions like

How far is the nearest fire station?

When was the apartment built?

What is it made of?

What is the roof made of?

Etc etc

After that we got cashiers cheque (something like a DD) from the bank and paid of all the charges for the apartment. It should be noted that to go to all of these places we had to book a taxi!!

That weekend was when we moved in to the apartment and as soon we came in we had to indulge in a shopping exercise to stock up our homes with basic articles and also to replenish our groceries.

The next day we went to an Indian restaurant in downtown aptly named as “Madras Masala”. We took the buffet lunch worth $8 and included lot of mouth watering items that can found in any restaurant back home. The rasam needs a special mention as I gulped it in to avenge the burgers which had been battering my taste buds for a week.

After completing one full week in a new country I got settled with the pluses and minuses of the new place. While food and transport were the major problem areas life was pretty manageable otherwise. But I was given a neat welcome by the host of surprises which I had come across in a brief period of time.
--The End

A translation of this series can be found in my tamil blog.


Divya said...

\"The rasam needs a special mention as I gulped it in to avenge the burgers which had been battering my taste buds for a week.\"

Hi CVR, ur post reminded me my earlier days in US,
that too these lines.....even rasam will seemed to be
' Devamirtham' isnt it?

Pria said...

CVR, I accidently stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed reading it.. especially the whole experience of travel from India and the Wendy's Meatless burger.
I was able to visualize the writing into a movie and that made it more enjoyable.


CVR said...

Thanks Divya!!
You got that right! :-)

Glad you liked it!
Thanks for the visit and the comment!!

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aravindaan said...

I was there in Ann Arbor for short period. I worked in ADP. The downtown is nice place and also the Madras Masala is too good. Especially the rasam.
There is public transfort i used to travel.

It is nice to read ur blog.

srivats said...

Ungay kudai US vandha madhiri erukku
Thanks for coming into my blogs.

Ramya said...

Hmm CVR read almost all your posts.I am really impressed by your narration skill in all stories. Ur Tamil post was also wonderful! Keep writing!

Reg your US travel experience, everyone person who comes for first time here has some hidden fear!Your post reminded me of my travel experience too!