Traffic Jams in the US of A

Well, this blog post is a bit long in coming to the blog – but it has been ruminating in my mind for quite some time now…. On last Saturday me and Mom were invited for lunch at one of her colleague’s place in Delaware. We went, had lunch, chatted with them and left.

From our place in Dumont to their place in Delaware, we followed the GPS and went via the I-95 to get there in about a couple of hours drive (which is over a 100 miles)! But on our way back, Mom had an idea – she figured that at a certain Exit on the I-95 we could get on to the Garden State Parkway – which is a more straightforward route to our home.

And so, when that Exit came up, off we went on the ramp. Although it was the weekend, the I-95 had pretty less traffic. But not so on the Garden State Pkwy. We were right in the middle of a 5 lane highway which had a lot of cars.

Now, the whole concept of a traffic jam in the US of A and the concept of a traffic jam in India are poles apart. So, guess what… we are in a traffic jam on the G.S. Pkwy. Cars are moving quite slowly. And we are nicely in the middle lane and all the lanes are moving along once in a while. So Mom finally turns on the local radio station on the car radio, where we discover that an accident has taken place.

So all of us are stuck in the jam – for a stretch of over 10 miles, there are over thousands of cars stuck at what is typically the ‘Dinner Hour’ here in the US. Cars are moving along – one lane at a time is slowly moving forward. None of the cars are breaking out of their lanes. jon5 We were stuck in that scene for over 2 hours.

And in that entire time, I did not hear one single toot from a car horn. CAN U BELIEVE IT??? No one honked.

In fact, when we came close to the exit where the accident happened, everyone co-operated with each other. Two lanes of traffic had been closed so that the Police and the Ambulance and the Car Towing people could do their jobs. So, cars from the middle and second lanes moved to accommodate the cars which were coming in from the other two lanes.

And not a single person honked or screamed or yelled.

Everyone was frustrated at the delay.

But everyone co-operated with each other. Everyone made way for the other person to go.

And everyone stayed in their lanes and followed traffic rules.

While all of this was going on, I flashbacked to my days in Pune. The last apartment I lived in was bang in the middle of a crossroad… where from 6 in the evening till about 9.30 in the evening, every single day, there was a bumper to bumper traffic jam. A jam so bad, that if anyone wanted to go out with me or anything, we had to work out a time thing, or a place thing just to avoid that traffic jam.

And no one ever co-operated with each other, or followed traffic rules or anything of the sort. In fact the car horn cacophony would often get so loud that even I could hear it from my house!

And trust me when I was sitting there in the traffic jam on the G.S. Pkwy recalling the everyday traffic jams, I was so moved, I almost wept.

I mean, I may not be a great fan of all things ‘Amreekan’, but trust me, this kind of co-operation and conscientiousness was really appreciable!

This is one thing about the US of A which I have rather come to like – people here follow rules – not because they are scared of the cops or because they are stupid, but because they realize that the rules are there for a good reason, and they know the reason, and because it is the right thing to do. They have what I call a ‘social conscience’ which I rarely see in India.

I mean, what do you do in India when you want to finish that can of Pepsi or want to throw away a piece of chewing gum or a paper wrapper while you are traveling in a car? Naturally, most people just wind down the window, and throw it out on the street.

You won’t see people here do that.

And if something must be thrown, they look for a dustbin and dump it there.

If you really want to know what being nice is all about, get yourself into a traffic jam and find out!

Updated! Ready to Go!

Well… many of you have written to me wondering why I haven’t updated and sent out my latest newsletter yet!

To be honest with you folks, it has been a rough ride for me. And I know that this must be sounding like one hell of a long, and repetitive complaint – but trust me, it has been a rough ride for me. I am going to come out and say it like a man – I am missing India and my life there and my friends over there – every single damn thing about India..

It is not like USA is a bad place or whatever, but I miss my life. And it is not like I don’t like it here or anything – I do. And so, I am on this weird roller-coaster ride in and out of funks and depressions. I guess, over a period of time, I will get over it. Meanwhile, I finally took some time out to update my website. And it even includes a couple of funky forms for when you want to Request a Quote or for when you want to Book a Reading. I have even included a slide-show of my Portfolio on the website – so you can all be dazzled by the different assignments I have done!

Everything Official About It!!

First off, apologies for the break in blog posts…to be honest, I haven’t been that busy, but am certainly guilty of being lazy!!

Well… it has been over 2 months now that I have come to the USA. And it has been over a few weeks now that I am a proud (??) owner of the renowned Green Card, and eventually the recipient of the Social Security Number.

So that is it – it is official now – I am officially a part of the United States of America. And for all intents and purposes I will be so for many years to come.

In the past few weeks, I have been going through the initial phases of the transformation – it takes a while to get used to the weather here (especially if your first visit to USA is during a snowfall) – and all said and done, the process has not been easy because I am pretty adamant and so uneasy with adapting to change.

However, over a period of time, I have tried hard to overcome my mental blocks about America and try to assimilate what I do see about the country. So far, I have seen some aspects of the country which I do like, and some which are not so different from India and some which are so typically American….

I have also been able to overcome my being overwhelmed by it all – and have been able to become somewhat independent here…although, it is not that 100% since I don’t drive or have a driver’s license or own a car… but hopefully that will change in a month or so….Meanwhile, I have been able to figure out the public transport  system here (so far, buses and subways) and get by with it. Amazingly, the public transit system does follow the timetable to a large extent and Google Maps can show how one can get from one place to the other via bus – it is quite interesting.

You guys cannot even imagine how much I have walked ever since I have come here …. for a person who chose to take a rickshaw to go from her flat to Prems (which is like 2 blocks) – I have walked distances which are more than twice that much and more in NYC.

So, now I can catch the bus and take the subway to go to different parts of ‘the city’ (that means the New York City) and for some reason, I don’t find the city to be that intimidating at all… I mean, I know of Americans who do find NYC scary and what not – but somehow, not me… Plus, there is so much to explore in the city – and once you get the hang of its layout, it is a breeze….see, NYC is like a grid – there are streets (which are numbered or named) and these are cut across by avenues (which are also numbered or named)…and then any address is simple to find…yes well… again, it isn’t as simple as it sounds but that is the basic thing of it anyways!!

And I have finally gotten back to smoking – Oh Yessiree!! Camel Regulars are wayyy better than Marlboro regulars!! And needless to say, I find it quite funny that one generally finds cigarette packs in the pharmacy here!! Since my mum has asthma, I usually end up going out to the porch and sitting on the stairs to smoke…and funnily enough, the number of ciggys I smoke has come down to 3 – 5 per day instead of the earlier 35 – 40 per day!! Probably because I did not smoke a single cigarette in the past month and a half!

And I will not apologize for the reason I took up smoking again – for some reason, my brain just refused to function without the smokes!! And I had an assignment which I had to complete – for which I simply couldn’t find inspiration…can you believe it? Without a cigarette, I cannot find the first line – the very important first line – because when I get the first line, the next few pages (and the next hour or so) just passes by like a breeze! More about that phenomenon would be appropriate on my writing blog, methinks!

I have also discovered interesting food here – toaster waffles, heat and eat pasta dishes, quesadillas, spaghetti pumpkins, burritos, and of course, an interesting Indian restaurant called ‘Sarvana Bhavan’ on 26th and Lexington (in NYC) which serves good South Indian food… actually most of 26rh is covered with Indian restaurants and gets pretty crowded over the weekends with all the Desis in and around NYC.

The weather here also doesn’t leave much to the imagination – however, the wise people look at the weather channel on TV or weather website and ‘Know Before You Go’! Well…I landed here when the snow was falling and the entire thing looked nice for like 10 minutes, and then all I could do was look at the bleak landscape of the snow covered lawns and barren trees and NOT get depressed!! And then it was the advent of Spring – which so far has been characterized by cloudy and windy weather with slight showers and rains… And then once in a while, the sun comes out – to shine and glow – reminding me of winters in Pune…. Well they say that Spring hasn’t funny sprung yet and Summer will be better….Am truly hoping for the best!

I may even decide to get into a short course or something in a nearby college / university – to (a) get an idea of how the teaching-learning process happens over here, and (b) make some friends  and (c) give me a reason to get out and about….believe me, over here, I am not finding it so easy to be sitting at home all day – I need to go out and stretch my legs everyday and so I have taken to going for a short walk ever so often in the park near my home….

In short, I have decided to give this country a shot – after all, it doesn’t hurt to do so…I have decided that I will decide after some years (between 3 and 5) if I want to remain here or go back to India – how about that !!???!!

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

Visit to New York

So, I finally visited New York City on the 21st of February, 2009.

Being quite a lazy bum, I actually took the effort to make this video out of the photos I took with my cell phone during my visit, so that I would not have to write much about it.

Those of you who cannot see the video, see it here on You Tube!

The Picasa album of the pics I took with the cell phone is also embedded below…this one has no music…and no captions either….

And for the others, the video is embedded below just for you!!

Hope y’all enjoy the trip as much as I did!!