Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Week Down

Exactly one week since I came here. Feels much much longer. There was this one entire day in the middle of the week when all I had was Indian food. Thank god that happened, because sandwiches were getting a bit much. For lunch, good old office folks shared their home cooked lunch and for dinner, we went to some place called Bombay Palace. The amount of food people order here is scary. In fact, the portions itself are huge. Back home, if you order one portion, it almost looks like a side order sometimes. Here, a side order is as good as main course! Okay back to Bombay Palace. Ordinary food, good ambience and excellent music. By excellent, I mean Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Jagjit Singh. I had to refrain from singing along because I was sitting with client folks. One of the Americans at our table put us to shame by ordering the spiciest dish on the menu. And to top it, he happily cut a few green chillies and added it to his plate. Didn't even break a sweat!

Jet lag is definitely better now. Or maybe its not even there. Sleep cycle has become sane. Checking things off the to-do list everyday. Reads like this -
  • Bank account - Done
  • Money in the account - Questionable
  • Credit card - ahem...won't happen for a while I think
  • Acco - Sort of homeless
  • Food - Need a kitchen. Must fix the point above
  • SSN - TBD
  • Phone - Done (Nexus clan..yay!)
  • License - Nope
  • Car - Can drive on Indian license. Potentially suicidal. Avoiding.
  • Plans for coming weekends - you bet! :)
The calling list has become much much longer here. Realized that one too many people have moved to US. No wonder my call list in India used to have all of four or five people. I know they say that everything and everyone is now just a phone call away, but it helps to be in the same time zone. So, now instead of talking to Divs and Shubha once in a month, there are daily conversations. :) Sounds more like a daily update to mom nowadays, what with my image of an unruly child who should be kept in control. But it is extremely comforting. :) 

Saw a bit of the city in the weekend. It was high time. Have had enough of walking up and down Wilshire Boulevard. Also helps that Naren is here. Wheels look like a necessity here. Friday evening was spent at LACMA. There was an open air jazz concert. No, I don't really follow jazz but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless. Plus, we also got introduced to 2 buck chuck from Trader Joe's. In simpler terms, two dollar wine bottles. Pretty good stuff. S is already excited by the sound of it all. :) That was followed by quite a few rounds of pool at this place called Frank n Hanks accompanied by good classic rock. Met quite a few locals. Farhad spoke in broken hindi and said if we face any problem, we should come to him. Very Godfather-esque. He bordered on scary. Then there was Nico who was waiting for his date for the evening, Yami. The evening was spent with these guys, at the pool table and then at some place called The Brass Monkey. That was a decent amount of fun for a first weekend in a new city. 

Yesterday went to Venice beach. Took the Nikon out finally. Sunset was pretty as a picture! Though the multiple rounds of search for cheap parking was not very fun. Happy hour margaritas were stronger than Chennai Long Islands! We gave up halfway. One too many Mexican food places everywhere. Should get started with that. Now that I have recommendations. Oh Sri would be happy to know this one. I found cake batter ice cream from Cold Stone here. :) The houses look weak here. Almost looks like they will get uprooted with the first gust of strong wind. 

Glimpses of Venice beach

Monday is almost here. Thanks to teams back in India as well, work shall begin Sunday night. I am one of those who looks forward to a full week. :) So, not very blue about it. Time for lunch now. Plans of seeing Hollywood Boulevard and Griffith Observatory today. If we manage to budge. More later!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jetlagging Through the Afternoons

Thanks to jet lag, I am sleeping for 12 hours every day! I will explain why. By the time, it is 4 pm, jet lag sets in. By 6, I am literally the walking dead. And you know, how I give in easily. So, I sleep by 7. Then, I wake up at an ungodly hour to eat. My stomach clock is better than all this time zone body clock nonsense. Simply put, irrespective of the situation, I wake up when I am hungry. So, I fix myself a quick bite and then remind myself, that I should be asleep when it is night time here. So, I (force myself to) sleep again and happily wake up next morning at 7. See, 12 hours! I figured you would say that some things never change. 12 hours here and 12 hours there. I just have a better excuse now. :)

Yesterday, went on a business lunch to a Korean place. Went to this place called Genwa in Koreatown. Oh not to forget, I am living in Koreatown. Sounds cooler if I say Wilshire Boulevard, right? :D Going back to the business lunch. So, they serve about 20 kinds of appetizers (sea weed, squid, fish cakes, braised beef, more fishy things and a whole lot of veggie things). But ofcourse, chopsticks were the order of the day. My one week in Japan and two dinners at home were not ample practice. But I am a brave soul. So I picked up the chopsticks and the bowl of fish cake, snapped those two sticks around the fish cake and almost ate it. Inches away from my mouth, it obviously fell off. So close! I did manage some food before I ordered for a fork. :) Ordered chicken bibimbap for main course. Though Korean, a fellow brethren from the Bong land might have had a hand in creating this dish. So much rice! So, its rice, veggies, chicken and a very spicy sauce - all mixed together in a hot plate. Portions here are huge. Shubha says people eat half and takeaway half. Maybe that's what I should have done instead of eating all of it. Imagine jet lag and a plate full of rice and meetings all afternoon. By the time I reached the hotel, I almost passed out. 

I finally have a number. A prepaid one. I have the Rupee syndrome and I guess it will stay for a while. The moment anyone tells me the dollar amount for anything, I mentally convert it to INR. And then feel very uneasy about the price! Anyway, Ma's missing you mail had to be addressed. First call was to mommy dearest. :) 

I have been warned to not venture out alone once it is dark. Last I heard this warning, it was good old Delhi. And before that, the dark ages in Patna. Who would have thought that LA and Patna will strike a note on such levels. :-/ Not very pleased about it. 

It is almost 9 and I am not out cold. Maybe the jet lag is on its way out. 

American ads don't even come close to Indian ads, when it comes to creativity. And warmth.

Work has started already. Quite the lost lamb here. At 5 feet and nothing, it is a little difficult to be taken seriously. Trying nonetheless. People are kind. Will take a little time to smile at strangers and throw in a how are you doing. We don't do that in India.

I miss Savdhaan India. 

Must stop writing now. Too much information alert!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Starting from Scratch

Dear S,

Writing from Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. As cool as it might sound, the room feels cold and unfriendly and I am fighting jetlag. Does not add up well. Miss the warmth of home.

The flight was surprisingly bearable. Amidst all the sleeping, eating and the Good Wife, there was barely any time to fret over the length of the journey. These zillion time zones are confusing the life out of me. You know, in the middle of the Pacific, there is something called as the International Date Line. My ride to the hotel had a super helpful chauffeur who fed me a ton of information about everything under the sun. How to rent a place, where to go for the weekend and why 99 cents is my best bet to save money. :)

Went to this supermarket called Ralphs. Roamed around in the meat section for quite a while. You know how Bongs get soothed by the sight of all things non vegetarian. :P You would love the fruits and vegetable section. Bought a bag full of fruits. You'd be proud. ;) Not many people seem to walk here. Pavements are quite empty. Looks odd. Crowded streets and all the honking has a sense of familiarity, while silence might take a while to get used to.

The hotel room has me befuddled. I couldn't turn on the tap or the light! Driving housekeeping folks (esp. Francis who is the reception guy) insane over the simplest of things.Quit a blot on intelligent Asians.  :D Within a day, I realized that mothers have the best foresight! After fighting tooth and nail about how I don't want to carry a plate or a spoon, I figured it would have been darned handy to have them around. Thank god she packed in scissors any which way. I would have taken a very long time to open that pack of turkey cold cuts otherwise.

Moving cities and continents, like you said, is herculean. But, right now it seems alright. That is, if I don't think about the house hunting and the driving license and all the other knick knack work that comes with a new place. So right now, while I munch on a cold turkey sandwich (with the divine kasundi dad bought) and watch Captain Phillips, it seems manageable.

Must try sleeping now. Failing the how to beat jet lag lesson.

Oh I have found a Starbucks two blocks away (yes I have started using blocks and miles :)). They make good white chocolate mocha.

More tomorrow. :)