Archive for March, 2008

A day in the Garden State

For the uninitiated, New Jersey is also called the Garden State. Now, in the last post, I wrote about how we reached at Ankit’s Place. After taking a nap from 7:00am to 2:30pm, we finally woke up to the 1000th snooze of the alarm! Getting ready took another 1:30 hrs. The weather was very good with chill winds and low temp of around 5-6 deg. I was feeling bad because I had missed the snow by just two days. But anyways, we went to the Jersey City to get sum stuff and buy a mobile. I got my supply of Indian food to get me through the upcoming food shortage that I’d be facing in LA. With that done, we went pillar to post in search of a mobile and a phone connection. In US, everyone has a constant service provider and mostly post-paid connection(s). So, the situation was pretty bad. But we finally settled on a T-Mobile plan for 50$ per month. Now, the only problem was a mobile. Finding one turned out to be a real pain in the neck. It is only then I realized the difference between your own country and ‘paraya pardes’!!

We could not find the mobile, so it was decided that it’d be purchased in LA. I had a flight the next morning, so we had some food outside and came straight back home.

Rest of the time was spent chatting and we went to sleep!

The next day was one full of adrenaline rushes!!! But who knew!

Read the next post to find out more….

Next Stop: The Times Square!!

We boarded the train to go the the NY Penn Metro Station on our way to New Jerseypath station, Ankit suggested the idea of going for a walk at the Times Square which is in Manhattan, NY. So, it was decided and we got off the train at the nearest station to Times Square. With two large bags (total 60kgs) and a huge back-pack, we climbed two staircases to reach the ground level. We exited and I found myself standing at the Times Square. It was an amazing sight with XXL Billboards and XXXL Buildings and not to mention the fact that every single THING was lit up with endless no. of bulbs. This was the condition at 2:30 in the night. We walked on the 42nd street. I saw what I had been hearing about for years… Broadway theater, Madam Tussad’s (Wax) Museum (With wax statues of Nicholas Cage and Opera Winfrey in the window displays!!!), Ripley’s ‘Believe it or Not!’ building and ofcourse, Mc’Donalds. times squareWe had a snack at Mc’D and then walked to the place where America welcomes its New Year (remember those visuals on your TV from NY showing thousands of people gathered for New Year?). We saw Macy’s and Virgin Store and mind you, we had walked for almost a mile to reach the (end?) of Times Square (this square is biiiiggg!). It was really irritating to walk back all that distance to reach the Metro station to New Jersey. But, so we did! I was tired but nevertheless, it was a great feeling to be sitting at the underground metro station at 4:00 in the night, waiting for the train and with the visuals of Times Square in the head! The train came, we boarded and an hour later, we were in Jersey (the garden state). A quick cab ride brought us to the doorstep of Ankit’s house at Mulock Place in Harrison.

We dragged the luggage to the second floor apartment and all I could possible do at that point was to get a good sleep. And so I did.

More on how my time in Jersey and NY was spent in next post…

Helllooooo New York!

Finally, the announcement was made. We had been flying over the outskirts of NY whenny city at night01 I woke up. All I could see was an endless array of light bulbs glowing as if a billion lightening bugs were neatly stacked in blocks of varying sizes! The expanse of New York City was something that I had neither seen nor imagined. It was 1145PM on 03/Mar NY time. Our flight landed at the John F. Kennedy International Airport 5 mins later. Seeing the JFK made me realize that the Delhi Airport needs another 100 years to even come close to what JFK is today!

JFK02Anyways, we walked through the corridor towards the immigration counter, only to find a line for immigration. As I stood there waiting, I could feel my heart race with excitement about how I was finally here in US, my plans for the next two months and a million other things!! The gentleman at the immigration called out for me, asked why I was here and a few questions later, I was stamped for a max. stay of SIX months in US!!

I had to wait for half an hour for my luggage to arrive, the reason for which, as one could imagine, was that my bags would’ve been placed perhaps at the bottom of the whole stack as I was one of the few people on the flight who were flying from New-Delhi to New York. All that time was utilized in thinking and drafting an emergency backup plan in case my bags didn’t arrive at all!!! (hehe!) Guess what… it takes $3 (Rs. 120) for luggage trolley!! (All I could manage for this was… wtf!!)

I then reached the customs counter, which took away a pre-filled form, JFK01asked if I was carrying any food (No points for guessing the answer) and then, I was finally in the USA. I took an AIRTRAIN to the Howard Beach Station. It was an awesome experience riding in a train (slightly smaller than Delhi Metro) which runs on an elevated track (almost making you feel as if in air and hence the name). My friend (Ankit) had come to pick me up. It was getting late (around 1:30AM) and we decided to take a train to reach his house in New Jersey.

More in the next post!

Delayed by FIFTEEN HOURS!!!

(Continued from the previous post…)

So, we boarded the next flight from Abu Dhabi to JFK, monkey shocked!New York. The time was around 2:00AM. Just as the captain gave instructions for the crew to prepare for take-off, the window on my side became fogged up. I could barely see the outside. The camera on the In-flight entertaiment system showed heavy rain and dense fog which had suddenly appeared in a span of a few minutes!

The next announcement was made half an hour later which told all the passengers that there has been an unexpected storm at Abu Dhabi and that no flight could take off till the weather clears. So, we were asked to deboard the airplane and wait at the airport.

When the chart for rescheduled flights was displayed, we were shocked! They had, beyond any reasonable imagination, delayed our flight by FIFTEEN hours! So, now we could only take off at 5:30PM on Mar 03, 2008. shocked man!!I was…. what can I say (in most civilized manner i.e.!)…. aghast! Anyways, this time, the a**h***s from Etihad were least helpful and had NO answers to any of our queries and NO solutions to our problems!! We were told that the accommodation will be arranged at 7:00 in the morning. Meanwhile, we were given an option of having snacks in a 4star restaurant at the airport. So, after the snacks and hours of waiting, I received a room at the AIRPORT HOTEL (which, to my surprise, turned out to be a five-star and a quite luxurious one at that!!). We were offered complimentary lunch (which was okeish!). We boarded the flight at 5:30PM and the captain welcomed us onboard. The plane headed to the taxiway, all set to fly the skies of New York..

More in my next post… STAY TUNED!


From New-Delhi to Abu-Dhabi

With so many things to be packed and so less time, it was expected to be a hefty schedule! So many clothes, food and what not! Since it was going to be my first trip to the US, I didn’t quite know what to put in and what to leave out. Anyways, after toiling hard for many days, 70 kilos of ‘stuff’ was packed into three bags and I was set to go!

I had a flight with Etihad Airways (the official airline of UAE) on 02 March (One might ask the question that why did I not take Air India or Jet Airways?Ethiad A340-600 Interior at night Well, these are 3-star while Etihad was 4, so I guess it was a safe bet!). The flight was on time and I bid India good-bye at around 11:30 PM IST. I was sitting with a gentleman from Amsterdam and since he was a globe-trotter and a fun-loving guy, we had a very interesting conversation. And yes, being from the drug capital of the world, he increased my knowledge about certain* things!! By the way, it was a wonderful flight with superb food and beverage** but a rather cold hospitality (not unexpected from a new airline!). We were right on time and landed at Abu-Dhabi at 11:30 PM (UAE time).

abu dhabi airport interiorThe airport was a beautiful sight with marvelous architecture. My next flight was in 2:30 hrs, so I went window shopping in the duty-free zone at the airport. I found out first hand that all that glitters in Abu-Dhabi is really really expensive. With all the ‘most-famous’ brands at disposal, it was a feeling that I had never experienced! Then… we boarded the next flight to John F. Kennedy Airport, NEW YORK at 2:00 AM (UAE time).

…. to be continued!