Driving’s like riding a bike, but with more wheels

Damn, I forget to blog this morning, and all sorts of stuff starts happening!

Well, not really, but still…

Last night we went to my dad’s partner’s anniversary party. This is also the man who will be my boss for the duration of my employment here. My main motivation for going was to finally see Saumil again. For those of you who don’t know (and that would be… all of you), Saumil is probably one of my two oldest friends. Our families have been friends for at least 20 years. Plus, they moved from Houston to Baroda around the same time we did, so he and I grew up together. His life followed a somewhat similar path to mine, with the one difference being that he did his undergrad in India (IIT-Kanpur… but that’s a whole ‘nother story) before coming to the US for his Masters and work. He moved back at the beginning of the year to work with his dad, and he’ll be leaving next summer for business school. So, at least till then, I’ll have someone to do stuff with, even if we enjoy different things. Plus, and this is a key plus, he was the one that suggested we could go to party in Mumbai at least one weekend a month. For that alone, I love him.

Anyway, he was going to be there. It also gave me the chance to see all the other family friends’ kids. Now, I’m the oldest one in the group (I think). But it was still definitely weird to see these kids more or less grown up. And, I hate to say it, but the girls have all, bar none, turned out to be quite cute. However, as soon as that thought entered my mind, I immediately remembered that I used to know them when they were thiiiiiiiiis tall, and any thought of something happening was immediately replaced with the thought of “Ewwwwww!” Plus, to top it all off, the cutest one is the one who’s mom I’d least want to be related to. Not because she’s a bad person, mind you. She’d just be… a lot to handle. And no, I’m not naming names. ;

Incidentally, they were projecting the India-West Indies cricket match on a big screen at the party lawn. At the very end, West Indies were trying their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and it was funny to see everyone standing up in front of the screen (and yes, I was one of them). And as soon as they finally hit the winning shot, everyone turned away at once and started commiserating about how bad a loss it was for India, and how they screwed up. ;

On the way home, I got to drive Dad’s Camry. It felt kinda weird, since I was driving on the wrong side of the road, and it was a stick shift, albeit a powerful one. However, I did learn to drive in India, and the old instincts were just starting to kick in when we got home. Still, I much prefer the smaller car, which I got a chance to drive today.

After I walked/jogged 6 km with dad this morning, I kinda decided I wouldn’t be going into work today, especially since there isn’t really anything for me to do yet. I do need to get my computer reassembled (more on that later), but they’re working tomorrow so I’ll just go in then. After a late lunch, Roshni and I went to a couple of cell phone providers to compare offerings. Dad wants me to get Reliance, since we have a corporate plan and I’d get cheaper rates, but I wanted to see what the competition was offering. Unfortunately, the offerings weren’t very impressive. So, Reliance it is. And I’m gonna tell dad to get me a swank phone too. Might as well. Unfortunately, the Indian cell phone market is extremely confusing. They don’t have any “single monthly fee, X number of minutes” plans. You can get either a pre-paid or post-paid plan, and how much your bill amounts to depends on who you call, who calls you, and where both of you are located at the time. I’ll try explaining it once I understand it myself, if only to show you how frustrating it can be.

Afterwards, Roshni (who’d accompanied me) drove to the movie theater to meet her friends, and I got to drive my Indian baby (my American baby being my Honda) home. And even though it was only a couple of miles, it felt good. It’s a smaller, zippier car, and much easier to handle than the Camry, making it perfect (in my opinion) for Indian roads. And after seeing how many Santros are on the road, I think a lot of people here agree with me.

In about an hour, I’ll be meeting Adil , my other remaining buddy in town. We went to school together, and have been friends for… umm… 18 years? 19? Something like that. He works for the Times of India now, in an editorial capacity. He’s going to be my hookup into the interesting things to do and places to go in Baroda, including which of the new restaurants are worth checking out. Let’s see if he can introduce me to some cool people too.

Random Note: Forgot to mention this earlier. On Tuesday, while driving to Hemal’s engagement, my dad had mentioned that there was a new airline starting service in Baroda, called Indigo. And do you know what my first question to him was? I didn’t ask what the rates were. I didn’t ask what other cities it flew to. The first question out of my mouth was, “What’s their USP ?” I noticed it at the time, and thought it was interesting. Wonder if it means anything…


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