The US Travelogues - The Broken Key

I know, you wont believe it after my third post in row that it was not on my agenda to write about US in such undisguised complaining manner but things that have happened to me in US so far can be categorized as either Embarrassing, Exhausting, Frustrating or Boring.

What happened today is however special because it can be categorized under all of the above.! ;)

The day i was deemed Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics by Mumbai University, I was half independent and was almost walking four inches above the ground.
The day i cleared my first ever interview in Patni Computers, i was three fourth independent and was on cloud nine.
The day i flew over to US on an Air India plane, i was well above the cloud, physically and mentally.

I was going to be cent percent indepedent. I will have house of my own (however rented) and my own Car (though i cant drive to save my neck!) and my own saving (for the extravaganza called wedding that would take place two years from now). I will cook myself (however life threatening that might sound), i will take my own decisions (whether to buy Roma Tomatoes or simple assorted tomatoes, A pack of 6 toilet rolls or 24!!! BLAH)

It didnt happen the way it was planned.

I am as far from being independent as Earth is from Sloan Galaxy - a whopping 13 Billion Light Years!!
I can not move around without a car. I so wanted to visit Barnes & Noble ( i know its just a book shop but book shops are to me what a candy shop is to a kid) so i risked my precious life and crossed 3 free ways tp get there.
I loved eating at Swapna Indian Cuisine at Cumberland Pkwy but couldnt go there unless someone else wanted to cause i bloody freaking cant drive!!

I had never felt so handicapped before in my life. I am born and brought up in Bombay. Like any other town girl i am used to be on my own from early age. Taxi-Train-BEST-Walk. i never needed a car of my own even if it was there at my disposal. I never had to put people in sticky spot by nudging them into offering me a ride in their car.
I never had to keep tab on who was moving out when so that i could hurridely pack my bags and wait for them near their cars so that they would not feel even more embarrassed by forgetting that i was supposed to be called before leaving. I would rather be embarrassed myself!

This was still OK till the time it was me and my roomies. Today this dependency of mine (or rather ours) dragged Nilesh in a rather costly mess.
We needed a ride to Bank of America which is just a stones throw away from our place (By American standards, when they drive at around 40 miles/hr). We thought to walk our way to the bank but its blazing in Dallas. Its 102 F outside and we care for our future husbands and wanted to keep our complexion at its minimum best (#$%%^) so we thought to request Nilesh to drop us off. He generously agreed.

We reached Bank of America when they were six minutes to close down all tellers. We sorried (as is customery in US even if you step on your own feet and howl in pain!!). A teller welcomed me and my cheque was deposited in less than a minute with absolutely no paperwork (Plus he didnt give me Its-Nearly-The-Time-We-Left-What-The-Hell-Were-You-Doing-Earlier look thats guarenteed in India even if you reach when there is still time for Bank to close.)

We were done in fifteen minutes. Went outside as we saw Nilesh driving back to the parking lot. He was searching grounds and we first thought he had dropped his monies but he hadnt. The car key - The Ignition Key to be precise was broken. The Darn-Moronic-Idiotic key was not only broken but a major chunk was jammed inside the ignition. Nilesh looked harried with key. We looked harried with our own bad luck.

Our plan was all set.

- Finish off work in Bank of America.
- Invade Indian Grocery shop for Rice (that didnt feel like glue while eating) and Tur Dal.
- Getting lost in Walmart to shop for absolute necessities.
- Go back home and play Sonu Nigam - KK - Falguni Pathak - Shakira - Linkin Park - Himesh Reshamiya (Ashiq banaya aapne only!) etc on full blast while we chattered, ate.
- Take a long afternoon siesta.
- Groggily wake up and cook elaborate dinner (Jira Rice, South Indian Speciality Sambhar, Mix Vegetables, Papad) for the party that was called for dinner tonight (and who very nervously and adventurously had agreed)

We tried pinning out the jammed remainings of the key which turned futile after some time. (It is atleast not as easy as removing dirt from your ears using earbuds!ewww)

So went the phone lines busy and a whole party turned up at Bank of America. Leon, Chelsea, Suhail, Sajid, Abdul (and after an extended invitation, Sachin)
They got toolbox with them and we thought it was manageble with so many drive-crazy people but it wasnt.
We were standing in scorching sun and so were all the guys. Each one of them tried their own trick which did not work.
Me, Devi and Shyamu looked at each other and shared a Bakra-about-to-be-minced look. We had managed to rub our bad luck off on the car and its darned key. Keys get lost, Keys get locked in, Keys are left behind but keys dont break into two pieces!!! not in US of A atleast! :(

We settled ourselves on the green well kept (before our behinds touched it) lawn. We had no other choice.
If the sun had to fry us, let it fry the whole of us or else we would have ended up looking like Ross when his Tan went wrong in Missisipi One, Mississipi Two. Lolz.

Meanwhile Chelsea saved the day for us and turned from a sober & coy child into a pink charmer. We played around with her for quiet some time. Her pink toy lawn mower was cute.(was it vaccum cleaner.. god knows). We shooed away bugs, clapped, ate french fries, drank Coke (thanks to Devi & Shyamu)
and then we did what every and i mean every average Indian does at the first strike of opportunity. We played Antakshari in our kept-for-the-best-occassion voices. We dished out songs after songs as if we were stranded on a beautiful island and were getting paid for it.

Meanwhile Goras were coming in and out of the Bank ATM and giving us rather reproachful looks. Guys didnt notice because they were busy
- Discussing why and how the key must have broken.
- Calling Mechanic who was overbooked no less than Tom Cruise.
- Calling him names as he asked them random stupid questions.
- Checking out hot american babes using bank ATM. ( an Oasis in the desert of having a broken car and three moronic girls sitting crosslegged on grass and singing Tu-Tu-Tu-Tutu-Tara as loudly as humanly possible)

There were few Indians who came, gave us withering Thats-Why-Indians-Are-Looked-Down-Upon look and left in their Volkswogen (May God turn your Cars into Salvage on your next Carfax!!)
As bird of same feather i expected them to atleast ask what was wrong if not flock together! But they did not.

We were in picnic mood and songs were literally gushing out of us as if the urge of playing Antakshri was supressed by the so called American rightousness. As we started getting more and more such atrocious looks from Indians and Americans alike we turned even more rebellious and sang the Bihari-est songs that we could recall... ( Naam kya hai.. pyar ka mara..Ghar ka pata do - Dil hai tumhara Kya karte Ho..Tumse Pyar with all the sound effects we could portray)

One good thing that happened was that i learned a whole babysitting process. Right from giving into their kido demands, playing boo-boo with them, feeding them food, making them drink without spilling the whole thing on them or choking them, Taking them to Bathroom, Crooning and rocking them to sleep etc etc.
Felt almost motherly. I have promised Chelsea that next time she visits my place, i would apply nailpaint to her kiddy nails and toenails. Lets see when i can fulfill that.

Had to walk atleast half a mile before we could see a darn waste-bin to get rid of garbage with us.

Had Nilesh not suppose to pay $75 (if only key is faulty) or $250 (if Ignition needs to change) and half the indian population at Frankford trying to rescue us, it would have looked very comical the way the divide was - very Indian, very Gender specific, Very comical if not too frustrating.
The Aurat Jaat i.e. Me Devi and Shyamu sitting on lawn, feeding Chelsea, playing with her while singing outrageous hindi songs inbetween and The Mard Jaat i.e. Nilesh, Sajid, Abdul, Sohail, Leon, Sachin fixing the Car.

All the guys very gentelmanly suggested for us to leave while offering a car that would drive us to home but we refused. We had very perfectly managed to align our dimwitted planets with theirs so we would rather be together and face the frustration all the same. ( I am sure guys wanted us to stop singing so shamelessly and crudly and leave them alone in peace to decide the further action plan)

Finally we all left the poor car in the parking lot as mechanic had agreed to show up at 10.30 to fix it up. As we stepped in we three were feeling same i guess. (have not confirmed this with either Devi or Shyamu but still)

- It was a beautiful Saturday completly ruined as we reached home at around 8 in the night.
- Afternoon siesta was spent in Rice Box opening Fortune Cookies.
- Everyone had forgotten about the dinner we had planned tonight (ofcourse it was the lesser evil of the two)
- We were frustrated at our dependency and to what level we could drag those who offered to help us in the rut that our bad luck puts us into time to time.

We have said sorry before and its heartfelt. We felt sad for Nilesh more than we felt for ourselves.
so (if this helps) i would like to offer a public apology to all those who came to rescue us for the fateful call that i made this morning to have Nilesh drop us at BOA.

Sorry Guys and Thanks!


  1. Poor Nilesh.. he loves his car soo much!
    As for Chelsea.. she is a dear !

    and shame on you Aurat Jaat.. atleast one of you could have shown interest in the happenings and tried to understand ? :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Aparna,

    Believe me. We saw his love clearly on his face and felt guilty as hell for drawing him out on a saturday afternoon.

    and well The Mard Jaat was covering the whole thing so closely that we had nothing to see or listen.
    Car-talk is gibberish to us.. ;)
    and we also were afraid in case we irk them any more than what we already had done.. so we kept quiet (for some time) and let them take over what is their forte.. lolz