Initial footprints in Los Angeles
Moving into a new place and a new environment where the people, the society, the way of being, the order and many other things are different is quite an experience. I don’t know exactly how to describe such an experience. It surely involves difficulties and hardships, but at the same time does bring a certain degree of fun and also teaches something that stays with us for an eternity. The first experience of such a kind happened to me four ago when I joined my college for my under graduation. But today I realize that what happened four years ago was just drizzle that precedes a torrent shower. Who knows, what I am going through today can also be a drizzle of a slightly higher intensity and the rainstorm is yet to begin. Just two different adaptations in the past four years and now I know there are lot more to come. I am looking forward to those with eagerness and also with some nervousness.
Moving into Los Angeles and settling in there was one hell of a task. I haven’t settled in completely, but for anyone who happened to know my situation 10 days ago, would now consider me well settled in this new surroundings. America is kind of weird, or it appeared to me like that. But I do believe that I will change this opinion very soon. On the 4th of August I left my country to the USA to pursue my Master’s in the University of Southern California. Before coming to this place I was really excited about the fact that I was about to move into Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the world, one that is buzzling with activities of all kind and more importantly the city of Hollywood. It was nothing less than a grand send off with people from my family coming to the airport to see me off. I could probably see them again only after two long years. But I do believe it won’t be “long” years, for the last four years of my life in college went just like that. Just before I could realise that my days in college are going to get over, I was back home after giving my final exams. I am optimistic that these two years that are about to come in my life will also be so event packed and fun filled that I don’t realise them passing.
Landing in Los Angeles was preceded by something that I dread even now. Thirty hours of flight is not a simple thing and it really took a toll on me. These thirty hours did include two transits in between but even then it is not as easy a flight travel may sound. I started from Chennai and flew towards London. I was provided with breakfast and lunch in that flight. After a two and half hour break in London, I set flight for New York, where I was again provided with lunch. But even though this lunch coincided with my dinner I still found it a bit weird. However, better part of this journey was that I was upgraded to the business class, which did permit me to sleep with my legs stretched. The leg space available in the economy class of the international flights is miserly and wasn’t adequate at all for a long trip. An omni bus operating during nights in Tamil Nadu are much better when it comes to leg room .I landed in Los Angeles around 11.30 on the night of August 4th (Pacific Standard Time). I was provided with a temporary accommodation for 3 days at a senior’s house. I am really grateful to the hospitality of those people and they were really helpful and guided me through the steps that I have to go through immediately after arriving at LA.
My first task was to find a place to live. I did arrive without making any arrangements for my accommodation here in Los Angeles. I do have reasons for that, but it would have been better if I had made some plans before coming. The task of finding a house had some pre-requisites, not technically but practically. I badly needed a phone as I need to call apartment managers and ask them if they have any vacancies. Opening a bank account was also a necessity and that too immediately. So my first 2 days in LA went in getting a phone, opening a bank account and having my Passport verification done at the university. International students will be issued the university ID only after the verification of the passport. Once I was done with these I started looking out for a house, along with another guy whom I met during my visa process. We are now staying together with another person who joined us later. We did figure out that we had to knock at each and every door, call up every number that we see on a “Now Leasing” banner, ask as many people as we can to stand a chance at finding a house. We went and met many apartment managers and called up many of them over the phone. “Sorry, we don’t have any vacancies”. “Sorry, we are sold out for this term” were the common replies from almost every one of them. Americans adhere strictly to their working hours. They don’t take business calls after their office hours, which mostly come to an end around 5 or 6 in the evening. We did find some places with vacancies. One was very huge and out of our budget, one was really shabby, some were big enough to accommodate 5 or even 6 people. Leasing out a bigger apartment would require us to find few other people to share the space. I was pretty confident of finding people and did in fact find few more people to share house. All thanks to Facebook. It seriously did help students in their search. Two days went by and I still couldn’t find a place to move in. On the third day I found that the number of people roaming around the University park area in search of a house started increasing and there was an instant were three separate parties were visiting the same house at the same time and every one of them were interested or rather desperate to sign the lease. I was able to sense that things would get worse in the days to come. I don’t know what made me go back to a manager to ask her if we could accommodate one more person than they initially agreed to allow, so that the rent share would come down to a reasonable amount. She however didn’t agree to our plea, but did spill a word about a 1 bhk house that was up for grabs. As we were coming out of that house after looking at it, we say 3 more people, more importantly Indians waiting for their turn to have a look around. We didn’t require time to put some thought. The moment we saw the people waiting outside, we knew that we are going to take this house. An instant phone call to the manager and a run back to the leasing office settled the things for us.
The house was indeed a good one. A hall specious enough for 3 students, a comfortable and fully equipped kitchen space, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet, a neat bath were its components. To add to these is a fully centralised temperature control system. Signing of the lease was indeed a huge sigh of relief.
On the next day we saw another bunch of students from India reporting at the place of my temporary stay. My temporary stay expired the previous day and I am supposed to move out of the place. The house manager however needed 3 more days before she could hand over the house to us. Fortunately another guy or rather a friend allowed us to stay in his house till our new house is ready for move in. By this time we had found a third guy to share the house, and this didn’t take time at all. A single post in Facebook was followed by a number of incoming calls. As I was about to leave the place where I was staying temporarily for the past three days, I just asked those guys who had just arrived if they have found a place to live. And the answer was a simple “NO”. I was not able see the reaction on my face at that moment. I don’t know if they had.
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