Circa 2001., my very first trip to the US. Only, back then, paper photos were very common. Within a week of landing in the US, I had bought a disposable camera, clicked pictures of my apartment as well as Davis from all possible angles, developed prints and dispatched them off home to India.
Based on my own experience, I bet within the next two weeks I am going to get more pictures from my cousin with captions like "Us in front of blah-blah building", "Me doing thingummyjig in Watsizname place" and so on :-)! Ah, been there, done that :-D!
Anyways, that got me thinking about a few of the interesting things that my friends and I did as first timers during the long process of adapting to a new country:
- Get totally into the spirit of cleaning. Pour water all over the bathroom floor. Only to realize that there is no outlet for the water to drain. Spend the next couple of hours manually mopping all the water up.
- Put aluminium foil inside microwave. And see a mini diwali take place inside the microwave.
- Have a bath in a bath-tub by just splashing water because couldn't figure out how to turn the darn shower on (turned out there was a ring around the water spout which needed to be pulled downward - seriously, does the average bather need to have a PhD in plumbing systems?)
- See a totally flat-topped cooking range in the kitchen while considering an apartment for rent. Anxiously ask apartment manager in concerned voice, "Oh, there is no stove! Do I need to buy my own stove?" And have the apartment manager say, "This is the stove!"
- Try to boil an egg in microwave. And see unboiled egg crack open in less than 10 seconds and ooze all the yolk out.
- Stand in the bus-stop, staring down the right side of the road, waiting for the bus to show up. And get startled when it arrives behind you, from the left side.
- Cook merrily in the kitchen for the first time and suddenly hear a strange continuous beeping sound. Have more experienced people in the house tell you that it is the smoke detector going off and that fanning the area beneath the detector would stop the beeps (having experienced people in the house when you hear the smoke alarm for the first time was a bonus. Otherwise copious blinking and confusion was guaranteed).
In Davis, a bunch of us had once gone for dinner to an Italian restaurant. All of us chose pasta entrees. These entrees came with a side. When the waitress came to take our orders, she asked each one of us "Soup or Salad?". Now, the waitress had a thick American accent and spoke pretty fast. When she got to R, this is how the conversation went.
Waitress (W): Soup or salad?
R (confidently): Yes, super salad.
W (confused): Would that be soup or salad?
R (confused too): Yes, I would like the super salad.
By then, the rest of us had grasped the situation. Evidently, R was hearing the options as either a yes or a no to having "Super Salad". While the waitress was hearing the menu options being repeated back to her. One of us could have helped out, but at that point, we were too busy clutching our stomachs and laughing. Finally, my friend S recovered enough to tell R, "She is asking you if you want a side of soup OR a side of salad." R then sheepishly told the waitress that he would take the soup.
Of course, after that incident, the rest of us always made it a point to solicitously ask R if he wanted to have "super salad" whenever we went out to eat :-)!