First Impressions (July 20, 2007)

Our thank-God-he-is-in-Singapore friend Niraj said ‘welcome to the unreal world’. I thought he was exaggerating. Boy was I wrong!

It started with Singapore Airlines. WOW! Everyone from the check-in clerk to the gate staff to the flight attendants was polite, courteous and actually happy to serve the passengers. Changi was a little gaudy but it is CARPETED! Immigration took five minutes. And the officer actually said “Happy Birthday in advance”! I had to ask him to repeat it because my ears couldn’t believe it! After the ‘warm and welcoming’ folks at JFK this was UNREAL indeed!

And what about Milind? Oh, he was there with a big smile and huge bouquet of orchids. Really? Nah! Just like the other time he was supposed to pick me up at JFK (when I moved to NYC) he was late.

At 7am the city looked lovely. All man-made but lovely. Multi-colored bougainvillea and lush green trees lined the roads into the city.

The apartment now is a slightly different story. When I moved to NYC, Milind had been staying in 14C for more than a year so it was a fully functional place and I only had to enhance it. Now the place here is beautiful no doubt (the bedrooms have hardwood floors!!!) but we have only four walls and 33 boxes of stuff we shipped from NYC. Right now I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work it needs. And I have 9 days. Is there a Bed Bath & Beyond-equivalent here? What about Home Depot? Where do I buy furniture? Thank God I brought a Crate & Barrel catalogue for ideas. Should have brought all the 20,000 I have been saving for the day I would have a place like this!

The grocery store was a little demoralizing. In a new place you try to find familiar names and faces (in this case brand names and labels). Early in my NYC days I would go to buy crackers and come back empty-handed because I was overwhelmed with the variety of crackers available. Now I’ve gotten so used to the variety and words like Organic, All Natural, Whole Grain, Vegetarian, Low Fat, Lite, etc. that I was quite disappointed to find only Low Sugar and Low Cholesterol not to mention the new set of products – several types of tofu, interesting looking fruits, etc. (This sounds so shallow now that I’m reading it but first impressions are first impressions!) Well, I started with the basics today (Jul 20) – eggs, cheese, bread, OJ, a little cilantro, an onion, a small bell pepper, ketchup. All the fixings for a hearty breakfast tomorrow.

Oh yeah, before I forget, it is HOT!

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