We now switch time zone to go back to the first couple of weeks in the US...
Pulled up by a cop
We used to take the cab to office initially since I wanted to get used to the traffic before I started driving. One chilly night, it got late in office - pretty much everyone had left by 6pm. Over here in case you wanted to work longer people tended to go home and work rather than sitting up late in office. Our cabbie was going through a different route and I had no clue where we were; even my friend who is pretty attentive to the routes being taken found it hard to follow. At one point on the highway, we slowed down and switched to lane 2 from lane 1 (the leftmost lane). And all of a sudden I saw flashing lights behind us - it was a cop car and the cab pulled over to the right side of the street.
I had heard people saying that you are not supposed to step out of your car when a cop pulls you over. The cop came to the driver’s side window and gestured him to step out of the car. My viewpoint was similar to that in a movie - I couldn’t see the cop’s face but could only see up to his shoulder via the window. It appeared like the cabbie was let off with just a warning.
Once he returned, he apologized to us for the delay. And as he drove, he poured to us his life story. About his girlfriend and how she was on medication that would sometimes drive her nuts - she called the cops one night while all he was trying to do was help her by restraining her; the cops came and initially thought that it was a fight; on learning the truth they said they had to arrest someone and he volunteered. My friend and I were cautious with our replies - with strangers you never know how they might react to what you say; safe bet is to just listen and not make any judgements or comments.
Speed signs are a little odd on the highways; though it says 60 miles per hour as the limit our cabbie was going beyond that and other cars were going faster than us as well. Our cabbie was pulled up because he slowed down on lane 1, the fastest lane. You are supposed to use lane 1 to overtake others.
Cooking is an art!
For dinner I would come home and do the cooking; my friend wasn’t very interested in cooking related work but I did enjoy it - I liked to try different things with the limited resources we had. I learnt how to make sambar from a colleague online - one of the key ingredients is tamarind; and the tamarind we had didn’t have any smell or taste. The first time I tried making sambar, it didn’t have any taste either and I wondered if it was because of the tamarind - that was when I realized that a little salt can make a world of difference; it suddenly tasted pretty good.
My friend loved noodles but he had it plain - boil water, dump the noodles, throw in the masala (chicken masala!) and that was it. I liked to add boil vegetables, stir fry onions, toss them all into the boiling water along with the noodles and even add ketchup - I didn't like using the masala provided.
Morning breakfast was cornflakes and bread - we tried different varieties - plain, brown bread, multi grain, brown bread multi grain but it was the plain one which tasted the best! Milk and eggs were great and so were mushrooms. Mushrooms were juicy and the first time I cooked the mushrooms there was quite a lot of gravy that collected in the pan - and the gravy tasted great with plain rice. We had a disaster trying dosas - it was the first time we tried to buy something from an Indian store that was nearby; some dosa mix that was ready to pour and eat. It seemed very old to me but we were keen to try dosas and bought it. It was a total disaster - I managed to pour one after a lot of struggle with the pan and my friend ate it; the dosa mix had a very pungent smell and there was no use of adding milk and water. That was the first and last time that we bought anything from the Indian store - vegetables, rice and even dhal (lentils) we bought from Market Basket (an American supermarket chain).