Chicago brings mixed memories of the first few months in an alien land. Best part was the baby time with lil’ Vikas. Both me and Rama were so happy without realizing it. It was always a pleasure store for us – each and every moment. It was fun taking him out for a stroll (not many as it was early November), or having friends over for a visit or visiting a friend. He was certainly a crowd pleaser with his ever happy smile and he won many men and women over!
One of my close friends Ranga was already settled in the Chicago suburbs and it was a pleasure having them over or visiting them. Ranga introduced us to this guy Ayrton, who was a driving instructor. Ayrton was East European and he had a distinct accent. His favorite instruction was ‘When I say left, you turn left’! He knew the driver’s license office very well. After a few lessons on the road, he took me through a route that he said was what the inspector would take me on. It was a pretty easy one, I just had to be careful to stop at the sign and not to stray off my lane while turning right. He had me practice parallel park. On the test day, Ayrton paraded me into the office with a huge box of doughnuts and well wishes to the staff. And he left me with the inspector. I went through the routine of adjusting my seat, the rear view mirror and eased into driving. It was a fairly easy test and at the end I parked into a slot – no parallel parking. I had passed!!
Once I got my driver’s license, I couldn’t wait to rent a car. On a Friday afternoon, Kee drove me and Biju to the Enterprise Rent-a-car. I got a red Escort which looked pretty cool. We were to drive back to work and then proceed to home later on. I was supposed to follow Biju as I wasn’t comfortable with the roads or direction. Young blood, I guess, made me want to try something while I hadn’t prepared best. The rental office was about two or three miles from work from what I remember. I followed Biju easily for the first two miles. The understanding was that I stay close to him. However I hadn’t thought about the signal! At one of these, it happened to be orange when Biju crossed and I didn’t want to race ahead. So I stopped. Once it was green, I started hoping to catch up with him. This is when I noticed the windows fogging and I didn’t know what the heck to do. Soon visibility was limited and I was wiping away the front glass with my hand. So I could only see better ahead. I was shaking with fear at this time and was even prepared for an accident. Luckily I saw Church Road ahead of me and I knew our work parking lot was right there. I pulled into the parking lot on the right. Usually Kee would park on the other side, but I was happy to finally come to a stop. I probably would have driven 1/2 a mile or a bit more without Biju leading me on, but that 10 minutes was one of the tensest moments I had experienced. This however prepared me for the future better.