Once we settled down near Chicago having found an apartment, it wasn’t totally over as far as settling down. Kee would drop us off to work and shuttle us back. He would even help us out with shopping. Occasionally we would take a cab. After meeting Ranga, he would offer to drive us around. Immediately after our first ‘talk’ over the phone, he and Hema had come over to our place which was still bare of all furniture. We had planned the weekend ahead that Rama would stay with Hema at their home while Ranga would take me to Devon street for Indian groceries shopping.
It wasn’t before long that we decided that we should get a car. In a strange place not knowing the used car market, I didn’t want to risk anything. So I decided to buy a new car! One weekend Ranga took me to the Toyota and Honda dealers in Schaumburg, IL. I was nervous about driving in snow and hence decided that I should get something with ABS. At that time, sedans didn’t have all-wheel drive or maybe only Volvo had. But Volvos were out of budget. The next best thing was ABS. Only Honda had a car with ABS and I was thrilled about it. Everyone said you can’t go wrong with either. The following weekend, Ranga drove me and Rama (with Vikas) to the Honda dealership and we nailed the sale. My first car was going to be an expensive $18.5K car and with finance it would run into $21 over three years. I was surprised to find a bottle of wine in the backseat as I took the keys. Rama and Hema were home at our place. The plan was to meet and then drive to the temple in Aurora. As is custom with our culture, we had to take the car to a temple and get a pooja (offering) done and seek blessings before it real use. The temple was about 40 miles and it would be quite a drive. Rama and Vikas would go in Ranga’s car and I would follow.
From the dealership, I followed Ranga back to his home in my new car. He had given me directions. I tried not to lose sight of him this time as I had with Biju. But that didn’t work out. I was left to driving myself home. This was an interesting drive. Till that day, I was still nervous about the high-speed traffic on expressways and had avoided them all. As I started driving on Milwaukee, I took an earlier left turn only to find that I was on a ramp to the expressway (guess it was I-294). I knew that I shouldn’t back up on the ramp, so I went for it. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic as I picked up speed. Driving on an expressway is way much easier than on roads where you need to stop and turn often. Well, all this applies to new drivers only! I was wondering how far off from home I would end up driving and was concerned about my drive back. I soon saw a toll booth and asked the attendant naively where was the next exit. He said exit 10 to Gold Road was about 1/2 mile or so. I got off the exit and called Home from a pay booth. Fortunately I had coins which makes me wonder why I don’t carry coins now-a-days. Ranga gave me directions and it was not difficult to find my way home. But that drive stays in my memory as it was my first foray into high-speed driving! I think we ended up having Ranga drive to the temple in my car with all of us. It was a great evening with caring friends and family.