Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Has Frog Been Doing?

1. Getting her New Jersey driving license

How she did it: Waited and waited, procrastinating until the day before her Indian license and IDP were about to expire. Then spent a night reading the NJ motor vehicles manual, before running to the testing center in the morning. Took the knowledge test (multiple choice questions) and vision test (unless you're totally blind, this shouldn't be a stumbling block).

Aside: The cool thing about NJ is that if you have a long driving history in in some other country, and you pass your knowledge test OK, they can waive the road test - as they did in my case.

2. Digging her rental car out of 20 inches of snow.

Two and a half hours on a Sunday afternoon. Charming weekend. And to really provide us with a challenge worth sinking our teeth into, every hour or so, after all of us trying to liberate our cars had more or less cleared the snow behind it, the snow-plough would come back and push all the snow from the road into banks behind the cars.

3. Buying a car.

How she did it: She shopped around for weeks. She spoke to dealers, did some test drives, searched the web desparately for the cheapest cars, certified used cars at reasonable mileage and prices, and despaired. And finally, she walked into a dealership, test drove this one car, and said, OK, that's it, here's my cheque. Or, you know, here's 10 bucks, and I'll get a loan for the rest and come back and pick the car up.
So anyway, my 2006 Honda Civic LX will be with me on Monday! Woohoo!

4. Attendant hassles:

The problem is, when you buy the car, you need to buy insurance. And for these guys, no driving history in the US = no driving history whatsoever. (To be fair, perhaps records are not easy to access - and it's difficult to believe that there could be a driving record for each licensed driver in India. Still, in one's nastier moments, one tells oneself that this is the same mind-set that calls a national event "the world series".) Which means, high premiums. *sigh* But, the silver lining - the insurance business is not all about making money - there are caring insurance professionals out there. Like one guy Frog spoke with, who told her he wasn't comfortable giving her the NJ state minimum coverage because what if she got in a collision and got sued for more, and had to pay it all herself? No no, he'd feel really bad if that happened, knowing he'd OKed the coverage, and so he was going to give her higher coverage and (of course) charge her higher premiums. Frog almost broke down and cried, at how this individual was shattering all myths about insurance professionals. Then she told him where he could put his premiums and rung off.

5. Traveling. Like fury.

Hurrying from meeting to meeting, whirling across the east coast like a ... well, hurricane, she guesses.
See also: waiting around at airports for delayed flights, waiting around at airports for someone to provide some information about whether the flight I'm scheduled to take is just delayed, or has disappeared into the blue, waiting on board flights for delayed take-off, waiting on flights circling airports to be cleared to land, waiting at airports for connecting trains. NB: A margarita, taken just at the point where the waiting is beginning to climb over the hill of bearability and grab you by the throat, preparatory to making you grab someone else by the collar, is wonderfully calming!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Movie Recommendation of the month: Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain, based on a book by Pullitzer prize winning author Annie Proulx, is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. It's not that the story's so unusual - after all, it's a love story, and what could be more common? OK, so it's a love story involving two people of the same sex, but that's not unusual either.

It's just that the evolution of their connection, from spark to romance to tenderness to angst and resentment, all the while growing stronger, is shown so beautifully. And the starkness of the story against the starkness of the landscape - a land where men are men, not "queer"s - gets under your skin and nestles there, refusing to leave. One viewing will not be enough. (I'm headed back to the theatre this weekend.)

Powerful performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. I know nothing about direction, but if the Director's job is to get the movie to pull you in and get under your skin, Ang Lee has worked wonders.

This is not a movie review. It's just that I can't stop myself from writing about this movie. Even though I can't seem to find the right words to describe it. So go watch.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You Know You're Becoming American When...

... Someone asks you how much she has to pay for the gas this month, and you say, "Gas? But we just filled the tank on the way to work."