Life

10 years

I landed in the US for the first time on Jan 3rd, 2007, exactly a decade ago. Flew from Chennai to London to D.C, on British Airways. Donakaku picked me from from IAD and we went to his home in Richmond, VA. I stayed there for 4 days and landed in Minneapolis, MN on Jan 7th.

1487852173_253b881fce_o

Chennai International Airport, with my then roommates – Subhankar, Pari and Avik

1488709184_c0d49bf1de_o

IAD parking lot with my uncle

 

1488709274_4fae18eed1_o

Outside Star’s school

Advertisements
Categories: Life | Leave a comment

Selling our old house

He had a harrowing – at times felt like nightmarish – experience selling our house in Brooklyn Park. All it took was 11 months, 4 purchase agreements, 5 closing dates, and 2 real estate agents to get it done. And none of this was because the house was priced too high or had anything wrong with it.

We put in the house in the market on June 4, 2015, listed at $X thousand. We had renters in there at that point and the idea was to get it sold off by the end of the month so that we won’t incur any costs after the renters moved out when their lease ended in the end of June. Wishful thinking!

We had an offer on June 16, 2015, at $(X-1)thousand. We had our 1st signed purchase agreement on June 17, 2015. The buyer had the home inspection done, it came back with a couple of things, we corrected both. On June 26, we hear from our realtor that the buyer did not qualify for mortgage financing and the deal fell through.

The house stays in the market for the next couple months. We get calls from Canada about someone wanting to buy all-cash, though at quite a discount. We decline. A couple of lowball offers; we decline. We are in October now; summer is gone and we are tense. We get an offer for $(X-18) thousand. We accept. Second purchase agreement is signed on October 6, 2015. This buyer seemingly is better qualified than the first one in terms of securing financing for the purchase. The buyer conducts their own home inspection; we “fix” (very little to fix as now the inspectors are running out of things to find) whatever they ask for. On Oct 14, 2015 we hear from our realtor and this is her exact email:

Well I just got a phone call from the other agent, it appears the buyer has had a nervous breakdown!!!!  Yes I’m telling you the truth.  You could hold her to the PA but I don’t think it is in your best interest as she wouldn’t show up to closing it sounds like.  It sounds like she is going to Seattle to seek help and family!  I have never has this much go wrong with a listing in my life!!!  Call me when you can!  I am so sorry!!!

We then decide to take the house off the market. Before we do, we get an offer of $(X-26)thousand with a closing date of January, 2016. We decline and take it off the market. I can’t find the exact date when we had a new listing going on but let’s say around mid November. During the next 3 weeks we have plenty of showings and “positive” response from different sets of buyers but no formal offer. By the second week of December we were desperate enough to get back to the offer of $(X-26)thousand that came in October and see if they were still interested. They were! On December 15, 2015 we sign our 3rd purchase agreement for $(X-26)thousand, with a closing date of January 29, 2016. This buyer incidentally wanted a radon test to go along with the home inspection. The radon test revealed that the radon levels were higher; we fixed that for $1,600. All good.

On January 27, 2016 we hear that they can’t close on January 29 because of a “stupid date thing”. We are assured that the buyer’s financing will take only a week more and we will close on February 5, 2016.

On February 4 we hear from our closing agent that they heard from the buyer’s title company that they had not heard from the lender. When our realtor talks to the lender it was found out that they buyer has to go through underwriting again! We go back and forth for almost 2 weeks before we finally pull the plug on February 23 and sign the cancellation for the purchase agreement. We expire the listing and say bye to our realtor with whom we’ve worked with for the past several months.

The weekend of February 27-28 we embark on finding a new realtor by interviewing 4 individuals we think have a good handle on the Brooklyn Park market. End up going with the realtor who sold the house next to our old place (the one we’re trying to sell). The new listing goes live on March 4, 2016. We have 3 offers by March 5. We sign our 4th purchase agreement on March 7, for $(X-20)thousand and have a closing date set of April 22, 2016. The end is near, but not quite yet.

On April 20, 2016 we hear that there is a “minor loan issue” holding up the closing scheduled for two days later. We get washed over with feelings of disbelief and bewilderment and déjà vu. Our realtor vehemently tries to assuage our doubts that this time will be different (she knows about what we’ve been through with the other realtor). New closing date set for April 28, 2016. We spend 7 days and nights in mental agony.

And we do finally close on April 28. A BIG, red-lettered day for us. Vivian and I take half the day off and after the closing we go with our realtor to a bar to celebrate the end of a particularly trying chapter in our life!

 

Categories: Demystify, Home, Life | 3 Comments

It’s different this time around

This week I’ve been awash with emotions that I haven’t experienced in a long, long time. The last time I was anticipating a grade (or a number or a “marks”) on an exam was in my final year of college (2003). You can perhaps include the CAT percentile anticipation the next couple of years. Still that makes it almost a decade since I’ve had to wait to hear back on how I performed in a class.

I had enrolled for the first 2 classes in my MBA program this fall. The final grades for both the classes came this week. It was different this time around. I wasn’t having sleepless nights wondering if I might “fail” or not get acceptable grades. The fear, the apprehension, of waiting to hear my fate of my undergrad days were gone. Also was gone the almost physical tension that caused digestive issues.  I know that I had put in good work and would get a grade commensurate with the effort. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I would tell this though: just the sight of a “good” grade made me realize how much I was looking forward for the official affirmation.

How things change in a decade. And how still they remain the same.

Categories: Life | 2 Comments

3:30 pm

Ever felt that certain positions of the hands of the clock would leave indelible marks on your psyche, long  after their once-special relevance in your life?

My brother and I used to come back home from school around 2:30 pm. I used to heat up the food and then we both had lunch. Maa, who is a teacher, came home around 3:30 pm. I think she still does! We – at least I did, not sure about my brother – used to look forward to 3:30 pm, waiting for the doorbell to ring or the door to open from the outside. Maa used to open it with her key sometimes, to surprise us I think. So that’s the back story.

This year, starting in November I’ve been taking Fridays off, to burn through my yearly use-it-or-lose-it vacation days. On almost every day that I’ve been home alone (Brinda still goes to daycare as I get caught up on some work and chores), at around the 3:30 pm mark, I have caught myself looking at the clock, kind of wishing, almost half expecting, that my wife walked in with our daughter.

Eerily Pavlovian, isn’t it?

Categories: Home, Life | 2 Comments

Dadu Thamma

I have never met my paternal grandparents. They had both passed away before my parents were even married. In Bangla, paternal grandfather is Thakurda and paternal grandmother is Thamma. I have heard, and still hear, fond stories about my Thamma’s fabled cooking and of my Thakurda’s strict discipline, being enforced on my father and his siblings (the baton which later passed on to my Baba on Thakurda’s untimely demise). There were black and white portrait photographs of them in our ancestral home. And that was my remembrance of them.

The moniker Thakurda being of 3 syllables and harder to say, we decided to change that to Dadu (being traditionally the maternal grandpa) when we introduced Brinda to her (this set of) grandparents. My Baba and Maa came and spent almost 8 weeks us, and left last week. It was not the first time I had bade them good-bye. I’ve been out of my parent’s house, on and off, since I was 18 years old and not seeing them for extended periods of time has been accepted by my psyche as part of being a grown up. I feel sad when I leave them, or they leave me, but that is life.

But this time it was different. The way my parents connected with Brinda, and she with them, was unlike anything I had seen, but probably hoping for! She spent hours with her Thamma, in numerous ways – being sung to, being played with, being put to sleep, sleeping on Thamma. Dadu was her go-to guy when she either having a good time or was in one of her screaming fit. He would rock her, dance with her, talk to her and make her resume her ‘normal’ smiling self. When they left, I was feeling their sadness to leave Brinda and go home, and Brinda’s missing her Dadu-Thamma. Which is totally not something you think you’d feel. The sense of loss, the heart-break of leaving behind someone you love – of a third person. You read a poignant book or watch a nuanced movie and once in a while they move you to feel for the protagonists, unrelated to you. This is was happening in real life and it was magnified thousand times.

Baba-Maa – Brinda misses you!

Brinda – Dadu-Thamma loves you so much!

Categories: Life, We | 3 Comments

New-car buying process (and selling old car)

We bought a Nissan Rogue on the last day of last month.

Or let me put it this way.

We bought a new 2012 Nissan Rogue SV AWD, with premium package (with added splash guards and rear bumper protector), on 31st August.

Details matter. So does research.

Since we knew that Brinda was on her way into the world, we made the decision to sell off one of our sedans and get a compact SUV, for the most obvious reason: space. And also for the less-obvious reason of switching to an AWD vehicle (both our cars were FWD). Living in Minnesota, having AWD on all vehicles should be the law!

We decided to part ways with my Mazda6, as –   a) Vivian’s Accord is a Honda and Honda’s are …well, just plain Honda. Reliable.   b) The Accord gives better miles per gallon   c) Vivian is more comfortable with the Accord

Since neither of us had owned a SUV before this, or had a particular preference, I looked to the internet to get all the information I could. I have a spreadsheet in which all compact SUVs, across brands, are compared for:  * Comparably equipped price  * mpg  * power/torque  * Any promotional APRs (the closer to zero, the better it is)

Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outander,  Ford Escape and Subaru Forrester made it to my spreadsheet. The VW Tiguan did not, as it does not come in an AWD option. I have stopped considering GM as a viable option after they took government bailout, and declared bankruptcy, only to emerge from all this unscathed. Just the stockholders were left with their pants in their hands. I’m not going to distinguish Chrysler – even with Fiat taking over – with a comment.

In terms of the features, price, mpg, reviews – the CR-V was the clear winner and I was almost certain we’d end up with that. But we wanted to give all the vehicles a fair chance and armed with all these information, we started test driving these vehicles the last weekend in August. By the time Vivian finished her test drive of the Outlander (we went in order they were mentioned above), she knew the one she liked the best. The Rogue. Since this was going to be her ‘primary’ car, the Rogue is what we finalized on.

Now comes the part I enjoy. The actual pricing out of the car and the buying process!

The first step of the pricing-out process is already baked into the test drive stage.

1. For the test drive, go to the dealership from which there is a very little chance of your buying the car. You can know this by researching in your area, which dealerships offer ‘no worry buying experience’ or ‘one price dealership’ or such gimmicky catch-phrases. These places are the least likely to budge on the price. Go to one such rigid, high-faluting dealership and milk them.

2. After the test drives, once we finalized on the make/model/trim/package of the vehicle we wanted, I went and searched the inventories of all the other (except for the one I’d already been for the test drive) dealerships in my area. There are 5 more Nissan dealerships in a 30 mile radius. All of them had at least one vehicle which matched our specifications.

3. Then I sent out the following missive (or a slight variation) to each dealership, through their website.

Hi,

I am looking for a new 2012 Nissan Rogue AWD SV, with Premium Package.

I see you have 8 vehicles which match my criteria.

Edmunds says the Invoice price for this configuration is $25,144. I am also aware of the $500 Bonus Cash, the $500 NMAC Cash available from Nissan. I am also looking at the 0.9% 60 month financing from Nissan. I know I will qualify for this APR.

I will put down at least $10,000 as down payment. I’m looking to take possession by this weekend.

With all the above information taken into consideration, please give me your BEST price. Period. I will not negotiate with you on the price nor come back with another number. The price that you quote is the price that I will expect to pay you (plus TTL, which approximately comes to around $2000) if I buy from you.

So, to break it down:
I would expect the base price (A) and the TTL fee (B), with a total drive-off-the-lot price of (C = A+B).
I will put down $10,000. I will finance the rest (D=C-10,000) at 0.9% for 60 months, with monthly payments of E.

Please provide the numbers for A, B, C, D and E.

Just to clarify, I’m not looking at this exact vehicle that I requested the quote for, rather among all the vehicles that are in your current inventory or anticipated in near-future inventory.

Looking forward to your email response.

Carefully notice the following:

a. I did not provide my phone number. I only want e-mail communication. With e-mail communication, the facts and numbers are there in black and white in front of you. Also, the sales person has less opportunity to work his/her ‘charm’ on you, as with a telephonic conversation.

b. All rebate information and special financing offered by Nissan is documented in my mail. These information are readily available in the Nissan site (nissanusa.com) and the first dealership that I test drove the car, confirmed them as well.

c. Explicitly mentioned out is the fact that I was not going to play games with them, nor going to pit dealer against dealer. Neither was I willing to haggle with them over the price.

d. I just wanted 5 numbers.

e. My starting price point was the invoice price. Not the MSRP.

f. With all the above points, I wanted to convey that I was a serious buyer, looking to complete the transaction quickly.

3. Within 2 hours of my sending out these 5 mails, I had  responses, with all the 5 numbers I wanted, from 4 dealerships. The fifth one came in next day morning. With 6 quotes (5 through e-mail and the one from the test drive dealership), I was ready to hit the road. Literally.

4. As it would happen, the lowest quote (which was $200 less than the next best one; a whopping $2,500 less than the worst one!) was from a place just 5 mins drive from my work. The next day, I drove to this dealership closest to my work the first thing in the morning. The sales guy who had responded to my e-mail was not yet in, and I got hooked up with another guy. I had a printout of our electronic correspondence, and showed him. He skimmed over it, nodded and asked enthusiastically if I was ready to go out for a test drive. Now I was getting into my game.

5. When I contacted the dealerships through their website, I had to select a vehicle on which I was requesting a quote or wanted more information. On each site, I just selected a 2012 Nissan Rogue SV, with premium package, WITHOUT any other extra options or accessories. For this particular dealership I was actually eyeing another vehicle in their inventory, same 2012 Nissan Rogue SV, with premium package, but with couple of more options – rear bumper protector and splash guards – a $150 value. I suggested to this sales guy if we could take that other vehicle out for a drive instead of the one that I got the quote on. Of course, he said and out we went on a joy ride.

6. After coming back to his desk, I played my trump card. Calmly, looking directly into his yes, with a steady tone, my exact words were, “If you can give me the vehicle that we just test drove, at the price that was quoted in the e-mail, I will buy this car right now.” This guy looked at me, and quietly said, “Let me talk to my manager. I’ll be right back.” Five minutes later he comes back and says, “Yes, we can make that happen.” My car buying is done.

Take-aways from the experience.

1. Timing – time of the day, day of the month, month of the year – plays a crucial role in getting the best deal. Yes, dealerships have incentives on the total number of units sold in a month and will go (a little) out of their way to meet their numbers at the end of the month. Car makers usually have “holiday deals” around most major holidays. Labor Day, typically has more significance since the next year’s models are either on the lot or coming soon. Incentives abound to get the current year’s models out of the lot fast. Also, when I walked into the showroom early morning, I was the only customer in that dealership. The sales staff were focused and they had two very clear choices: start off their day on a real positive note, with an early sale; or not. I’m pretty sure if I had gone there an hour later, they would not have agreed to basically give me the added options for free.

2. Be firm in your tone – written, vocal and physical attitude, but mix that with courteousness. Develop your script before-hand and stick to it.

3. Research and get the facts! Truecar, Edmunds and KBB are all good places to know the MSRP, Invoice and actual selling price of the vehicle in your area. You’ll get to know how much rebates and incentives the car maker is offering (to all dealerships/customers) and you’ll get know if there something more the dealership is offering. Zero percent APRs ARE offered by car makers, or stay as close to zero as possible (0.9 is pretty close!). Compared to the lowest invoice prices that I could find on the internet, my base price (without TTL – taxes, title and licence – fees) was less than I could find anywhere, for the exact same model and options! 

4. Know exactly how much you are going to put as down payment. Know how much of the financed portion is going to cost you every month, for 60 months (or 36 or 48 or 72, or none at all if you pay cash!). Be aware of your credit score. You need not know the exact number, but you should know the range you fall in. [Check out your credit report, for absolutely free, once a year, from each of the 3 reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – from AnnualCreditReport.com – this is the ONLY legitimate site that offers the free option]

5. Don’t get stuck up either emotionally, on a particular vehicle/dealership/sales-person, or the non-essentials, like the colour of the car. Be prepared to walk away.

Whew.

That was half the fun. Now to sell my Mazda6.

I had taken it to a Mazda dealership and got the 50,000 miles (though it was technically a few hundred miles less than 50K) check-up done on the car – a $185 value. With this piece of printed paper, detailing what all is right (everything) with the car and what needs repair (nothing), I went to the sales floor of the same dealership and asked for a quote if I sold them my car today. No trading in or anything. Outright selling to the dealership. They gave me one.

Going back home, I pulled up the KBB value of the car. Now KBB values of used cars comes in 2 broad different categories: What my current car is worth, and, What should I pay for a used car.

“What I should pay for a used car” basically is what a dealership will sell you my car for, after I’ve sold it to them. With a jack-up of a few thousand dollars. If they can make it a Certified Pre-Owned (Certified Pre-Owned, another scam, which is like a divorced person saying, “I was already married, you know I’m certified pre-banged”!), then raise a couple of thousands more.

Trade-in value and Private party seller are the 2 values you’ll get under “what my current car is worth”. Dealers will pay you the trade-in value, no matter if you’re trading in or not. Why I did not trade in my car for the new vehicle is this: then they have 2 numbers to play around with – the price of the new car and the worth of the old car. Private party sellers are the general population to whom you can directly sell the car.

The quote my Mazda dealership had given was a pretty good one. It was just a little below the “excellent” (out of excellent, very good, good and fair) trade-in value of the car suggested by KBB. But, I was looking for more. Close to the private party excellent value.

With this thought, I put out ads in Carsoup, Craigslist and Local files. In the ensuing days, I got calls from prospective buyers. In the meantime, I also took the car to a couple of other dealerships, just to get few more quotes. Those quotes were far below the initial quote from my local Mazda jig.  After a couple of showings to regular people (“private party”), I finalized on a deal which was $1,600 more than the best dealership offer.

There, this ends my longest blog post till date.

Categories: Demystify, Economics, Life | 2 Comments

Brinda Rose

So, Vivian and I have new names now – Mom and Dad; Maa and Baba.

Ok, the vital stats first:

Name (first middle): Brinda Rose (more on that in another post)

Born: June 23rd, 2012 at 7:54 pm Central time

Weight and length: 7 lb 7.2 oz (3.4 kg), 20.3″ (51.5 cm)

Brinda wasn’t due till June 28th, but she came last Saturday. Incidentally (Fate’s sadism showing through?), I was out on a bachelor party on Friday evening. Now, this fact is of grave importance. Not the bachelor party itself, but the fact that I returned home at 2 am on Saturday morning. Any new parent will attest to the lack of sleep for a few days after their baby is born. I got a head start on the sleep deprivation.

Vivian wakes me up on at 4:15 am, with the much-anticipated, but dreaded, “My water broke!”. With barely 2 hours of sleep under my eye-lids, I spring into DR (disaster recovery) mode. But she is calm. Knowing that I haven’t had enough sleep, and the potential of a full day ahead, she said to take it easy and sleep for another hour or so till her contractions start, if I can. That sleep from 4:30 am to 5:30 am made a whole lot difference.

Another nudge at 5:30 am, to let me know her contractions had begun. At 6 am, we call up our doctor and she advises to go to the hospital. By 7 we are on our way. It is 11 miles from our home to the hospital and most of it is freeway. You would assume that early on Saturday morning, I was not to be denied the opportunity to speed – I mean really speed – all the way to the hospital. But you would be wrong. The cops had picked this very day to lay out a speed trap all the way! We saw at least 3 pulled over vehicles, making me drive meekly at 60 mph.

Yet another curve ball awaits us at the hospital. More than 6 weeks ago, we had filled in the online pre-admission form for our hospital. Vivian even has an email confirmation from them, but somehow magically, none of that information was in their system when we arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am. So with Vivian cringing in pain from the contractions, they wouldn’t even hook her up to the monitoring tools before a “registration nurse” completed the registration process. !@#%. Well, on the bright side, things only got better from here on …. Or, did they?

Let’s see. With 3 attempts to find a vein for IV, 2 separate attempts to administer the epidural (with 3  pokes in the 1st try), a Second Stage labor lasting an hour and half, Vivian experiencing 3rd degree tear – yeah, all was well!

Seriously, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Overall our hospital stay was pleasant with the doctors and nurses, especially the nurses, making every effort to help out whenever we needed, and at times, even when we didn’t know we needed help. We also got to see the Spain-France quarterfinal while we were waiting for labor to progress! And everything could have been so much worse. No complaints.

Oh, and did I mention I cried when I first saw her? Oh yeah, because I didn’t. I haven’t cried in public since I was probably 12 years old.

How very clichéd it would be of me to proclaim my love for my daughter! Very, so what?  I love you Brinda! Probably more than anything else in this world.

Happy Us

Mother and daughter

View from the postpartum hospital room

Important skin-to-skin session with Dad

Gorgeous ladies!

Prin-Brin

Happy Feet

Categories: Life, Loves, We | 6 Comments

11 hours

That’s how long I slept from last night to this morning! This feels heavenly!

While watching India slump inexorably towards defeat against Australia, I turned the TV on and lay down on the couch. Rachel Maddow started at 11 pm on MSNBC. The last thing I remember was, Zaheer Khan popping a catch to forward short leg. Woke up a few minutes past 3 am, saw the same Rachel Maddow show on (probably the 4th re-run of the night), turned off the TV and the laptop, and trudged off to bed. The internal clock made me peek at the alarm at 7 am but this indiscretion wasn’t allowed to bloom. Finally my body had enough. Woke up, tired, a little after 10 am. Why tired, you may ask. Well, which other activity do you do for 11 straight hours and not be tired at the end?! I was tired after sleeping for 11 hours and needed some rest. So for the rest of the day I’m going to lounge and read River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. Possibly till Tuesday.

That brings to me another astounding fact. I’m on a 5 day work-free binge! Saturday, Sunday and Monday are official holidays. And I had 2 remaining vacation days from 2011, which is either use it or lose it. So here I am – enjoying my time at home, alone, while my wife slaves on at work 😀

Since we are on a roll with numbers, here is another statistic (this one on weather, enough about myself): After the 4th highest snowfall in recorded history in the Minneapolis area in 2010-11 winter with 86.6″ of snow, this winter (2011-12) we’ve had  about 10″ of snow till now, and almost all of that is gone from the ground. This was my first ‘brown Christmas’ (as opposed to white Christmas) in all my years in Minneapolis. With today’s temperature of 39 deg F, and New Year to be 40-45 deg F, this December is on course to be the 9th warmest in recorded history.

Ponder on the stats above. Such extremes of climactic changes can mean only one thing. The Mayans were right. The end is near.

Categories: Life, Weather | 1 Comment

Man on plane, beside me

I was flying back from Nashville, Tennessee to Minneapolis. The plane had a stopover in St. Louis, Missouri but it was the same plane coming to Minneapolis so I did not have to disembark and board again. There I was sitting pretty in an aisle seat. The middle seat next to me was vacant. The plane was almost full.

Here comes a Caucasian male, mid-twenties. Sweating, looking distraught. His eyes switch quickly to the open seat and then to me, and first thing he says, “I’ll give you 20 bucks if you let me sit in your seat and you take the middle one“. Before I could respond, he adds “This is my first time flying, I’m so scared man“. He’s almost crying. I take pity on him and move into the middle seat and graciously decline the payment for this good deed. He is persistent. Takes out his wallet (which is laden with bill, denominations unknown), withdraws a note and tries to stuff it into my palm. Now I’m embarrassed, telling him that it’s fine, he doesn’t need to pay me. He plops down with a deep exhale.

There begins a very interesting 1 and half hours of my life.

Once he buckles in, and tightens the seat belt so far taut that it cuts into his belly, he starts talking to the person across the aisle, the person in front of him and to the person sitting in the window seat, next to me. Explains, repetitively, how this is his first time flying, how scared he is, how he has children waiting for him back home. When he has calmed down a bit, I try to strike up a conversation with him, hoping this would provide a distraction to his inner fear.

“Where are you from?”

I’m from Oklahoma, man. I have my kids back there. And my girlfriend. Will I see them again?

“I’m sure you will! Flying is one of the safest mode of transportation.” Gotta steer the conversation to neutral ground. “Were you on business in St. Louis?”

Oh, yeah. I had to strike up a ‘deal’. A lot of money involved. Are we already flying?“. Understandably, as he wasn’t trying to be shy about how much money he had.

“Oh, good. I’m glad it went well. How long were you in St. Louis?”

Just for a couple of hours, and I was in the airport for most of that time. Are we already flying?” Strange.

“Oh, ok. So what do you do?”

I drive, man. Cadillac. All my life. My dad did that before me. I like driving. Cadillacs. I wish I could drive up to Minneapolis. Are we already flying?“. Stranger.

Not telling him aloud that flying is statistically safer than driving, I ask, “So what prompted you to fly this time around?”

Five thousand dollars, man, five thousands dollars. My cousins will give me five thousand dollars when I reach Minneapolis. Are we already flying?“.

Ohkay, I’ve heard enough and not trying to prolong this conversation, I slowly extricate the book that I’ve been reading from the front flap and start reading. But he isn’t done yet.

I’m Italian (born of Italian parents, I presumed, as he sounded quite American). I joined my dad into the family business. My mom is Irish. She lives in Rochester (around 2 hours drive south from Minneapolis). Thanks man for giving your seat to me. Let me give you a 20“. Tries to take out this wallet again. When I stop him, he shakes my hand profusely and says, “You’re a good man!“.

By this time the plane is ready for take-off. Once the plane begins to accelerate, he turns pale(r), grips his seat rests and looks straight on. Once the plane lifts off, he turns towards me and gives a sheepish grin. He now knows we are flying.

At cruising altitude, he struggles with his seat belt to get it off. The stewardess come to help him. As soon as he’s free, he jumps up and hugs the her! She’s surprised. She asks if wants anything to drink. “Rum and coke“. Then proceeds to ask all around him if he can buy them a drink. No takers.

Gets his drink. Seems to be calming down. He turns to me and says, conspiratorially, “I’m used to weed. Can’t have them on the plane, so I’ve been drinking.” Ah, explains – if you’re used to weed, deprived of it you’re bound to act strange. Alcohol to the rescue!

He has finished off his drink in 2 or 3 gulps. His tongue really lets loose now.

Hey, you look like one of those guys.” My querying eyes begs him to define ‘those’. “You know, man …those guys who wants to bomb our planes“. To justify his theory he adds, “With your mustache and everything ….” By this time I’m laughing out loud. “I’m kidding man, you are the good guy“. Again offers to give me money, now a hundred buck and buy me a drink.

As if he realized he’s stepped out of his boundaries and to make peace, he adds after a few minute, “Do you do coke man? I’ve got plenty of coke …do you want some?” I’m still laughing about the previous comment. I shake my head. He shows me his Rolex, apparently thinking that he still needs to make up. He looks at my watch (a Titan – a gift from almost 5 years ago) and asks if I want to trade! Assures me that his watch is at least $300. No, thank you.  Enough is enough, I decide. I put my book away, adjust my neck pillow, close my eyes, and fall asleep.

The jarring of the landing wake me up. The guy is sleeping. Let sleeping Italians lie, I pray silently. But the guy across the aisle, prods him awake. He’s paranoid. “Are we in Minneapolis?” he asks at least 4 different people around him. Satisfied he grabs my fist again, for the last round of shake.

We de-board and I put as much distance between him and me. Since I don’t have checked in baggage, I walk out of the airport with my carry-on. Mr. Cadillac-driving-coke-snorting-Rolex-wearing-Italian, (I can’t put my finger on it, but what does that remind me of?) bye and thanks for the hilarious time!

Categories: Life, WTF | 4 Comments

Gen obs

  • Test your Geography knowledge here and see how you fare against 4th, 8th and 12th grade American students
  • Heat wave in the Midwest. Heat index of 119 deg F in Minneapolis last Tuesday, 7/19. That’s all YOU, got??!!
  • Going to U2 (probably my favourite band) concert tomorrow. This is one of the biggest show ever in Minneapolis. A little history on this: They were supposed to perform in Aug 2010, but Bono injured his back and they postponed the tour. I’ve had the tickets since November 2009, the day the tickets went on sale!!
Categories: Life, Weather | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: