The Buffalo Bulletin
"So how are you liking Buffalo ? "
I have lost count of how many times I have been asked this question (by strangers too !). They ask me with such eagerness and hope that I do not have the heart to say " how much can you like a place that's called Buffalo ??? " I still have'nt decided a diplomatically correct answer to it . So I just respond in a grand gesture that conveys little: a mix of the Indian head roll, a half grin and nonchalant shrug of my shoulders. Truth is I really have'nt made up my mind about how much I looove this place. The 8.75 % sales tax is not helping me much either !
The city is really not that bad. It is a small and decent upgrade for someone who stayed 5 years in a 'city' with one block constituting downtown and one mall (but the best mall among the 10 counties of Iowa). The downtown here has buildings with more than 8 floors. Besides here they have metro trains too...ok I mean one line that has trains running up and down from the University to downtown all day long. In fact this place is a lot like India and quite unlike USA ...all the roads are dug open everywhere with no indication of them closing anytime soon. Buffalo can probably be seen from space thanks to all the bright orange construction cones the city is littered with. I overheard someone at work remark casually, "Oh the same road work has been going on ever since I first moved here ...12 years back !!!. People honk for no reason. The roads are haphazard running in all possible directions.... a road on the left side of a intersection will have a totally different name from the right side. You will be driving along Winspear Ave ...singing along with Himesh Reshammiya (who I happen to enjoy...so kill me !), when BAM !!! Winspear has dissappeared into thin air at the signal . You are staring down Treehaven Rd not knowing where to go with cars angrily honking at you from all sides. Maybe I should have pulled down my windows and given them a dose of Himesh...that would have shut them up . I find it odd that Niagara Falls Boulevard..which is supposedly the mother of all roads here going all the way upto Niagara falls, ends abruptly in front of our campus.......just like that !
The biggest incentive for me to move here was that my husband and I finally managed to find something to do in the same continent. But I am still hesitant to blurt out that the city has kindoff started to grow on me, infinitesimally slowly though. I am slipping into a comfort zone I was pretty sure I would never find anywhere else in the world apart from Iowa city ( I had felt the same about Pune when I moved to Mumbai , and then about Mumbai , when I moved to Iowa city...you would think I should have seen this coming ... ).
But moving out of Iowa city was heartbreakingly difficult for me which is why I did not land here with dreams in my eyes, jumping with excitement about moving here ....in fact I had to drag myself out of the airport with a heavy heart and two bulging suitcases. Not to mention a knapsack with a tennis racket sticking out, courtesy of my friends. Its no fun getting stared at by people wondering which championship could I have possibly qualified for. If it was'nt for someone waiting to pick me up I probably would'nt have left the airport at all and tried to catch a flight back.
The first two weeks were the most horrible, and depressing time for me. It is still fresh in my mind like a bad hangover from cheap wine (you know... the ones you pick up from the grocery store when you are both greedy and stingy). With my husband's arrival still two weeks away, I was all alone in a new city. I went from depressed to super-depressed when I did not see any TACO BELL within 1/2 mile radius of my house or my lab. But then one day as I was returning from the lab my heart skipped a beat when lo and behold there it was in the mall near the house ....China King !!! Oh what joy to see the same menu, and the exact same way I was asked if I wanted "flied lice" with my orange chicken....they just had to be related to my china star aunty..the resemblance was too striking. And yes, the orange chicken had the same semolina instead of chicken. You can chew on it like a cow all day long ...it is not going anywhere....ah heaven !
The first day when I set foot in my apartment I told myself "hey this is not all that bad"...atleast this place has a huge square kitchen. My previous place had an alley in the name of a kitchen between the living room and bathroom. I guess they had designed it for people who needed to eat something on the go . The kitchen was so close to the bathroom, instead of DOVE, you would smell like curry after a shower. So this kitchen pleased me no end. The place also looked extremely bright with lots of sunshine streaming in from all the rooms. I also realized later that night that the place looks extremely bright with lots of streetlights streaming in from all the rooms creating ghostly shadows (for once I was glad I am blind as a bat without glasses).
For quite sometime there was nothing else in the house except for my suitcases and boxes. So my suitcases became my low chairs and my boxes doubled up as nightstand and clothestand. Rephrasing someone's (Jay Leno ???) words , it is said, we only understand the value of something when we don't have it with us anymore. I will never take my tea strainer for granted ever again. I had forgotten to pack mine, and so everymorning after I made the tea, I had to take a leisurely stroll around the house while the tea leaves settled to the bottom of the cup before I could gingerly sip the tea. A stroll too quick would mean eating tea than drinking it.
Boy ....was I glad to see my husband arrive two weeks later ....now the curtains could go up, the boxes could be opened and I could finally have my clean cup of hot tea thanks to the strainer I kept reminding him a zillion times.
And so after 2 months, ...the house is almost furnished, we have figured out the closest public library and Taco bell, made garage sale hopping our saturday morning ritual........life is getting back on track.