Monday, January 14, 2008

United States of America - A guide for a newcomer from India

Update Aug 03, 2010 - This is among those kind of blogs which very soon becomes obsolete with time and needs readers discretion. Much of the information written in this post are my opinion at that time. Though I have updated some information, take it with a pinch of salt.

Disclaimer:- The information in this blog are my personal experiences. If you have any suggestions, corrections or objections, please leave a comment for me and I will update this blog accordingly.

When the first time I came to America, I was baffled by the entire system and the complexities of the system. For almost everything you do here, there are set of do’s and don’ts. But that is not the subject of this blog. This is just a beginner’s guide for anyone who comes to America from India. This will be helpful only for few weeks, few days perhaps. After that the person automatically knows more and better things. Some of things I mentioned here may be true for a specific state or city but may not hold good enough for other places or surrounding. So take everything here with a pinch of salt.

I have lived in New Jersey and Minneapolis. So everything is based on that experience.


The first problem a person face here is about food. Especially for the vegetarians finding right kind of food is difficult, if not challenging. I think only we Indians have coined a new term called “Pure Vegeterian”. Which means No egg, No chicken, No Ham, etc etc. Here it is just Veggie that means No meat, but it can have egg. I am a pure vegetarian. I had a bad experience with burger king. I will tell you below. One thing I want to say that, every time you go to any restaurant it’s better to mention – No meat, no egg.


Veggie patty in subways are good. They are made of carrots, lettuce probably and fried in oil. Get it roasted, go for any bread and cheese you like and any fillings. I like spicy, so I go for green pepper, jalapeno (pronounced aa-laa-peeno), lettuce, tomato, onions, with Italian bread and American cheese

Burger King

BK’s veg burger are prepared very hygienically. They even don’t fry the veggie patty in the same oil in which they fry chicken etc. They fry them very separately. The only catch is that they consider egg as veggie. So they have egg in the veggie burger. If you are veggie but don’t mind having eggs. It is a good choice.

Taco Bell

This is the first restaurant I went in US. It is a Mexican restaurant. Mainly they have two options. Chalupa and Burritos. Burrito is Indian roti filled with stuff and chalupa is sort of Indian kachori filled with stuff. If you are veggie say that you want with only beans. No chicken no beef. They will just put lettuce and beans etc. I prefer Chalupas because when you order it they just have to heat it in the microwave. On the other hand they use to heat the Roti of Burrito on Tawa with other meat stuff etc.

Other options are pizzas. You can ask for veggie pizza or cheese pizza. These you can go at any pizza store. Only exception is probably Mc Donald. I went there in New Jersey and they said they have nothing in veggie stuff. But you can try at your locality once more.


  • Pinless World
  • Reliance India call
  • - You can get it via referral from existing members. Do let me know if you need it(I will get some bonus points ;) )
  • Vonage (If you need unlimited calling to India)

Cell Phone

For the first timers, credit history used to be a big problem. Therefore they don’t usually get a very good deal in cell phones. They have to either go for a costly postpaid plan or they have to manage with prepaid phone. I chose ATT&T's Cingular prepaid goPhone. I have always found Cingular’s customer service very good. I now own Cingular’s postpaid, family plan. For me, reasons to choose and stick to Cingular were

i) Good customer service.

ii) Network is too good. It was good in Virginia and New Jersey and it is good in Minneapolis. Some of the famous cellular service providers offer so called cheap and attractive phone plans but they have poor or no network in most of the places. There is no point in owning a mobile if you are not reachable in office and home.

iii) Most of my friends are having Cingular and Cingular-to-Cingular is free.

iv) Rollover minutes. Only cingular provides rollover minutes. This is important because every month you will have some leftover in your available minutes. Why to waste those minutes, if those minutes are rolled over and available for the next month you can utilize those minutes. Eg, you can keep accumulating your minutes over the year for the months when you talk to your friends the most like the month of Diwali, Christmas, New Year etc.

You may find local cellular companies also in your region. I have heard of one such in California. They operate only in California. That is the only drawback, but they offer very good service at a very low cost. I don’t know the name of the carrier(todo: update the name of the carrier)


  • Mint(
  • Quicken(
  • Microsoft money
  • Automatic money manager

Banking options

If you have some extra cash to save consider opening some direct banking accounts/money market accounts. Direct banking accounts are somewhat different from normal checking accounts. They don't have regular branches around the corner of the street and withdrawal of money is not very straightforward. They save money in these frills but in turn provide a very good interest rate.Few direct banking accounts you can consder

Credit Cards

Good read - technology updates

Classifieds (All over US) (Only some states and cities) (All over US) (Only some states and cities)



Added after comments from readers

And last but not the least, your last resort ;)

Baba Ramdev: A scapegoat for politicians

As a part of blogs consolidation I am importing this blogs from my other existing blogs

Post Title - Baba Ramdev: A scapegoat for politicians

Original Post Date – Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Post –

Yet another attempt is being made to defame the much honoured and respected Baba Ramdev. Baba Ramdev is like Patanjali muni for the current times. He has made Yoga, the ancient excersise, very famous. Yog is not only physical excercise it is a way of life. it is a mental exercise also. Baba Ramdev spectacularly brought back this ancient indian expertise into limelight. Millions of people have attended the yog camp arranged by him. And millions have benefitted by his cure. When we watch television we can see how his yog camps heals, how he alleviate the pains and brings joys and laughter to the lives for people. Instances like loosing 10 KG in 10 days, chronic diseases cured in 10 days are very commonly heard in his camps. People started believing in the magical powers of Yoga.
When I used to read Nirogadham in early 90s at that time there were handful of people who use to appreciate its power. Nowadays one out of ten people will tell you that Yoga is miraculaous. Lakhs of people now go out daily in the morning to pratise yoga preached by Baba Ramdev. With this picture in the background it is really heartening that such allegations are made agains him. The person who deserved to be awarded is facing such charges. And charges are also made by none other than Brinda Karat, a communist.
A communist never uses his head before he talks. They will make weird, baseless and logic less comments about anything haphazardly. They have laughable views on Stock markets, private companies and now yoga. I don't understand why nothing goes to their minds. Please spare non political people like Baba Ramdev. Probably she is doing because elections are round the corner in WB and communists want to bring back their strongholds in the state. But I dont understand the logic of achieving that by raking the nonsense issues.
But thatz what the politics is. Raising the unfounded, unwarranted and nonsense issues always

Era of Judeos Laxmans and Kulastes

As a part of blogs consolidation I am importing this blogs from my other existing blogs

Post Title – Era of Judeos Laxmans and Kulastes

Original Post Date – Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Post –

Not so long back we have seen Judeo and Bangaru laxman taking bribes on television. What started as a big melodrama, sensational story and front page news items ended up with enquiry commisions, courts and courts' dates. And we all know how it will finally end.

What's wrong here - In one of my previous article I said politicians are not bad. In fact, they are one of the most pro-active and hard working part of the society. It is in fact the value system in the society which is to blame for. It is typical "Indian" attitude which has to change. We collectively as Indian encourage corruption, carelessness and unethical behaviour.
But I am not saying that this politians are pure and good. They should be equally blamed. In fact they should not be spared and stringent, strict and immediate action should be taken against them. They are misusing public funds for the long long time. It is only now that they are caught.

Role of media - No one can deny the role of the media in todays world. You cannot stop people to become corrupt. But these are the clearer detterrent for them to become so. Sad part is that it all ends up here only. There are many stories which becomes headlines and then soon vanishes. Very rarely channels take the social responsibility and take the story to its logical conclusion. To quote the example. Madhumita murder shouldn't be quoted in the media if the culprits are roaming freely in the society. They are taking the shelter of law but media can rake these issues and get the culprit punished. Same is the case with Abu Salem.
Lately I was watching interview of Sachin Tendulkar in Aaj Tak. Anchor Prabhu Chawla was bomarding him with his question. He was not interested in what Sachin is answering. The only thing he was interested was creating controversies. He was looking for that "Single Statement" which can become a classic controversy. He was paraphrasing Sachin's statement to give it controversial taste. He was raising unrelated issues and questions to him. This was just an example. Similar things happens in other channels and programs. Media just wants to create stories to fill up its prime time. It does not shows any responsibility beyond that

Communists - Which age you are living?

As a part of blogs consolidation I am importing this blogs from my other existing blogs

Post Title – Communists - Which age you are living?

Original Post Date – Thursday, December 01, 2005

Post –

Recently, Montek Singh Ahluwalia commented(read lamented) that india has the potential to grow @ of 10% but looking at the coalition politics it simply could not. What a subtle admittance to the helplessness government has in the presence of Left parties. It is loud and clear "AS LONG AS LEFT PARTIES ARE PART OF GOVERNMENT WE CAN'T GROW FREELY"
Left parties are only responsible for keeping the growth of the country at low rate. Had congress goverment had clear majority at the centre BHEL would have disinvested by now. And the Sensex would have been soaring at much more than 9000 as it is now.
What is wrong with the left parties? Left parties are ruling West Bengal for almost half a decade. Mind you, this is the same bengal whose prosperity has lured the British to come and establish business here. And now WB is nowhere in the FDI map. Why?? It is very discouraging.
Left is living in the Karl Marx' regime. It still believes that communism is a valid philosophy. But the history has shown that communism has failed badly all over the world. Communist USSR is broken into many part. Even, China is now inviting FDI to spur its growth. But why communists in India are so ignorant. Communism is a utopian concept. Any society where Human beings are inhabited cannot accept ideal communism. Human instincts like competition, having more than other, and have social disparity cannot be suppressed. There would be no motivation to work hard if everyone is going to get the same irrespective of the quality or amount of work. As simple as that. Human nature is like that.
In short, Communist should come out of their shells and see the world has changed too much since Karl Marx. Foreign investment, free trade, globalization are the buzz of the era and the only mantra for survival and econonmical prosperity

Much ado about nothing

As a part of my blogs consolidation process, I am importing the following blog from one of my old blog( This blog was originally written on Tuesday, March 07, 2006.

It has got one comment from Praveen( and the comment says
Well n good!
For a moment forget about the unprecendented sympathy. Someone killed her, that's the fact. Media sometimes do a good thing. So, the case has been reopened and we do hope for justice. I tell you, there is absolutely no sympathy... who has that time? But if the culprits are brought to justice, we will be happy. If the culprits are from "leaders" category, we will be happier, definitely:)

Thanks Praveen for the comments. Here goes the blog

Much ado about nothing

There is so much fuss over the Jessica Lal case in the media. It is only because the case got too much of media coverage therefore this case is gaining unprecedented sympathy from the people. But it should not be forgotten that daily a number of such cases occur in the country. And most of these crimes are committed by affluent people in the society. Political leaders, business tycoons and their relative never ever care about the law. It might sound strange but the truth is that the influential people carry very low and negative attitude towards the law. They think that as long as they have power and money they can do anything. From the moment they wake up to the time they to got sleep they are ridden with the same impudence and arrogance. It is obvious from the way they behave in the society that given the loopholes in the legal system and the power of he money they don't have to care a little to abide by the law.