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 ;)


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