My Life Memoirs-14

My Life, Full of Beautiful Memories

-Venigalla Komala  

25. Raju and Kim in Pittsburgh

We had been to Pittsburgh several times when Raju was working in the Pittsburgh bureau of The Wall Street Journal. The first time Hemanth, Naveena and Rohit drove us to Pittsburgh and they returned home the same day. We stayed on for a week.

Raju took us to see the Venkateshwara temple built on a hill – an imitation of Tirupati temple in India. We bought some ‘laddoos’ and pulihora there. They call it prasadam. In Pittsburgh we saw lots of people walking unlike in Maryland and D.C. Raju and Kim lived in an apartment formerly built for university professors,  spacious and convenient to live in. A group of students used to live across in an apartment. I used to watch them barbeque and enjoy their weekends. For the first time, Raju took us to see the Christimas lighting there. I enjoyed the sight very much. After that, we watched the Christmas lights for many years in Maryland. Even Hemanth decorates the house with colorful lighting arrangement for  Christmas every year. He does it on a large scale along with a big Christamas tree decorated inside the house.

 Mr. Narasimha Reddy invited us for dinner in Pittsburgh. He is Mr. Moola Reddy’s uncle. Mr. Moola Reddy lives in Virginia and he introduced us to his uncle.

Raju filed for our Social Security card in Pittsburgh. It was a windy day with minus four degrees temperature. Innaiah and I gave our applications together and he got the card after two weeks. When Raju went to the Social Security office to enquire about my application he was told that there was no application in my name.

So I had to go to Pittsburgh again to file for Social Security and I got it within two weeks time. Perhaps misplacing the papers is common to many employees everywhere in the world.

Once Ashok Atluri and his wife Nandita visited us in Maryland – Naveena’s place. Raju came to meet them and drove them and me to Pittsburgh. There was some truck over turned on the main road so Raju has to take detour.  We were supposed to reach Pittsburgh by mid night but we reached there at four A.M. Raju was to leave for New York for a meeting  in ‘WSJ’s head office. So he had to leave for the airport soon after we reached his house. I felt very suffocated as Raju had to leave for New York and he had no rest even for five minutes. I know he likes his busy life, and even today he works with same speed for long hours each day.

Once I remarked that Raju and Naveena were working very hard – their work was stressful. Raju said:  “Americans gave us jobs on par with them, paying very well because they know we work well. You needn’t worry about our work.”

Kim used to take us out when she had the day off. We watched the Ballet – Nut cracker there in a Pittsburgh theatre. We spent some time with them in Pittsburgh  in fact I spent more time with them than Innaiah. During winter if you take a bus trip from Pittsburgh to Maryland, you can watch the mountains either side covered with snow which forms many shapes and designs. It is a beautiful sight.

We visited the University  of Pittsburgh where; different nations built a class room in their native style. There was no Indian class room there. When I enquired about it I was told that Indians were collecting funds to build one of their own. I don’t know whether they succeeded in doing so. We made many trips to Pittsburgh untill Raju and Kim moved to New York as Raju ended up being transferred to the WSJ head office and Kim also joined, briefly, the same newspaper.

I used to eat a lot of French Fries and T.C.B.Y yogurt which was full of cream. Both items added to my weight. I already put on weight due to thyroid complaint. So Raju used to advise me to eat non-fat yogurt and baked potato instead of French Fries. Luckily to save my health T.C.B.Y; stopped making creamy yogurt!.

We used to get senior citizen’s concession on Grey hound bus on our trip to Pittsburgh and back, and we used the service once or twice.

Once Rohit was doing some artwork using Crayons. Our young friend Neelima Sunkara asked him, whether he was painting. He said – No, I am coloring. She, an engineer, working in America, asked him what was the difference. He said he was coloring with crayons not using paint and brush. Neelima exclaimed  how she had to learn the difference between coloring and painting from little Rohit who was not even three years old. Here people use exact words to describe a thing and they are not vague in the use of vocabulary. Rohit, if he came across  a new word  immediately used it in an appropriate sentence in the appropriate situation. That is how he built his vocabulary.

 26.Raju And Kim Moved to New York 

Raju moved to WSJ main office in New York and soon  was one of the four Deputies appointed on the National Desk. As a reporter, he used to contribute many articles to the paper, there were days when two or three of his articles were published in a single day.

They rented a posh apartment in Manhattan just opposite the New York Stock Exchange. It was a single bed room accommodation for a very high rent. When we visited them, which was often, they used to give us the bed room and slept in the living room.

Kim used to work in WSJ in the afternoon shift, untill midnight. She had Monday off. That was the day for her shopping and other personal attention. She used to take us out for lunch,- each time to a new restaurant and movies too. Once she took me to the Central Park and bought me a horse ride for $ -40 dollars. I was disappointed that the ride was so short for the money she paid. We visited Broadway I have  been to  three plays there. I used to wonder at the sky –high apartment buildings. There was parking problem in certain areas. The metro system in New York is efficient and most of the people take metro instead of driving personal cars. Even the cab system is very convenient to travel.

When Kim and Raju were at work Innaiah and I used to visit important New York tourist spots on our own. At the Statue of Liberty we requested some passerby to click our photo together. Innaiah climbed all the way up. I waited for him at the foot of the statue. In New York one has to pay at all tourist spots,- museums and such other places. In one park two snake charmers were carrying two big, fat, old yellow snakes on their shoulders. One can pay and touch them and carry them on the shoulders if not afraid of the snakes.  Their fangs were cut, they couldn’t bite. I felt creepy at their sight and refused to touch them though the man was after me assuring that no harm would come. We have also been to prominent libraries and the churches there  to see the architecture of old churches, using the New york bus system.

In New York bridges are beautiful. Brooklyn Bridge is more than a hundred years old. It is used for all modes of transportation. People who live in New York City don’t like any other place in the US. I have heard. They love their city very much.

Raju and Kim rented a two – bed room apartment in Brooklyn. But soon they bought a three bed room apartment in the same area. They didtheir  house- warming on 31st Oct 2000- Innaiah’s birthday. They are still living in it making some modern changes to the apartment. It is not very far from their children’s school.

In New York City the standard of life is very high. Everything is quite expensive there when compared to many other major cities.

We met Warren Allen Smith, Innaiah’s friend in his tiny apartment in Greenwich  Village. He is a very humorous and, very friendly gentleman. He is the one who edited the compilation ‘Who is Who in Hell’, about many Rationalists worldwide. You can find information about Innaiah too, in that book.

We ate at  ethnic restaurants in the Greenwich Village- tiny places providing all sorts of food. Mr. Aramalla, a pharmacist friend of Innaiah was with us in our sojourn in Greenwich village. New York City provides entertainment to all kinds of people provided they have money and interest in enjoying life. Their best transport system helps people with convenient mobility.

                                                                       27. Green Card

I had to undergo surgery for intestinal obstruction. Our stay was extended on medical grounds. Meanwhile Raju filed for our permanent resident status. Our applications  were sent to the Baltimore immigration office. Meanwhile both of us moved to a one bed room apartment in Silver Spring, which was actually the first apartment bought by Hemanth and Naveena. We moved to give them time to enjoy their space and freedom. We used to look after Rohit whenever he needed our help. By then, he was going to a Montessori school and his free time was spent with us. Innaiah was called for his Green Card interview. Raju accompanied him and Innaiah got his permanent resident status, but there was no information about my application.

Raju  went to  the Baltimore office to find out  about  my application. He was told that my application was sent to New York office. The person who was processing my application saw Raju’s address of New York and without a thought he marked it for New York. Raju had to spend a whole day in tracing my application in the New York office and he requested for the transfer of my application back to Baltimore office because it would take a very long time for me to get my turn from the New York office as a large number of applicants were waiting for their turn there.

I was called for interview in the beginning of January 2000. Raju took me to Baltimore office. The officer in charge was a pleasant white gentleman. When he knew that Raju was from WSJ, New York he began to talk about New York life, and politics, saying that he had lived in New York city for some years. He neither looked at me nor asked me anything. May be he thought I wouldn’t understand English, a simple Indian woman. He asked Raju at the end whether I can sign and he made me sign where it was necessary. We thanked him and came out. I was granted permanent resident status that day.

We had already been in America for almost five years. We decided to go back to India. At the end of January 2000 we wound up our short stay in the apartment and reached Hyderabad, felt good to be back to our home.


(To be continued-) 

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