Dad’s Taxi: No longer Needed

This week, the day that I dreaded finally came true. The days of Dad’s taxi came to an end.. No.. I’m not shutting down this blog!

My 17 year old daughter got her provisional driver’s license and now she is totally mobile with her own car.. A hand me down.. from my father. .. to her sister.. to her.. A 2003 Honda Civic with very very low miles..

Of course.. in my last attempt at maintaining some control I had to take some final steps to ensure her safety has she hit the perilous travails on the roads of Central New Jersey.

  • I signed a contract with my 17 year old.. on what hours she can drive using her provisional license (6AM – 11PM).. Nothing outside those hours
  • Only she can drive the car.. The car is NOT to be used by her BFF’s.
  • She needs to tell mom/dad whenever she goes out as to her destination and must text/call us that she has arrived at her destination.
  • She is responsible for ensuring car is in working order.. If any major maintenance is to be done, Mom/Dad will take care of it.
  • She’s fully insured (Courtesy of Dear Dad).
  • Drive defensively.. There is a reason why NJ has one of the highest insurance rates. If you live in NJ, you know what I mean by this.
  • No Texting and driving! Phone is to be turned off whenever she gets in the car if she is the driver.

She even started taking the care to High School!

So Dad’s Taxi is now officially out of business.. Unless of course my girls want me to drive them around when they are home!



Immigration and Little India

A few days ago I received an email from one of my colleagues at my work. He was deeply insulted by an article written by humorist Joel Stein in the July edition of Time Magazine. At first look I was agreeing with the “insult” that my colleague felt. By the way this colleague and I share the same first name..That is a story for another day…

Of course being reactive the way I am, I forwarded my colleague’s email to initiate an “official protest” to a few of my close friends who share my Indian heritage. By the way Mr. Stein’s article has spread like wildfire on the Web ..

After a few responses from my close friends I realized that I had grossly mis-interpreted the Joel Stein’s humor laced article in Time Magazine. Yet a part of me still wanted to send an email missile towards Mr. Stein.

What Mr. Stein writes about is valid. The Indian community has indeed taken over Oak Tree Road in every aspect. The 2 to 3 miles of strip malls that have been taken over by the Indian shopkeepers can indeed be intimidating to individuals of individuals that call themselves to be “true red, white and blue Americans”.  I have mixed emotions about the Edison, NJ version of “Little India“.

On one hand when I go to Oak Tree Road in Edison, NJ feel like I’m back in Mumbai or in New Delhi. Better yet where I grew up, in Jackson Heights, New York. Most of my formative years from high school was spent in similar environment on 74th street! Except for the parking problems,  “Little India” is a slice of my childhood. I feel at home, because of  my young adult life being raised amongst the stores and hustle and bustle of working in Jackson Heights!

On the other hand, I dread going to Edison, NJ and partaking and contributing to the economy of Woodbridge, NJ. The racism that prevails with the Woodbridge Police against the Indian Community in this town is notorious. I’ve been gifted with a ticket or two during my visit to Oak Tree Road for parking violations as well! You are guaranteed a “dirty look” welcome by the non south-asian residents whose homes line the road that is called Oak Tree Road.

Even being a naturalized “Desi”,  I am intimidated by the choice and the community that is known globally as “Little India”.  I can imagine the thoughts of someone that grew up in this community and coming back after 10 years what his/her perspective might be!

Additionally, some of the storekeepers and their employees barely speak the English Language and act like they are back in their respective cities, towns, and villages that they originated from.

Everywhere you look, all you will find tastes (literally and figuratively) of  Mumbai, New Delhi, and all parts of  the India diaspora right here! From Carom Boards,  Indian clothes, jewelry, food, restaurants, dry cleaning, there is nothing is nothing you can’t find here that you are looking.  I can find print copies of local news papers from India here with within 24 hours of publication in any language that you call your native tongue from India!.  Anything you want that’s India based can be found with multiple varieties and choice within a 3 mile strip of road.

All the deities that Mr. Stein mentions in his article can be found in abundance at any of the multiple grocery stores on Oak Tree Road. If you go to MetroPark Train station in Edison,  any Non-South Asian  is a minority at the train station between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM. As a matter of fact, Metropark is the defacto premier  stop of the “desi express”  North-East Corridor of New Jersey Transit that stop in Metropark, Metuchen, Edison, New Brunswick and all the way to Princeton

At Metro Park, you see an abundance of advertising by the Bollywood mega icon Amitabh Bachhan and all the stores that line Oak Tree Road.

When my family first immigrated from NY to NJ in the early 1980’s to Edison, NJ, Oak tree road was just in it’s infancy.  There was an abundance of the stores and establishments like “Pizza Hut” that Mr. Stein mentions. Unfortunately, all I remember is the Bars and shuttered stores that littered Oak Tree Road and it’s various strip malls that have now been made alive and vibrant by the Indian merchants.  I remember I used to go the Famous Pizza  on Oak Tree road for “special occasions” and having only a handful of stores, where I could get my desi groceries.

So when I read Mr Stein’s article, I was at first astonished at the outright racism expressed in his words. Yes both Time and Mr. Stein did apologize for his words. After absorbing the context of his article, I do not think Mr. Stein needs to apologize for his humor.  I have to  admit every word he says in his article does hold true. The assimilation of the Indo-American culture  is so visible in Woodbridge, NJ and Little India, that  it is very difficult to determine where the Indian culture ends and the American culture begins.

As a matter of fact, many of the kids that have gone to J.P Stevens High School in Edison have been my older daughter’s best friends.  My daughter has spent many years of her young life amongst the citizens of Woodbridge, NJ that she is most at home in that community. Both my daughters have performed at the annual Independence day festivities in Oak Tree Road as well as ride on the floats that go down the main avenue of Oak Tree Road.

So I do applaud Mr. Stein for his article and I know that many will find his words offensive (similar to my colleague from work who asked for an “official protest” of this article).

You know what, I am going to do to appease the masses that will protest Mr. Steins humor in his article? I’m going to officially protest my own blog posting as an Indian Born Confused Desi’s  (IBCD) response being an member of the Indian community that is known as Little India!

Summer Starts:Six Flags today

The Summer of 2010 kicked off in high gear this week at our home this week. First week the kids are home and we are kicking off the summer by having an outing at Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ!

Past week has been very hectic with my “two graduates”.  I have my twin niece/nephew over and I’ve been getting a daily beating in Pool volleyball from the girls. Who would think that 2 on 1 volleyball in the pool would be this difficult to win against “tweens”.

Last night we went to Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk and beach to get our dosage of the crowds and the sand.  We went in the after 4:00 PM so the crowds had thinned out, so we were able to go see the masses leave as we were just entering.. We could have stayed longer on the beach, if we had remembered to bring a blanket and/or some beach chairs.  As my hero Homer Simpson would say: Doh!

Today should be interesting, as the national employee resource group that I’m a Veep for is hosting a barbecue at Six Flags in the afternoon. This should reduce the $200+ expense of food that normally occurs at Six Flags.

Of course Six flags is not just the cost of admission. When you add up Parking, Admission and “Flash Pass”  this can easily set you back $100 per person.

Tip of the Day: RetailmeNot has some great deals on how to reduce this cost.

Data Universe and My New Jersey

As I’m based in Central NJ, I find some sites that truly exemplify the central NJ experience. The following sites are great sites for your NJ news and all stuff related New Jersey:

  • My Central NJ – Central New Jersey News, Entertainment, Pictures, classified.
  • Red Bank Green – Red Bank NJ is the hub of entertainment and culture. It’s near Middletown NJ. The place where I call home.
  • Atlantic Highlands – I love this town place! Neighboring to Middletown this small town with scenic overlooks, the marina, is where we spend most of our summer evenings.
  • New Jersey – Everything NJ
  • Data Universe – If you are looking for information and data overload related to government, property, School records, crime statistics this is the place to be. All data is NJ focused.

Some of the links above I’ve already added to the sidebar for “My Favs”, others will be added soon.

I almost forgot! Happy Independemce day to all!