Nov 112011

As I mentioned yesterday, Last Saturday was an eventful day.

In the morning, I went out to see a couple of apartments, I’d scheduled viewings through a real estate agent. I met her (the agent) in front of the first apartment, saw it, then she drove us to the second one. The first apartment was quite nice, but the place I’m in is a lot nicer. A lot more room, a lot more closet space, and a much better kitchen. The owners were asking for about $200 less than my current landlord would want for her place, so it wouldn’t really make sense.

The second place was actually pretty shitty, but it did have a pretty big back yard. I would probably be able to fit 10 people out there, a big table/chairs AND still be able to have a garden. Unfortunately, the place was kind of cut off. The closest public transport was about a 15 minute walk away. Now, that’s not a big deal on a normal day.. but when there’s 10 inches of snow on the ground and it’s -20 degrees outside, I can imagine that walk being a complete nightmare.

So, and read to the end before you judge me, this is where my brain went into complete retarded mode. I started thinking that I should take the place that I’m currently staying in. Jen, the landlord, is asking for $2800 a month. A couple of people have already seen the place, and had already put in applications. Jen was aiming to rent the place out unfurnished, but we talked, and she said she’d be willing to leave the main bed (it’s a two bedroom) and the TV with its little cabinet. Now, in my stressed out brain, that sounded like a good deal. Did I mention that utilities weren’t included in this deal? In Boston, most landlords cover heat and hot water. Jen was willing to cover the hot water, but that was it. Considering that my original budget when coming here was $1500 – $2000, I go back to what I said; my brain had gone full retard.

Thankfully, after a day of thinking, I came to my senses. I don’t need a two bedroom place, and I’m sure to find much better deals in the Back Bay area (rather than the South End, which is where I am, which is a bit.. fancy). Also, the fact that I still don’t have a checkbook, and there isn’t enough money in my account to cover the first payments on an apartment (first mont – last month – security (a month’s rent) – agent fee (up to a month’s rent… this is the maximum, some people don’t ask for one or two of those), then there was really no point continuing the search. I’m delaying all this for a couple of weeks.

Anyways. After seeing the second place, the realtor offered to drive me back to my place, but I decided to walk (that’s how I go an idea of how far the second place was from anything). On the way back home, I decided to go around and get things done. I passed by Starbucks and picked up a bag of ground coffee for the machine at home. It turns out that their ‘free tall coffee with every bag’ offer works here as well, so with free coffee in hand, I wandered off towards the Prudential Center. This is a mall that is quite close to my house. I knew there was a video game shop in there (GameStop) and I wanted to pass by and pick up the new Batman game that I’d heard was pretty good. Hooray for old habits!

I got there, found game, bought game, and then, honest, I was about to walk home, when I remembered that the Apple Store is right outside the Prudential (on the other side from my house). Now, I’ve been trying to get a laptop from Apple for a while, but due to all sorts of reasons, I haven’t been able to (really Apple? My mailing address is here, in the US. Why won’t you let me buy one of your delicious products with my credit card just because it has a billing address outside the US? Assholes).

So I went to the Apple Store and spent the next hour or so agonizing over the laptops. Now, I’d fully intended to walk out of the store with a 15-inch Macbook Pro in hand. The 17? :Bah! Too big!” I’d scoff, my voice quivering in contempt, “you can’t even carry it around! It’s not portable at all!”

Guess what I ended up buying.

Meet my new toy :D

My new baby

My new baby

As I’d purchased a RAM upgrade, I had to kill an hour until the Geniuses at the Apple Store called me back. And no, I’m not being an asshole. That’s what they call themselves. Geniuses.

I went back tot he Prudential to get some lunch. I found the best thing ever.

So there’s a fast food place here called Cheese Boy. It’s a fast food place that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. I have no idea why I find this so funny, but I do. It’s brilliant. Take the easiest food in the world to make, and turn it into a franchise. Profit! I guess technically, Subway’s been doing that successfully for years. Good old capitalism. Always finds a way.

After lunch, I grabbed my laptop and headed home to play with it.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my eventful Saturday!

Oct 282011

As this post is going to fill you guys in past my first weekend, it’ll probably going to be my last ‘big’ update. From this point on, I imagine my posts will be smaller, with specific events and so on.


So, jet lagged as I was, I was up really early on Saturday.  The day before, I’d found out that this weekend was the Head of the Charles, a big annual boat race that happens on the Charles River. As often happens with North American events, it ends up being a giant excuse to set up drinking tents and have a wild weekend.

Naturally, I wanted to be there. So I made plans to meet up with my boss*, head down to Cambridge for lunch, then head down to the festivities.

Around 11 o’clock, we got in touch, and decided I would take the #1 bus across the river to Harvard Square, and meet up with Gibs, Dee and HaMa for lunch.

The bus ride was pretty cool, just due to the fact that it went over a river, and then drive right past MIT. On the way, Gibs texted me to let me know that Noam Chomsky was going to be speaking that night, so my day got full real fast.

I ended up having to wait about half an hour at Harvard Square, as Gibs and Dee were running a bit late, but I found a place to sit down, and I had my Kindle with me, so all was well. When they finally showed up, we walked up closer to the actual Square, and stood in line for about an hour at a pizza place.

Another explanatory note here. I don’t know if this is a common thing all over the world, but it’s a bit strange to me in Dubai. I’ve been noticing that places that get popular here get really popular. Generally, the lines are outside the door, people are happy to wait for up to an hour, and so on. I’ve already seen this at a couple of bars, an ice cream place, and the aforementioned pizza place.

They actually ended up giving us free pizza because they screwed up our first order. It should be said that the pizza was amazing. Unfortunately I don’t have the name of the place. I’m sure I’ll find it again.

Once we got our pies (HaMa had shown up at this point), we went into Harvard and sat down at some tables in the Yard to eat. That, right there, made my day.

From there, Dee and Ma wanted coffee and dessert, so off we went. Of course, this was a bit tricky, as it was 3pm already, and most restaurants in the area stop serving anything between 3 and 5.

We eventually found a pseudo Arabic place and after struggling to find a place to sit, we got our caffeine/sugar hit.

At this point, we realized it was too late to make it to the Charles event, so we separated and HaMa and I headed towards the Noam Chomsky thing. It turned out that he was speaking at the Occupy Boston protest.

The tent city that the protesters had set up was seriously something to behold. A huge public park was set aside and turned into a mini-city.. complete with food tents, first aid tents, etc. Different groups of protesters were handing out leaflets, others were playing with hula hoops.. it was pretty incredible. We couldn’t actually hear Chomsky speaking, due to a lack of microphones, but he was up there, and the speech ended up online. I haven’t actually seen the speech yet, but you can find it here.

After about an hour, the General Assembly was starting to gather, and I heard people saying something about a march, so I suggested we get out of there ASAP. Being on a work visa, I’d rather not get involved in any sort of movement that could get me arrested :)

From there, we drifted up to Newbury Street.. a pretty good spot to get some food and see the nightlife. We ended up at a fancy restaurant that was very generous with their scotch, and had a pretty good salad for dinner. From there, it was off to bed.

Sunday was a lot more quiet. The Comcast Saga (future post, honest) continued, then I had lunch with Rocky and Jen, and broached the subject of actually renting her apartment once the lease with the company is done (1st Jan). I doubt I’ll be able to afford it, but we’ll see when she gets a realtor in to value the place.

In the evening, I met up with Gibs at the Apple Store (biggest in North America!) and wept silent tears at all the shiny that I can’t afford.

Soon. Soon.

*So I should clear up the characters in my life at the moment. I’d rather not identify anyone by name, so I’ll have to end up giving them nicknames (thank you, N).

So far, the cast includes (with the most boring nicknames ever, forgive me, it’s early):

Gibs :- The guy I often refer to as ‘my boss’. He’s actually my boss’s boss. He’s the guy I flew in with.

Dee :- Gibs’ wife

Ha :- A friend of mine who also works at my company

Ma :- Ha’s wife

- I’ll often refer to the two above as HaMa

Rocky :- My direct boss

Jen :- Rocky’s girlfriend, and the owner of the apartment I’m in at the moment