“OK then, when are you coming here?” was what my sister in law Bhanu always ended her calls with and from March this year, she had answered it herself and ended her calls saying “you are coming here this summer”. Her husband Vishwa and children Dharini and Dhruva provided the chorus and it was their love and attachment that had pulled us to the US. They had pulled and now they had to put up with whatever they pulled.
So, 4050, Kimberly drive, Canton, Michigan was to be our home for seven weeks and we settled here very comfortably as if we had been living here all our lives. Bhanu and Vishwa made us feel that we are doing a favour to them by visiting the US and took care of not only all our needs but all our whims and fancies too, and thanks to them, I began the first real holiday of my life.
The city of Canton MI is about 30 kms from downtown Detroit, has an area of about 100 sq kms and houses about 85,000 residents. Along with other suburban cities like Clinton, Livonia, Taylor, Novi etc and about two dozen smaller satellite cities, it makes up the Detroit metro. Whatever I have described in my earlier posts is based on what I saw in Canton and the cities around it. I tried to calculate how much space each residents gets but, since my arithmetic is not much better than that of Lucky Singh of “Munna bhai,” (who, since he could not count properly went on beyond the approved limits adding floor up on floor to his buildings) gave up the struggle after fifteen minutes. I think it gives quite a lot of space for every house and they can afford to have houses standing well apart in individually developed areas called sub divisions having their own roads, gardens, ponds and woods. The shops, smaller ones, are located in what they call a ‘strip-mall,’ a designated area for shops which contains about a dozen commercial establishments (invariably including a Dentist) in a large area usually at the junction of two roads. The large chain stores stand in their own huge lots - hundreds of meters away from the roads, with ample landscaped parking space and greenery around.
The area around a strip mall or chain store and those around the houses are maintained by individual owners or the housing sub divisions (association of house owners) and whatever common space is left is well maintained by the community or municipality. So, the whole city has the appearance of a very large garden with buildings dotting the place here and there. There are no multistoried buildings, and the apartments only have a first floor.
The city is very pleasing to the eyes but kills the legs if you intend using them for anything other than pressing on the accelerators and brakes. There is no public transport system except in down town Detroit. They say that the three major auto makers, GM, Chrysler and Ford who had control over Detroit, managed to keep it that way but whatever it is, one can not manage here with out a car.
This made us entirely dependent on Bhanu and Vishwa for our movements and they had to accommodate us in between (apart from their office work) dropping and collecting Dharini/Dhruva to and from 1. Schools (different schools), 2. Swimming and soccer for D1 and tennis for D2, 3. Music (I do not know what music) for D1 and Violin for D2, 4. Maths tutorial for D1 and Maths Olympiad for D2 (again, I do not know the difference between tutorials and Olympiad) and assorted birthdays, gettogethers and such other activities. I do not understand why they bothered to buy a house at all. They could have lived in their cars. It appeared that the only purpose that their house was serving was housing us! The purpose of course is good, as far as we were concerned and I have no complaints. In spite of all these compulsory activities the couple managed to find time to drive us around Canton and introduce us to all the major stores and places of local interest. The sun setting at 10 pm and large stores closing at midnight, with some of them open 24 hours, helped a lot in this activity but confused our jet lagged systems further.
It is more than a month since we arrived here. We remained in Canton the first fifteen days and once the schools closed, went around the country as far as we could. I knew that I would not remember what we did each day and tried to make a note of things. I did and the note pad is around here some where near the computer but presently lost amongst dozens of chargers, connecting cables, MP3 players, and hundreds of CDs, DVDs and associated material that vie for space around the computer. It will take a while and I will be back shortly.
Story published in Papercuts
5 days ago