Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Thinking back

In front of the Union
Us in front of the Michigan Union, 20 August 2003

This is us, nine years ago, hanging out on a campus that we were just getting to know. We had been married less than 2 months and you could say that this was the beginning of a very long extended honeymoon away from our families... :)

Packing up our house and saying goodbye to people has naturally gotten me thinking about our first days in Ann Arbor, and surprisingly, I remember them quite vividly. It was 10 Aug 2003 and I remember our flight out to Detroit from Singapore being really early in the morning, which meant that I had to be at the airport by 3.30am. And yet, despite the ungodly hour, our nearest and dearest friends and family turned up to see us off. It was a significant crowd which was wonderful and yet so sad, because it made saying goodbye just that much harder. We had no idea then that we'd end up staying for almost a decade, but even just a couple of years away from home seemed such a long time then...

We arrived in Detroit on a Sunday and had to check into a motel in Ann Arbor-- the Red Roof Inn on Plymouth Road-- because we couldn't collect the keys to our apartment on a weekend. Our first meal was at the Big Boy's next door- Jude had a meatloaf meal and I had the Caesar salad. Don't ask me why I remember... They tasted unremarkable. I think we were really tired by then, American classics, or not. Not knowing what our breakfast situation would be like, we bought some fruit strips and granola bars from CVS, the pharmacy close by, and ended up really eating them for breakfast the next morning.

We make it to our one-bedroom apartment the next day and it was pretty much what we expected. It was fully furnished-- very retro '70s without meaning to be retro-- and nothing to write home about. I do remember being constantly perturbed by the poop-brown carpeting though. Anyways, we make it to campus to officially matriculate and get our student IDs all sorted out. We would keep those same ID cards for the next 7 years (before we were issued new ones after graduation). We had lunch at the Union where I foolishly ordered pad thai from the now defunct Magic Wok, thinking that it would remind us of home. Like I said, foolish. It tasted like rice noodles fried with soy sauce with peanuts crushed over it. I was not hopeful at that point about the availability of good Asian food in Ann Arbor. Thank goodness the years have proven me wrong.

In the evening, we decided it was time to stock up our apartment with household supplies and we walked over to Kroger, the closest grocery store to us. We bought toiletries, toilet paper, a frying pan, cooking implements, two mugs, a bunch of other things, etc. And dinner. A roast chicken. This I remember vividly. What I also remember vividly is sitting in our spartan apartment tearing into the chicken with our bare hands because we hadn't bought utensils. And cleaning our hands on toilet paper because we didn't buy paper napkins or kitchen towels. There were also packets of ketchup we had "taken" from MacDonald's. Fun times... :)

Oh, and then two days later-- after moving almost 10,000 miles away from home to a firstworld country that is widely-acknowledged to be the only super-power left in the world-- we get caught in the great Northeast blackout of 2003, the second most widespread blackout in history that affected 45 million people in the U.S.

Now *that*, was fun...

Some photos from those early days here.

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