Being selected as an Emerging Global Leader under the Atlas Corps fellowship program to serve at a non-profit organization for a year in the United States was a noteworthy achievement of my professional career. While personally the most exciting aspect was the prospect of living my life long dream of working at the Wall Street and living in New York City.
The initial excitement was slightly checked by the U.S. immigration officials as they displayed extra care while ensuring I had no connections whatsoever to the cursed international or even local (Pakistani) miscreants before I entered the U.S. However passing through their litmus test made life seem much more adorable.
The first couple of weeks in Washington D.C. (orientation & training) were intense, information laden, and I must not forget to say were AWSOME. The honeymoon phase was over the moment I stepped out of the bus into an unusually calm Midtown Manhattan street, it took me only a few moments to realize that New York was experiencing the most extreme winter in the past two decades which had kept the streets unusually calm on a weekend afternoon. What followed was enough to test the mettle of someone from a warmer part of the world, as the first 2 days of work were called off due to a severe snow storm, while what followed was nothing less (if not worse). I had prepared well in terms of winter clothing and gear, however adjusting to temperatures as low as -16 Co (with a real feel of -28 Co) was never easy.
Then came the seemingly exhilarating yet perturbing and tedious process of finding housing that (1) must be within close proximity to a subway station, (2) should be in a transitional yet secure neighborhood, and (3) must fit within a tight budget in a city where rents are as high as its skyscrapers. At times the search felt inane, sending out almost 50 emails/texts a day, and in reply being asked for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin profiles, at times a clear non filtered picture (sigh!), sexual orientation and compatibility, ability to respect, love and (if required) to take care of their pets, religious affiliations, and crazy amounts as of advance rent (since I did not have a credit history in the U.S.)
The misery didn’t end there. If the deal was good either it was fraud, or the property was managed by an “agent” ready to gulp down a month’s rent in his/her fee, if the first two test were passed, then the housing was in a neighborhood where staunch of booze and drugs was to be breathed in more than the air, however one lucky day when neither of the three instances occurred during my search I found a place. By that time I had toiled for 26 freezing days, from uptown to downtown, from one borough to another, from an apartment to a compartment.
My fellow Tarika was also on the same boat with me and in some instances we were together, her blog contains a lot that I might have skipped.
Still early days, but I am having a strong feel that “I ❤NY”