My name is Pravin Mehta.

"He said “Put a dime in the telephone booth and call.” Now, I did not know what the heck [a] dime is."

Mumbai, India

New York City, New York





Sure, I remember, in India at that time for the fastest way of communication was to send a telegram, there was, we never had telephone calls and other things to do. But the best thing what we had at that time for communication was telegram. So when I was, when I was to arrive here, I sent a telegram to my friend to come and pick me up from the airport, and I didn't know about all the things here in the United States. And I didn't know, except for why that friend who encouraged me to come here, anybody else. So now that I was arriving here on Saturday, and what happened that telegram and he was doing odd jobs and study, my friend. So, when they tried to call my friend to give the message for to me to pick up et cetera, he was doing odd jobs. So, he did not pick up the phone, or he could not answer the phone. And so when I arrived on JFK, nobody came to pick me up.

So, and I didn't know all the terminology here, et cetera. So I wanted to try to call him and say come and pick me up. And when I went to the information booth as to how I can contact I had the phone number he had given, she said “Put a dime in the telephone booth and call.” Now, I did not know what the heck dime is. So I asked “What is a dime,” and the lady said “10 cents,” she, she showed me the coin and I had $1 bill which was total I was given from India $5 as an exchange of money. So, I gave her dollar and said, “Give me the change. So I can make a phone call.” And she was kind enough to give me and then I will try to call. But since nobody was at home, nobody picked it up. So again, I went to her and asked, “This is the address I want to go,” he was at that time living in Queens, Long Island City. And she said “It is, take a taxi and go it is not too far.” “I said how much will it cost?” And the lady says, “Oh, maybe 10, 15 bucks.” I said “Give me the cheaper way. How can I go?” She did not understand the word cheap. So then I tried to express like “$10, $5, $1, 50 cents.” “Oh, you mean less expensive?” I say "Yes.”

She said “That is very hard.” I say “If you can give me the instructions, correct. I will make it.” So she told me “First you take this bus. Go to the Jackson Heights - from Jackson Heights you take”, not Jackson Heights, it was Flushing - I don't know I don't remember right now. “But then you take a one subway - change and then take the other subway and get off on 42nd Street. And in Queens don't go to Manhattan and then just walk two blocks. And it will be you will find it.” Now I didn't know at that time what the block is. But I had no choice I had to do that. So I took my luggage and I was not used to carry the luggage and all those kinds of things in India and it was cold. I would came in October. In October, it was colder than in India but whatever. I just took a bus went to the bus station that changed and went into subway then I changed again the train and then I arrived at the apartment.

Now at that time, he had never mentioned but most of the apartment buildings, even today they don't open when you press the buzzer. They call from upstairs “Who is this?” and we identify yourself and then they press the button and the door can open. Now, since my friend was not home, I went there and pressed a button, buzzer et cetera. But nobody opened the door. So I said boy, “This is really getting,” and I was getting, I was getting angry at him, that even though I had sent him the telegram, why he did not show up, because I don't know here what is happening. So, but anyway, I could not get in and it was cold outside. Now, lucky we somebody came from building to go out and open the door and I just got in without [laughs]. And then he was living at that time on the third floor. So I took elevator went to the third floor and parked myself in front of his apartment door. And still he was not at home and I actually arrived in the U.S. at about 1:30pm. With all my adventures first day journey I reached apartment around 3:30, 4 o'clock. And then my friend arrived at home around 6 o'clock. I remember very distinctly he said, the first question “How come you were parking here and you did not tell me to come and pick you up?” Now you tell me what will you feel after coming through all this. And I told him that I had sent a telegram and tell them oh, he understood and then he told me “You will pick up on Monday your own telegram so you will believe what I'm telling you.”