I was in Houston, Texas for a couple of days and I fell deeply in love with this highly organized cosmopolitan city. Why did I go in earlier than planned? Well, on campus housing was booked to the tee and it was best to get the housing aspect of admission taken care of. I spoke to a lady in Houston who was looking for a roommate and the plan was that I will spend the weekend in Houston, meet her and sign the contract necessary to be apartment mates. But, unfortunately, that plan fell through the cracks and my plans were turned upside down. Despite, the little upheaval to my plans, I did get to explore Houston a little bit, I got to go to my school on Sunday and gained a deeper appreciation for google maps. My school is absolutely beautiful by the way.
The good news is that I did achieve my aim of getting a place to stay that met my criteria. It is amazing how it all worked out. There were many times that I felt frustrated and I thought I will return back to my temporary abode without achieving anything but when you keep calm and appraise your situation rationally, things generally fall in place.
What are my thoughts on Houston? I love it and I am definitely looking forward to spending some years in this city even though, I have this weird feeling that my roots might eventually be in a different Texan town but this is okay for now. Houston is actually very funny. In New York, the disparity between the rich and the poor were pretty obvious in terms of the cities and towns that they choose to live in but in Houston that really isn’t the case. The rich and the poor seem to live side by side amicably. But, I found a little undercurrent of racial tension in Houston. Now, before typing my experiences, do realize that these are first impressions, so they might not be how things really are. Secondly, I might be looking at everything from New York eyes, so my view might be a little flawed.
I stayed in a little place where international travelers et al, generally stay and I came in very exhausted and had to find somewhere to eat. I have to admit that I did not look at my room number when I was taken up, my mind was only on food and eventual rest. After eating my little heart out and returning back to the place that I had to stay, I realized that I did not know my room number, it wasn’t written on any document, so I walked up to the lady in charge at the receptionist desk to ask her what my room number is. She looked at me, opened up her fingers and said room five. I was taken aback. You know how people use their hands to communicate with those who they feel can’t understand English, that’s what she did and I wanted to slap her silly with those fingers of hers but I just shook my head and told myself that maybe I misunderstood what she was doing. She was Caucasian.
The second place of racial undercurrent was when I went in to eat. I chose to eat at a Chinese restaurant because I could not find a Mexican restaurant that could promise me the kind of spicy food I needed. Once, I stepped into the restaurant, the server scowled at me but still led me to my chair. She gave me the menu and I made my order. When she came to give me the food i ordered, she kind of slammed the food on my table. I was like, huh, but thought maybe I could be over reacting. But, then , I listened to her talking to a caucasian man who she was asking how his food was and she was very pleasant and showed a different side from what she showed me. I was very turned off by her behavior. I tipped her, but only because I wanted her to see that black people do not go into restaurants with trouble making written on their foreheads. The waiter was Asian.
The third place was when I was looking for a place to live for the new semester. The guy who was managing/supervising the place was Hispanic. The first comment that rang some bells was when I came in , he seemed taken aback by my appearance and then the next statement he said was,”I have no problems with race, I believe we are all one” He said all these without any conversation about race. Once, I heard that, I knew I had to be on my guard. Then, he mentioned, that he only had two black tenants living in the apartment complex and he sent the other black tenants out. He went ahead to mention that he had refused to rent his apartment to some black people because he had a bad feeling about them even though they were qualified and had the money necessary to rent the apartment. Then he went ahead to insinuate about my legal status in this country. You know at that point, I was mentally counting up to ten. Then he goes ahead to say that the reason that a certain country in Africa was better and more organized is because white people are still in power, of course, I had to correct his history because he obviously had his facts wrong about that country. Then, he refused to give me documents to fill my tax information and then gave me a form to fill out all my information which he wanted to fully investigate. I shook my head. This man obviously had issues with race, okay, black people to call a horse, a bloody horse. But, I was polite to him because, seriously, my mind was focused on one objective which was to get a place to live next semester.
But beyond, these three instances showing the undercurrent of racial tensions in Houston, everything was okay. I noticed that the homeless cut across racial lines. That was meh!
What did I learn from this trip?
a) Do not take any road trips that is more than 6 hours long. All you get from it is a cramped back, lack of sleep, and a jacked up system.
b) Houston has some delectable eating places.
c) Houston is a very organized city.
d) Houston is cosmopolitan.
e) Houston has some very friendly people and some very hot men!! *ahem*
f) Google maps is the business.
g) Keep an open mind, open log, relax and enjoy the flow!