Registering an out of state leased vehicle in California when you move here.

September 7, 2013

This is just a quick post to hopefully help others who also find themselves in a similar situation as I did, and have to register a car they leased in another state in CA when they move here.

I very recently moved from Boston, MA to Palo Alto, CA. My family moved with me and we brought our leased car(s) with us.

I knew that I would need to register my car in California, get new license plates and change my license. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the leasing companies, their finance departments, on CA DMV website, and even showed up at the DMV during a CA trip to see if I could get some arty around the process. Unfortunately there is scarily little available online (at least my experience) on how to register a car, that you may have leased in another state and hence are not the owner and title-holder, in CA.

Car lease companies actually gave me some if the most confusing information. They kept telling me to go to the DMV and ask them to contact the car lease company and request a copy of the original title. They told me there is a special firm for this at the Dmv but didn’t know its name/number, and i searched the DMV website but didn’t find any such form. I was told by the lease company that somehow once the DMV gets that information I will need to go back to the DMV and fill out the application forms etc. That process didn’t make enough sense to me – I just didn’t see how I could just show up and say “Hi Mr/Ms DMV: can you please, ummm, call my leasing company on this number and get whatever you need?” I didn’t want to waste a day at the DMV.

Anyways – I asked friends on FB and Twitter if they had any advice, and lo and behold, social media came to the rescue. A friend had gone through this process herself and guided me. It is actually quite simple. And it worked for me today. Here’s how it goes…

1. Have your out of state car registration document with you.
2. Make sure you get a smog check done and have the report with you. Cost me $34.99.
3. Ask your lease company to send a “limited power of attorney for registering car in another state” and a copy of the original title to your home address. Bring those with you.
4. Bring your out of state drivers license (and your passport if you also want your CA drivers license). By the way: you need to do all this within a few weeks of arriving in CA so start the process with your lease company even before you move.
5. Get an appointment in advance with the DMV by going online. It can be a zoo if you don’t have an appointment.

Once you get to the DMV, look for window that says “By Appointment”, and let them know you have arrived. They will give you applications to fill out and make you go outside to bring your car to the appropriate place for “Verification Check”. Basically somebody will walk around your car, peek under the hood, take mileage information etc and give you a filled out verification form.

Fill out the application for registering a car that you will be given (don’t worry about price of car, just guess, and write in “lease” since there is no option for that).

You will be given a ticket number, wait for your turn, go up to the designated window/desk, hand over the documents with the filled-in application form and you will soon have new number plates and registration documents in your hands. Fee is $241 and you can only pay in cash, check or Debit/ATM card. No credit card.

I also filled out my driver’s license application on the spot and paid the $32 fee. They needed to see my passport as a second form of ID. I didn’t have to take a driving test but did take a written exam. I had not prepared but thankfully I only got 3 answers wrong when I was allowed to have 6 wrong answers out of 36. I didn’t know better, but you would be better off grabbing a CA driver’s handbook (copies lying around DMV) and reviewing it for 30 minutes before the test. Smile for your photo as you will be stuck with it for a while.

Good luck!


Lesson in parenthood.

October 21, 2011

I had to share this…just so that other dads can read too. Esp all those dad friends of mine who also lead a very busy meeting to meeting to conference calls to tweeting to networking events kinda life.

I randomly decided today to take off for an hour or so this afternoon to pick up my daughter from school for the first time. I was just trying to be nice to my wife who seemed exhausted and thought it might be nice to show school teachers etc as well that I cared. Well…my daughter, who is only 3, went to bed tonight saying “I am happy because Baba came to school”. Wonderful. Simply wonderful. I will sleep with the biggest smile tonight. And a big lesson learned in parenthood.

[new blog post] Some memories from a recent trip to #Istanbul #Turkey.

August 6, 2011

My wife and I spent almost a week in Istanbul, Turkey a couple of weeks ago. For our vacation we really wanted to find a place where we would not totally feel like tourists…and a place that had culture, architecture, history, great food and nightlife. We could not have chosen a place better than Turkey.

We loved it there. Turkey rocks and I am surprised not more people from the US visit there and talk about it. I wanted to share some thoughts and observations from the trip. I HIGHLY recommend everyone to visit Turkey and spend a few days in Istanbul and then other parts of the country.

  1. We stayed in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, walking distance from Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. We deliberately decided to not stay in some sheeshy place but a cute little hotel tucked away in the middle of other peoples’ homes, shops, restaurants.That is the best way, in my opinion. Some of our friends had recommended upscale hotels but now we realize they are further away from where the action is, are too expensive, and frankly do not let you have an experience with the local people. We would start each day with a breakfast on the terrace that overlooked the 6 minarets of the Blue Mosque and beyond. A relaxing breakfast was a perfect way to start days filled with walking.
  2. Everything is so clean! We were quite surprised. Here is a country that almost feels like Middle East, and yet everyplace we went to felt clean and tidy. We literally saw cleaning crews every few minutes when we walked down the Istiklal Street. That said, I must say spending time inside blue mosque was a bit difficult. Visit there would have been much more peaceful and calming if the carpets were not smelling so much of shoes/socks/body odor.
  3. We noticed that despite being a country with a significant tourist population at any given time, a lot of people we met in the biggest city did not speak English. While it wasn’t too difficult to communicate eventually, it was a surprise given how westernized everything else appeared.
  4. Istanbul is such a delightful blend of East and West. You can literally be under a bridge and look at Europe on one side and Asia on the other. Turkey also seems to have opened its doors to a lot more people than some other European countries. We met an Iraqi businessman who told us it was the only country where Iraqis could land at the airport and get visas. Hence, he did a lot of his business and spent vacation time in Turkey.
  5. We spent almost an entire day at Hagia Sophia. Probably longer than most would but the juxtaposition of Islam and Christianity in a centuries old building was too beautiful to quickly digest. Where else can you see mosaics depicting Maria, Jesus being presented with gifts from St. Augustin at the same time as the pulpit with inscriptions that a Muslim Imam would lead prayers from? History revealed, literally within layers of cement & plaster.
  6. Istiklal is quite a street. There are streets a bit like that in Germany, Switzerland and Nederlands that I have walked on, but this is so long and so crowded compared to anywhere else. Shops, restaurants, cafes on top of each other and people amassed as though a rave is happening. No matter which direction I turned to walk on Istiklal, I felt there was a mob walking towards me. It was an interesting feeling – even for someone who grew up in a crowded city like Karachi. By the way, at one end of Istiklal is the local bar scene and yes, it is very European and its very awesome!
  7. While food everywhere in Istanbul was interesting and unique, we had amazing meals where we crossed over to Kotakoy on the Asian side. Walk down the narrow streets, have an amazing kebap at a restaurant, dessert of yogurt with honey or Turkish Delight, strong Turkish coffee and then buy spices at half price compared to the Spice market. And while we talk about food: don’t miss the fried fish sandwiches (street food) at Eminonou, and on the European side, if you see just white people sitting at a restaurant drinking wine, move along…Food probably is mediocre and all of them followed some tourist guide book to show up there. Ask locals where would they eat if it was their birthday and you might get the real taste of Turkish cuisine.
  8. We enjoyed our visit to Ortakoy as well. Take a ferry over or a bus from Taksim Sq. Its a gorgeous riverside village. You can join the pizza lovers at the fancy “House Cafe”, or take my advice and grab a “kumpir” and “waffles” and sit on the benches along the river. This village comes alive in the evenings. By the way: Kumpir is a baked potato with stuffings dish that I think I will never stop salivating over. If it arrived in the US, it would take the country by storm!
  9. A trip down river Bospohorus is a tourist must. Its actually fun, and summer breeze is wonderful. But we also stopped at a place towards the end of the trip and had lunch at a secluded restaurant on top of the mountain. Most relaxing 2 hours we ever spent anywhere. Serene, quiet, gorgeous views, great food, and a sense of detachment from the general pace of life.
  10. Some other observations:
    1. Grand Bazaar is super touristy. Not worth the time for the shops…but interesting environment and architecture around the Bazaar.
    2. Spice market is over-priced. But even some locals were surprised that we bought spices at >50% discount to negotiated prices in the spice market on the Asian side.
    3. People generally seemed over weight. Not good. I wonder how the health indices track in Turkey?
    4. Ciragan Palace is over-rated as a place to stay. Go there for coffee, take in the view, and walk out before the resident pianist starts belching out western tunes on the Grand Piano 🙂
    5. If you don’t have Turkish coffee at least once a day, you are missing the most amazing drink from that country/region.
    6. I had the most expensive coffee I have ever had – that also tasted like crap. I ventured under the bridge near Eminonou and decided to have a latte. Cost me nearly $8 and it was so terrible I had to dump it.
    7. We decided to buy some semi-expensive decorative items at the Museum Shops. Just before paying for them I convinced my wife to try and find the same things outside the Museum shops even though the sales people kept telling us these things are not available in general markets. Well, we found them outside for 50% the price and saved hundreds of dollars. Later we saw the same things at 400% price at the airport.
    8. We were surprised at how many bookstores we could see all over Istanbul. A great sign that society values learning and literature….but I wonder how they will fare as digital media infiltrates ever so deeply. While we could, we bought tons of books there.
    9. Service at the airport is kind of crappy, which is disappointing and surprising. We were scammed by the tax return booth who was were literally returning only 50% of money they should. I bet the rest was going into their pockets. Turkish friends: this is really not what you want your visitors to take away on their way out of your country.
  11. Last but not the least, my wife and I had such an amazing time learning about and discussing the history of the Ottoman empire.
    1. this was a grand empire. this was a rich state. and these people lived a lavish life. wow.
    2. the treasury at the Topkapi place blew my mind away. There were so many diamonds and rubies and emeralds there that I tried to convince my wife these must be replicas. Holy smokes. I have never a diamond as big as the one I saw there.
    3. I saw relics of important people in Islam at the Topkapi Museum. As a religious person, it was spiritually quite interesting.
    4.  We spent a few hours inside the Dolmabache Palace and countless hours debating if the westernization of the Ottoman rulers brought the empire down? It is said that the King mortgaged his empire to build this lavish palace that simply does not fit the local climate or culture. It is like the Palace of Versailles but maybe a little too much. Crystals from France, Vases from Germany, plates from England etc etc. But it lacked life and warmth. Unfortunately. We saw photos of the Ottoman empire in the 1500-1600s and they seemed happy, elaborately dressed in their velvetty garb. Those from 1800s look more run down, and odd in British type uniforms. The beauty of Turkey today is that it blends some of the best from East and West. But did the Ottoman rulers go too far too soon, or did they get enamored with the least useful elements of the Western civilization? Or was it the palace intrigues that distracted them away from their people’s welfare?

Needless to say, we loved our time in Turkey. We will go back and we would like all our friends to visit there. Turkish people were extremely friendly to us, and we felt like home. We felt safe and witness to a country that is only now starting to emerge again as a leader at the global stage. If I could, I would try to find a way to go back there often so I can learn more about their economy, politics, culture, and prospects for the future. Hey startups in Turkey, kick it up so I can find work reasons to visit too!

This world is an amazingly small place. Now.

May 15, 2011

I came to the USA in 1995 on a student visa and with $200 cash in my pocket. I came to Wooster, Ohio – a small midwestern college town – for my undergrad studies. My first job was washing dishes in the college cafeteria and for that I earned approximately $5/hr. By US laws I was allowed to work maximum 20 hours/week and I don’t think there was ever a week when I did not work 20 hours. Hence I earned ~$100/week  for all my non-tuition/non-room expenses.

I am thinking of this today because back in 1995 I paid approximately $3/minute to call Pakistan from my dorm room. We had to use AT&T that the college had contracted with and could not use any calling cards etc as well. Given my meager earnings I used to talk to my parents and siblings in Pakistan two times a month for approximately 10 minutes each. You can imagine how ~$60/mth for phone bill seemed like a significant dent in my post-tax pay check. Honestly, it was depressing. I would barely explain to my mom what new and amazing stuff I saw in the USA in a few minutes, while she tried to urge me to eat better and write more often. She would do the job of narrating to my dad offline all I said to her. I think I only got to speak to him once or twice during my first year since my mom lovingly hogged the limited phone time. My dad had to make do with my letters, and emails that I would sometimes send to a friend’s house who would print and give to my parents (my parents did not have such a thing called email). My parents eventually even bought a fax machine so my letters could become more real-time but I wasn’t able to find fax machines easily as a student.

15 years fast forward and the world has changed so much technology-wise. Approximately 10 days ago or so I heard about That weekend I had a simultaneous video chat with my parents in Pakistan, my brother in Dubai, my sister in Chicago and my family in Boston. That is 4 different locations around the globe seeing each other simultaneously and chatting. My parents were able to see their three grand children at the same time for the first time ever! They were overjoyed and could not thank me enough for finding the site. I must thank for making my parents so happy.

And then today! My wife allowed me to borrow her iphone while I took our two children out for a walk in a public park near our house. She had the skype app installed and I tried using it to call my parents. And it worked! We video-chatted while my children played in the park, ran through sprinklers, and we walked along the River Charles. My parents have not been able to get visas to come visit me in the USA. They saw me walking in the city I have called home for 13 years of my life. They watched my daughter learn how to balance on a scooter and my son sit on a grass patch while we picnicked. They were quite enthused to see Duckboats and a group of Segway riders that were probably on a Museum of Science sponsored trip.

How freaking wonderful is this! Even as an avid technology user I am blown away! Thank you technology and technologists behind them. AV, Skype, Fring, Tango etc: you rock! Thank you for making this world an amazingly small place for those of us who truly consider ourselves to be global citizens.

(screen capture of my family in 4 locations using

And I weep…because a nation may have lost its soul.

January 7, 2011

A few days ago the Governor of the most populous province of Pakistan was murdered in broad daylight as he tried to enter his car in a busy shopping district. He was murdered by none other than a member of the very elite police team that had been assigned to protect him. The assassin was able to empty 27 bullets into the Governor’s body, and still no other guard on duty fired back at him. But why was the Governor murdered?

The assassin says he killed in the name of religion because the Governor had spoken out in support of a woman from a minority religion who is now on death row because she is alleged to have indulged in blasphemy against the prophet. And he believes that by association the Governor was also guilty of blasphemy. The Governor’s crime was that he advocated that a civilized society cannot penalize a woman with a law that relies on he said/she said proof of evidence to declare verdict. He died because he had called for a repeal of the hideous law that has been used repeatedly to terrorize religious minorities.

The above incident was enough to shock citizens of Pakistan everywhere. If one of the most powerful men in the country is not safe for advocating on behalf of the weak, and for sharing his opinions publicly, then what does it mean for the rest of us?

But the aftermath of this murder has been simply unbelievable. Horrible. The nation split apart whether to condone or condemn the act of the murderer. He was hailed as a religious hero by many, not just by people on the fringes but unfortunately by many mainstream politicians, religious leaders and educated people otherwise wasting life away on facebook. When he showed up on his first court hearing, he was showered with rose petals, people threw garlands around him, and 3000 lawyers filed petitions to represent him for free since he was a ‘hero’ in their eyes (see attached pic).

And that is when I wept. Unless the images in the media are lies, unless TV channels are making stuff up, unless people signing up on Facebook for fan pages of a murderer are imaginary….we are at unbelievable depths of our civility as a nation. Our nation has lost its soul, or at the very least its soul is taking last gasps before disappearing into oblivion. Pakistan’s primary concern is no longer religion, politics, democracy or economy…it is now simply about people learning how to be human again.

I am without words at what has transpired over the past few days. How did this happen? I only left Pakistan 15 years ago, and no, it wasn’t some piece of heaven on earth back then either…but I was proud of the history, heritage, culture and society I belonged to. How did we turn into a nation where we celebrated murders and glorified murderers? How did we turn into a society where teenagers now drop out of schools, colleges and jobs to memorize Quran and then kill innocent people, terrorize minorities, beat up women and blow themselves up?

I am mad at the happenings, but I am more sad and weakened by them. But that is today and I can only hope tomorrow will be better. I have now declared a personal jihad against religious extremism. It is an evil that has rotten Pakistani society to the very core. Pakistanis have to learn to be human first, it seems, before learning to be Muslim. We need to earn our place among civilized nations in the world because we are, apparently, still living in the dark ages. This nation, to which I still belong, needs to protect its dying soul. It may not be too late but its certainly time now. Its now or never.

Khurram Husain wrote this essay in The Express Tribune and is worth sharing here: Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

December 28, 2010

*** Happy Holidays and Happy New Year ***

Wishing you the best in 2011!

Bilal Zuberi | General Catalyst Partners

A video dedicated to Pakistan’s flood: “We must keep the candle lit”

September 28, 2010

What can I say about my friend Prof. Adil Najam who put this video together except, “Adil: you are awesome! And it is truly an honor to know you as a friend.”