The Weird America we don’t know from the distance


I’d like to believe that I came to this country more informed than the normal Indian who harbors views of the US and the life here like I once wrote about in this post. 

And by that I mean I would like put myself in the section of people who have willingly read into this country’s history, watched movies and documentary which speak of more than just the Miami Beach and Las Vegas and the Silicon Valley. Yet having just spent 9 months in this country I’m left a little surprised by a few things which are small and trivial but just as interesting. 

These are like the idiosyncrasies that all of us have, those small things which are funny, sometimes irritating, sometimes strange and weird yet you seldom have a reason or have a forgotten reason for it and almost never get them out of your system. 

One of the first things that struck me pretty strange was when I moved in here and a few childhood friends of mine came to receive me at the airport. After a couple of days of partying one of them gave me a blank cheque before leaving and said I could use in case of an emergency. But … But no matter how much severe the emergency It’ll take about 10 days for the money to be transferred into my account in the event I decide to deposit that cheque in my account. It blew me off. I was used to a 2 hour transaction time in India for transfers between accounts across banks. I was here in the US and a cheque deposit or an online transfer of funds was going to take 10 DAYS? That’s how it is she said and I didn’t ask further. 

The other day I decided to post a greeting card to my Dad for his birthday. I walked into the university bookstore, selected a card and paid for it and asked for a wet sponge to moisten the glue on the envelope to stick it. The man behind the counter smiled and said “You’ll have to lick it!”. I thought I’d heard it wrong and said “Sorry?”. He brought back the smile and said “You’ll have to lick it sir!”. My eyes widened! Arguably the most disgusting thing I’ve done since I was 10, when wouldn’t mind licking envelopes.

If you walk into an eat out, diner or restaurant in India, the waiter or waitress will serve you water before asking for an order. In the US, the waiter will wait for you to settle down, which essentially is a min of 10 min after you’ve come in. Then they write down the kind of water you want!

  • Regular water (which is generally water at 5 degree centigrade) with half the glass filled with ice cubes (no I’m not being sarcastic for once!)
  • Water without ice, which is essentially water at 5 degrees which is in the hope of warming up in about half hour. 
  • Water with cut lemon.

And all of these options have cold water. So there essentially is no option of having water which is around  15-20 degrees centigrade, essentially room temperature. You HAVE to drink cold water, that’s it !!! (Left to the Americans, they’d like to say the Federal Government has issued the order.)

If you walk into a grocery store or any store for that matter, you are generally greeted with a “Hey how you doin’?” or “Hey how’s it goin’?”. You’ll smile and say “Good!” and leave it a first few times before you get the hang of it and then you learn the song they sing. 

Hey how’s it goin’? (smiling at you)

Hey, I’m doin’ good. How you doin’? (Bright fake smile back)

I’m doin’ good too! (Smile and look down at their work)

Have a nice day! (Once they’re done with you)

Hey thanks! You have a nice day too! (You reply)

Thanks (They reply which you seldom hear coz you’re at least 5 foot far and they’re busy greeting the next customer already)

Song sung blue…… 🙂

haaah… America!! No wonder you guys say “God bless America”. And I know why you think God is still thinking. 

Drink me up hearties !!!

By the By…

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