I will soon complete five months of living in the US, and I have a few things to share. In a way a lot of us Indians growing up in big cities have already tasted the Western culture vicariously – what through our following of the TV Shows, Hollywood movies, American foods, celebrities, books etc. It should not have been such a big leap living in the US. Well it was for me. Primarily because I have never lived away from home (most people I know have had this experience). I would also soon find that in the US you do your own things. No cook to help you with the food, no maid to clean your house, no one to do your laundry and no one to wash your dishes. No, in US you do everything on your own. An American lady uber driver once told me,” I wish I was in India. They say I would live like a queen there.” The irony of being a developing country was not lost on me.*
- Me after landing in USA
Oddly the one area I thought I would find it really easy here namely – food is where I am having a rough time adapting. In India if you would ask me what my favorite cuisine is I would jump and say Italian. The pastas, the pizzas…yummy, yummy. That along with American burgers etc. which I was sure to find at every other street and I knew it would be a blast. I thought it would be easy. I thought wrong. Turns out my craving for Indian food is beyond! (When did that happen?). It seems I would soon get bored of sandwiches and pizzas and burgers. I thought it was so cliché when people said they miss mom’s food when they are away. Well it ain’t no cliche, it is the ultimate truth of life.
It is an interesting journey. It is apparent that the people of US are pretty well mannered, social and generally amiable. I found that most Americans are quite emotionally intelligent (and increasingly I think that this is generally enough in life to get by).
Another aspect of USA that is really enjoyable is the weather. The US weather is so kaleidoscopic and vast in its scope and range. And fall, fall is amazing. There are a lot of trees here and lots of trails you can walk in. Between different cities there is a lot of green life so to speak. A refreshing change.
So those are some of my thoughts on USA (so far). Well, what do Americans think about India? The views are all over the place: ‘All Indians smoke hash’ ; ‘ Urdu is the commonly spoken language’ ; ‘Most Indians are Muslims’ ; ‘ Half the Indians are poor’; ‘India is a mystical place.’ Now while some people have a positive outlook on India some of the opinions are simply factually incorrect (Ex: India is one of the peaceful nations in the Middle-East). Clearly the common perception about India is as diverse as India itself. It seems however there was unanimity about three things:
- Yoga is from India and it is amazing.
- Indian food is spicy
- Indian marriages are arranged.
The first one I am proud of. The second one is a given. The third one…well. It was thrown at me by another uber driver**. The question was how can you marry someone you don’t know? I jumped to give my opinions on that matter. I said, now hold on, it’s not like that. But wait! Why was I defending a concept I did not believe in myself? It seems I found myself on the back foot often, defending notions about India. Indeed however, how much about India do I know myself? My knowledge comes from living in a big city and it is not very reflective of the humongous piece of land that is India. Often I showoff what a unique nation India is, each state having its own language and culture. The listeners are shocked. They say that is like different countries. Indeed that is why when I am asked to summarize India I find it difficult. These are things that make India unique. These are things that make India beautiful.
(to be continued)
*Of course It would hit me much later that perhaps for these reasons i.e., having people who do things for you is what contributes to India still being a ‘developing’ country.
**They are my unexpected source of interesting discussions.