This one is for you. I’ve spent a lot of time here in the last 24 months, and I think this warrants a post- dedicated to you, America, not one of the cities within.
First off, the things I love about you:
• Seasons! I love Delhi over Bombay for its seasons, and this country- has so a ton of seasons to offer. Strangely enough, you look beautiful in each of those seasons
• The time zones difference (within and outside). The difference really helps me savour you, because, outside of my will, it cuts me off from home. While that sometimes hurts, it often gives me a lot of time with you and myself
• The connection. The last 6 years have drawn me to you for a number of reasons, and each of those reasons and visits leaves an imprint in the story of my life
• Acceptance. Everyone in this country has the right to fulfill their basic needs. And while that’s true of many countries, there’s certain unabashedness about how America does it!
• The top 10 cities, of which I’m yet to see all: Boston, New York, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles (meh!), Seattle (I haven’t seen this one, but its great in movies!) and San Francisco (next week, if all goes well), and Orlando (not seen this one either)
• You’re home to a ton of Indians- of all types! The 1970s emigrants who run gas stations and convenience stores, those who rose up to elite status and went to pedigree schools, the engineers living in Indian communities, the wannabes in the big cities who are trying desperately to fit in, those who actually fit in, those who don't try but fit in beautifully and sadly, those who humiliate the country and the continent (Galleon being a recent example)
• The variety- in everything! Asparagus, avocado, artichokes (a few years back , I wouldn't have told them apart); food; makeup; wine; home ware; books; coffee; hotels; oh for heavens sake even self-adhesive silicone nipple covers! There’s a choice for everyone and everything
• The hard work. Americans work hard. They sweat and toil for want of more, and they do it well. The unemployed don't chill- they want to be employed again. The employed deliver their best. You set an example for the rest of us.
• The West Coast. I haven’t seen much it apart from a few forgettable days in LA. Forgettable because it was confined to training in a hotel. There remains something elusive about it. It reminds me of my fave movie- The Graduate. Or Love Aaj Kal. Or growing up in awe of the city called ‘Berkeley’ because I would never be able to study there. And now, the emerging love for all things technology. Yet, I haven’t been there….and may be that's why it stays so beautiful in my mind
There’s many more I like but I’m careful not to step in to the territory covered by multiple websites and travel blogs. Now switching over to what I don't like- brace yourself America!
- The unprocessed food: Cheese, tortilla wraps, pine nuts, ‘fresh’ whole grain, egg whites- there is so much unprocessed food here. I can never trust what I’m putting in my mouth. The Sodium can almost be smelled from a distance. Just this morning, I saw my ‘healthy’ egg white omlette being cooked, with frozen packed egg whites! I’m staying in an up-scale hotel and yet
- Your assumption that my being here for a month on work is perceived by me, as a ‘perk’ of my job. And its my colleagues- from pedigree schools and sophisticated upbringing- who say it more. I enjoy America as much as I enjoy Thailand or Vietnam or the villages of South India. Its more due to who I am! I’m incredibly Indian. I’m here to work and will enjoy myself while I’m here. And that's the size of it
- Your approach towards hospitality. I’m not referring to welcoming a stranger barging in to your house. I’m talking about your hospitality industry. While nothing to cry about, your airlines, hotels, spas are nothing like your Asian counterparts’. I once paid $250 for a spa session where the spa-lady (I won’t call her masseuse) just turned up a jet of water on me. I understand that’s Vichy but that’s all I got. A personally operated shower for $250!
- The excesses. So I’m on the fence about this one. There’s variety, excitement, desire, zest, but at the same time, the wonder has been lost. American teenagers spend their free time in malls- there is little curiosity about the world, happenings, the universe, the forces of nature, literature, history, amongst other things. I see the average Indian child fascinated by a bicycle, a computer, the solar eclipse- I find that missing here. There is little fascination with life….
- Obsession with oneself. This one follows from the previous one. I may be over-doing it but there is an unimaginable obsession with one’s own life- and that’s something I find so conspicuous in this country. There’s little sharing of anything apart from the updates on the awesomeness of one’s life! I have the pleasure of knowing many Americans who aren’t like that- are not self obsessed- and they are wonderful. I only wish to see more of those
As you can tell, I love a lot more than I don't and I’m delighted to be here. You’re definitely a chapter in the story. May be even more, but that remains to be seen…..its a long life~~