Friday, February 7, 2014

Confessions of a desi: What holds us in awe during our first few days in Amreeka!

I liked the response I got for my post on Decoding Desis, and you could consider this as an extension. 

Now, if you are an Indian and came to the States as an adult - for education, your first onsite assignment, a holiday trip (aah u stinking rich brat!), or your honeymoon (first or not), you have to admit that a few or all of these things did leave you awe struck in your first few days here. 

  • Voicemails. It doesn't matter that India is technically still a developing country, our rickshaw pullers, vegetable vendors, house maids, all boast of cell phones. So, we actually do consider the cellular revolution in the US with its really crappy prepaid plans and charges on incoming calls and messages as quite neanderthal, however, what fascinates us absolutely is the concept of voicemails. I cannot get more honest on the web than this: The first time, I actually rehearsed my voicemail message and kept re-recording it till my throat was sore and I was still not satisfied (I am still not with my current one). I did that on my office phone and home phone as well!
  • Pedestrian signals. While the use of traffic signals in our home country has been the butt of many jokes, here, we absolutely get fascinated when we push the walk button for the very first time to cross the road. It actually amazes us that the drivers stop, don't honk, and continue to patiently wait for us to cross the road completely. What tops this, is that you actually have cops who ticket a jaywalker! The first time I noticed this in LA downtown, I was just mesmerized on the spot.
  • The uniformed men! While on the cops, what is with the policemen here - forget policemen, even TSA agents at airports. 90% of them are so gentlemanly, polished and good looking. I still remember being of sheepishly giggly with a flirting TSA guy at an airport with a dear friend (If she reads this, she will know :)). ANd I will never forget the two amazingly handsome, polite cops who helped me with my luggage and got me a cab on my very first day in this country. I am yet to come across a good looking cop in India - that mouche and pot belly just doesn't cut it. (While, to be fair, I must admit the men in the armed forces in our country do have a very gracious air about themselves).
  • Costco and Uncle Sam's. I mean I would not be a true desi if I did not mention these two retailers in my post, would I? The first time I went to Costco, my eyes rolled over a few zillion times. Who consumes such enormous amounts of colas, cereal, energy bars. Oh forget that. Who uses so much toilet paper - infinite rolls and rolls in a single package! (P.S. For the last so many years now, I have been a loyal Costco customer. :P)
  • Black Friday. No, I have never stood in a black friday sales line. I swear. But, I have got out at 7AM the next morning to check out the hullabaloo. The stores looked like a tornado came and swept it away! For the first time, the madness of thanksgiving is really something.
  • There is no ground floor! It is one thing to have a different metrics system and a date system - we are left confused with the pounds, the miles, and the Fahrenheit, and the mm/dd/yyyy, but didn't we Indians share with you over telephone lines (or pigeons) or something the concept of zero? You go to lease an apartment and you have to keep reminding yourself, that the lovely lady means the ground floor when she says first, the first when she says second and so on - ditto our state of mind in the elevators!!!
  • obsession. We had never partaken in conversations such as these: "Keep a light jacket for the evening, the temperature is going to fall." Let's begin on our drive an hour later, by then the rain would have stopped at the intended destination.", "It is 10F but feels like -10F because of the windchill". Thank you for teaching us how are entire lives can revolve around the forecast for the day.
  • Portion sizes! Oh my, the pizza slices, the burger bites, the triple pancakes, single entree pastas, the humongous omelettes, the huge "small" coke - You are getting me wrong - we are all not exactly thin but our appetites are way less!
  • The animals and birds! I don't if my fellow desis have noticed or not - but the average sized cat, pigeon, crow, squirrel and sparrow are much huge compared to their Indian counterparts. Not only are they huge, they are fearless.I have never had to fearfully cross a path because an adamant grey eyed cat refused to give some way. I was scared for dear life at the Battery Park in NY while eating falafels and rice because the birds would refuse to be "shooed" away. To make things even better, there was once a raccoon in our trash can in Schaumburg, IL and not to mention the number of deer I have seen cross the road in a hoity doity fashion in so many places :).  
  • Parking lots. I mean there is parking every freakin' where. Not just malls, grocery stores, plazas, but even in the chaos of the downtown hub, during peak hours - somewhere, somehow you will find a parking - never mind the rates, never mind if you have to walk 10 blocks left or right or straight - but you can be assured you will get to park (under reasonable circumstances ofcourse - you cant be looking at parking in Times Square or Hollywood Boulevard now!). What is even better, is that you can chalk those parking spaces online while planning your trip. Every place is "mappable", like that :D.

Okay, my fellow countrymen in Amreeka, over to you. It is confession time :D.


  1. Nice collection Yuvika! And really glad that you included that ground floor/first floor confusion...

    One more thing I learnt when I went to India for a trip... In India, u cannot just say Hi or how are u doing to anyone!!! They might either stare at you, or will actually tell u all the things that they are doing or planning to do!!!

    It is just a courtesy here to greet EVERYONE you meet! Which is missing in India. Even in McDonalds here in US, you will get 3 seconds greeting!

    1. I agree with you! Glad you enjoyed reading the post.


    2. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Even i have come across the Ground or First Floor confusions many times. One more thing i want to add is the Infrastructure of the roads and Highways (freeways) here in US. There will be a name given on each and every street or road, no matter big or small. That makes so easy to drive here.


I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!


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