Best of Times…..Worst of Times

Posted May 26th, 2002 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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I don’t want to write what I did this week for the simple reason that I didn’t do anything other than routine chores. So I am going to talk about something else. This weekend is a long weekend here because on Monday the Americans celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial day is a day when Americans honor the people who died fighting the Civil war. I am not sure whether now the  ’honored’ people have extended to being war victims. Long weekends hold special charm for the Americans. Not that they don’t for Indians but we have so many more holidays. What I find funny about American holidays is that they shift around?..

What I mean is that most holidays, other than Christmas, New Years and July 4, always are celebrated on a Friday or a Monday so that there is a long weekend. So Memorial Day is not celebrated on 27 May but on the last Monday in the month of May!  But sometimes they take things too far.Like Washington’s Birthday is celebrated on 3rd Monday in February. It really doesn’t matter whether that actually falls on 22 February, which was his real birthday! But they changed the day to President?s day and continue to celebrate it ???

Well Indian festivals also change days but then they don’t follow such a logical approach? Remember the frustration when you realized that Diwali or Holi falls on a Sunday. Although American holidays are far less fun (other than the clearance sales held by the major super stores) they are far better structured.

And that gives me a topic for this email:

In one of the mails I had written when I first came to US I had listed the TOP 5 things I hate and love about America?.

That was when I just came to America and my favorite things consisted of the availability of fruit juice and the fact that there is unlimited Internet and automatic doors that open in front of you.  The things I deplored was the lack of newspapers and absence of mumbaiyya slang. Now that I am a veteran in America here is a fresh list

TOP 5 things I like about America

1.         Ease in travelling from one state to another. And the fact that you can afford it on even your student salary. And the fact  that you can even consider travelling to Europe.

2.            Research . You do feel that most of the work is unique and directly applicable to people.

3.             Food! Different cuisines aaccesible and affordable ( lets not consider the pounds that come along with it!)

4.            Attitude of people here . People are generally pleasant to you. Who doesn?t like a friendly smile? I like the fact that people  here treat all workers with respect. Like the waitors or the plumber or the bus drivers. How many of us wish our B.E.S.T driver a good day and thank you ( I guess they would yell at you saying ?bas zyaada shanpana nako karu?). I admire the don’t care attitude of the people here and the fact that they can switch anything from hairstyles to careers to life partners at any time.

5.         Natural beauty. It?s a huge country and hence encompasses a lot of geographical freatures . Canyons, mountains, forests, lakes, beaches… 4 distinct seasons and each of them is beautiful, the freshness of Spring, the colors in Fall, the snow covered landscape in winter and the pleasant warmth in summer. Obvioulsy I hate not having the rains..but one can’t have it all , can they?

WORST 5

1.      Terrible public transportation other than in major cities. A car is a must and the fact that I have seen the weirdest of accidents here (deers and numerous upturned vehicles doesn?t really make me feel thrilled about driving)

2.            Attitude of the people here. Excessive formality .  Very few people would take kindly to a just a drop in visit. And this sort of formality extends to work as well.  I mean a lot of thing depends on your presentation. Your matter may be zilch but half the battle is won if you have sugar coated it enough. Of course it wouldn’t work for ever?!! Also most Americans are pretty self-centered. I mean the average American does not think anything beyond their country. It is as though the world begins and ends with the boundaries of America.

3.            Weekend night activity . Have to say it. I am sure this is not true of a big city but one thing I really really dislike is how the whole place looks deserted at night.  Yesterday night , Atha and I thought of going for a walk at night…Atha is normally a cautious person and warned me against it. But I was reckless and insisted saying that after all there were two of us. But a few steps later I realized that both pedestrian and vehicular traffic were so scarce and it was far better to retrace our steps back home. Even in a small place like Charlottesville, we have to be wary of muggings and shootings. And try getting a midnight snack or go to a decent restaurant after 10 pm. I can’t make up my mind on what to eat and my stomach can’t start producing sufficient gastric juices till its past 10 and by that time all the restaurants have a big CLOSED sign on their doorstep

4.         The do it yourself attitude. It might be ideal or whatever but give me my kachrewali-bai who takes my trash out and the maid/manservant who sweeps the house and the dhobi who washes and irons my clothes.

5.         I hate the sight of old ladies who seem to need help even to stand trying to push these huge carts alone at the stores or the feeble grandmothers waiting to greet you at Wal-Mart ???(but perhaps that is a good thing that they can be independent even at that age??)

Disclaimers

This is my observations after being in Charlottesville. People can agree or disagree.!!

Notice that I just mentioned what I like and dislike. I have tried not to compare the two countries ( other than the subconsious ones). I really didn?t want to say I like US because of its clean roads, when it is the same dirty bylanes that make me feel comfortable back home. I am not saying anything about the fact that I like the festivals at home and dislike its absence here. Or you can earn more money in US whilst you have your family in India. Those are obvious. Everybody knows that.

Books

·           Lincoln  : Gore Vidal

·           Ah! But your land is beautiful:  Alan Paton

Movies

·            Namumkin : Another Hrishikesh Mukherjee film.

.            Riding in Cars with Boys : Review …Bah!

Websites

·            http://www.holidayfestival.com/USA.html  :      Learn More about American holidays!!

·            http://rinkworks.com/said/                         :Totally terribly amazingly incredibly funny!

·            http://www.rinkworks.com/brainfood/discrete.shtml  : And something serious!!

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