I recently moved to Texas and I am still analysing the US as a traveller and not as a person who is living here. There! I explained why this post is not coming up too early from me.
That is exactly the reason why I am writing this post so early though – there are too many astonishing things and I really have to adapt to them. No matter what! Initially, I started with 8 astonishing facts but ended up writing 15. Phew! I am so sure I will be facing more surprises here!
I was mentally prepared for the cultural shock but there are other things for which I was not prepared for which I discovered after I came here.
I have travelled to the other “western” countries and I was probably aware of many things which we are not usually used to in India. For example, people in the west are pretty warm and they will just smile at you while on the road or in the elevator – which, by the way, would be a creepy thing to do in India!
I have watched enough of the American TV series to know a lot of stuff but the things that I am going to talk about are not shown on any television series.
So, the following things are just my observation about this new place. I am loving it here – it’s just that few things are still pretty atypical for me to adjust to.
- Tipping is the way of saying “thank you” here and thus, it’s mandatory. Whether you go to the restaurant or order groceries at home or go to the hairdresser, tipping is a must. And most of the time I and bae are checking the optimum percentage of the tip on Google for a particular service because we are not afraid of tipping – we are afraid of tipping less and end up being tagged as uncouth.
- Everyone talks about this and so should I. The food portions are super HUGE here. When I say huge I mean huge. A regular main course that you order at a restaurant can feed two but it is kind of rude that if two people go to a restaurant and order just one dish.
That is Nachos for one. And it’s an appetizer.
- Talking about food – everything here is very sweet. The bread, the poultry products, the beverages – everything seems like it is made of an extra dosage of sugar. I am very uncomfortable eating everything that tastes so unhealthy. But the beverages – they come in so many flavours. That is overwhelmingly unhealthy!
- This country is huge. For someone coming from India, it shouldn’t matter much because even we travel for two hours to go from one metro city to the other but here the ball game is entirely different. It not only takes you almost 8 hours to get from one coast to the other but this country has six time zones. So every trip comes with a li’l jet lag.
- This place is a germophobe’s paradise. The public washrooms are highly automated. You don’t have to touch a single thing in there, apart from the doors. The flushes, the taps, the soap dispenser, the tissue dispenser! Phew. That might not be pretty amusing in most of the countries but for me it is!
- Speaking of toilets – I hate the no-toilet jet culture here. I could find them even in a few nations of Europe. But not here. No. And it’s not a great feeling for us-people from India!
- The traffic and driving sense of this nation collectively has won my heart. The pedestrian is the king in this part of the world. People STOP when the pedestrian is crossing – with or without the signal. People follow lane driving. They maintain the speed limit. Just wow!
- Now my mental calculation speed has increased here by 10 folds. I wish 10 helped here much. I miss the metric system. I am not sure why the US follows a different measurement system altogether but it’s confusing at first. Or even after ages. And the multiplication factor is different for different units. Miles to Kilometer is 1.6. Pounds to Kilogram is 0.45. Volume is measured in ounces and I am not learning that conversion. No.
- One thing that astonishes me the most is that almost every household here has a dog. Or two. Sometimes, even three. It’s a part of their lifestyle. Are people here so lonely? I wonder sometimes.
- Oh, the street animals and birds here! I mean the crows and cats and squirrels of India are just malnourished. The crows are crows here. Big and cuddly. The squirrels are of the size of the Indian cats. But yes, they are scary too!
Okay, so the trees are proportional as well!
- Even after having so much sweet in their food items and having almost 35% of the adult population as obese, it is hard to believe that people here are such fitness freaks. And when I say that I don’t mean you will find highly swollen bags of steroid here but in general people here have a knack for fitness. They run, they jog and do all sort of heavily physical activities despite their desk jobs. Families here are passionate about going on trekking during the vacations. And that is inspiring!
- I have learned it very well that “Hey! How is your day going?” is just an elaborated version of “Hi” or “Namaste”. No one is expecting a full-fledged conversation. People here are just being polite and it’s best to play along! It was intimidating even for someone like me who loves to talk with anyone because I am not programmed to strike a conversation with a stranger walking across the road. But now I am adjusting slowly to it but it’s definitely bewildering.
- I am yet to learn about the tax and pricing system of this country – still working on it – however, general goods can be priced anything depending on the store from where you are shopping. The concept of MRP is not applicable here.
- Okay, the metric system was fine. But learning that the whole English language that I learned during my childhood is a lie here is something I am not able to come to terms with. Take away is to-go here. A footpath is a sidewalk. A dustbin is a trash can. And even the DD/MM is flipped to MM/DD. I have literally refilled so many application forms here just because of that!
- People here are cute. They are in no rush. They can stand in the line, sorry, queue, forever. And they don’t crib about it. They have a lot of patience. They don’t honk on the roads – no matter how slow the traffic is moving. I love this place!
I think that’s all I have to say. I am adjusting to this new place and it’s good to be surprised every now and then!