Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Indian Summer in America: Part II

First time readers, kindly head over to Part I to fully understand and appreciate the essence of this two part series (which could even extend to a third part). Just to remind you, this could be a long, rambling post. Attempt to read only if you have completed every task on your daily chores list.

Last time round, when I posted my comprehensive analysis of American life for an immigrant desi, I made the mistake of not making it comprehensive. Some of the things I thought of adding got left out, and so I needed to put up another post just to complete my analysis. So here goes...

Dr. Pepper: People don't joke when they tell you that in the US, Coca-Cola flows (more freely than water). But especially in Texas, there is one drink that more or less out-does Coke. Dr. Pepper, for the first timer, is so revolting in taste, that the person scratches his head in confusion, wondering as to how the drink is so popular followed by spitting the drink out. But a couple of times later, it becomes terribly addictive. Admittedly, I am one of those addicts. Although, I maintain a check on my calorie count by going for Diet Dr. Pepper.

Not that my rather skinny frame requires dieting of any sort.

News Channels: I did mention television channels in Part I, but news channels require special mention. Regularly watching news programs such as Fox News builds up your awareness manifold; an awareness of your neighbourhood, that is. Yes, you will have hunger strike of the guy who lives 10 blocks away, for top headlines, a 'banana stuffed monkey' art exhibition for variety, a story on the local high school cheerleader for entertainment news, and the performance of the local University football team for sports. All in all, a completely balanced news hour. Oh! They also make the random mention of people like Bush, Obama, Clinton and events like elections, Iraq war and global warming.

So now you know to think twice before calling Americans unaware and ignorant.

Insulation from The Himesh: This follows from above. The chances of a news reporter to accidentally pronounce 'Himesh', even by a sequence of vocal sounds made by sneezing, are as good as Paris Hilton solving a differential equation. So thank heavens for that. Although reading blogs has ensured that I don't miss out on updates, including the plot synopsis of his latest movie - the name which I am too afraid to write here, due to my inability to spell it right.

People: How I missed this in the first part is beyond me. Everyone greets you as you walk past them. It could be a 'Howdy', a smile or a simple nod of the head. This is usually true of relatively, sparsely populated areas here. I seriously doubt people have so much time over at New York or Chicago. Anyway, my point is especially directed towards those of us who are conditioned in our home country to greet only those we know. A far more useful point to note would be this: if a pretty girl greets you, please, do not get ideas. Not gonna happen. It was an instinctive thing from the girl and you would do well to greet her back and get on with your daily chores, while cutting out that feeling of delusion from your mind.

Racism: I know I am drifting into stereotypes and generalizations here. This is person specific as well as location specific. In big diverse cities you won't feel it, but in small town America, a person with reasonable powers of observation can comfortably tell from that uneasy vibe. Although more than racism, xenophobia might be a much more fitting word. But it would be unfair to generalize, as the US is among the most tolerant of societies.

Weather: This is an interesting one. Despite the size, temperature changes experienced across the country tend to be fairly uniform. Okay, there is no snowfall in the south or hurricanes in the north, but when there is a heat (or a cold) wave, it sweeps right through the country. I guess it's got a lot to do with the lack of relief features here.

Indifference: I may have mentioned this earlier in passing, but people are usually indifferent in that they mind their own business. They don't really care what you had for dinner yesterday, or more importantly you won't really get brownie points for trying to espouse Indian culture and expect them to be floored by it. Make no mistake, some Americans do have some of those weird notions, like all Indian women are beautiful. But mostly, they don't really care.

Unless, of course, you are a celebrity. In which case they will know your underwear brand too.

I guess that should bring an end this two part series. I think there could be a part three but I can't think of too many important things to add. Plus I am already weary with two parts. I know there may have been plenty of generalizations and blanket statements during all this, but put them down to plain inexperience. Surely there are lots of things I am yet to see, so till then these would remain my first impressions of the US.


  1. Not Dr. Pepper! Not the aerated Kaasmadhu/sundry cough syrup flavored Dr. Pepper!
    What will it be next? Caprison Fruit Punch? Blueberry cheesecake? PB&J?
    Oh, oh the despair!

  2. Yes you are right! The very same one. I get that a lot from puzzled desi students.

    So I take it that you have come to the US (or were you here already?)

    I hate cheesecakes btw.

  3. I just arrived, although the session doesn't begin until September end.
    Oh, and before you make that concluding statement, you absolutely must try the Mango Cheesecake at Flavors (Defence Colony) the next time you visit Delhi. It's seasonal though, but wonderfully delightful:)

  4. Pliss do not hate on The Himesh. The Himesh is the Messiah come again. He is to be ruling the world, pliss. Dissenters not welcome: pliss world, stop and let them off. Them=you. Pliss. And thank you.

    Oh and two things: cheesecakes suck unless it's chicago and then it's the best frickin thing I've ever had. And in New York you're more likely to get wolf whistles and things like "Damn baby, cut me a slice of that apple pie!" unless its a fellow desi in which case he will follow you for three blocks asking you if you have a boyfriend, pliss and would you like some coffee, pliss? Coffee? Coffee? Coffee pliss? Coffee?

  5. [Amrita]
    I was in NY last week. You should have told me about the coffee thing earlier! Might have tried it myself :)