Party in the USA – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGyjg3I7aK8
This Miley Cyrus song pretty much sums up how I felt when I first got to the USA two weeks back.
When you grow up all your life getting an over dose of the US of A on television sitcoms, in magazines, over the Internet, the Hollywood and the tales of people who have been there and relatives who live there, you feel like you know the country in and out. In fact i realized through conversations that i usually I knew more about the america’s history & brands than most Americans or Indian Americans living here for decades did. More often than not you will also know more about countries other than the USA; this usually means you are reading too many travel books!
The first thing that struck me about the United States even from the aircraft looking down at New York was how it looked like a printed circuit board or a computer’s mother board. From the moment you land in the country you realize that there is structure in thought, form and processes every step along the way. I made a whole series of cartoons on this and u can catch them here. From forming real queues to automation of gas pumps, self parking tickets to self scan out in super markets; it’s all electronic and you can’t live without a credit card here. You are what your credit history is. The country has truly leveraged the information technology age to provide a seamless network of conveniences to its citizens. Now you might wonder why when a country is providing such a great living experience for its citizens would anyone want to live in any other country? Well, they don’t! Every third person I met was either an Indian, Chinese, Hispanic, African American or European 🙂 it is a potpourri of cultures and I think that’s what makes it so truly cosmopolitan. If u manage to learn, understand and internalize the structure and rules here, it is a land of opportunities for anyone. Being here is a rich education in itself! It reinstated my reason for being here for an MBA despite the fortune it is going to cost me. For me this experience is going to be priceless.
Another thing that strikes me about the people is that most of them are super friendly and eager to know more about you. Partly because the rest of the world knows everything about the States but an average american seems to know very little about the rest of the world. An American working for one of the big four consulting firms(wont tell you which one) on the plane was shocked to learn that despite being from India and coming to the United States for the first time I spoke such beautiful English! She asked me if this was also the first time on a plane and I told her that it was the first time on a plane in the US for sure. There is definitely a lot the rest of the world needs to do to spread awareness about the progress they have made. Our tourism departments are clearly not working hard enough 😉
Despite being an avid “save the environment” messenger and ranting on about judicious use of resources, everyone here tells me that I will eventually get used to the life of plenty and excess usage in a couple of months. Plenty of air-conditioning, plastic bags, cars, electricity for drying clothes and utensils, water, and basically everything. One can sure get used to it in a few months, decide to stay on for a few more years and eventually become part of the ever flourishing mirage forever. Everyone tells me I will do the same.
Contrary to popular belief I don’t really miss Indian food yet. There is so much world food here to experience just like in India! I love it here so far but I sure do miss not being able to call on someone without a prior appointment, drying my towel on a clothesline under sunlight, and driving on the left side of the road. But most of all i miss family, school & my kids, and my golden Labrador “Oscar” who i never seem to get an excess of in the land of plenty.
Leaving these things am having a party in the USA!