I am adventurous and fancied moving to a new place always, or so I thought. Now that I have moved 12,000 km away from my origin, I see myself whining all the time. Maybe when everything is glorified to you all your life, you don’t find the place as sheeny. The obsession of Indians with America is well-documented and I found everything overhyped.
Lake at Burnett Woods (Close to my home)
Had it been just another vacation, I think I would have been a little more open-minded, but since I was moving to the States I automatically compared everything. And, that made my first few months difficult.
Here are some notable differences I spotted which didn’t go down well with me:
The eerie silence: I had heard about stories of empty streets and rare traffic jams in the States but I was surprised by the absence of people from everywhere, even from the busy streets (they called them so) on weekends. I went to a local fest expecting some energy and I could literally count the number of people with my eyes. By 8 pm, the cities turn into ghost towns as the absence of people is augmented by the dimly-lit houses and streets.
The not-so-friendly restaurant servers: I think this is specific to the area where I am staying because in some other parts of the US (specifically Florida) I have met friendly servers. In Cincinnati, they would just come to us with a straight face for taking an order and maintain that expression throughout. At times, when they are unable to understand my accent, they would just scream “Whaaaat?!”. Never a friendly smile.
Crazy driving speed: Yes, I totally accept the fact that driving in India is the worst thing ever and people from India find driving across the States a cakewalk. But, I was surprised to notice the speed at which people drive here, its surprisingly high and scares us! Our minds are not conditioned to the fast and furious.
Laundry machine: Apartments have their common laundry rooms where you have to pay for washing and drying separately. Why can’t they just provide this service free of cost or have machines in every unit? Some apartments have installed new machines but the one in my apartment is coin operated and quite obviously belongs to the dinosaur age. Every time we have to make a run to our Bank for quarters!
Food: I shouldn’t complain about this because its always difficult for Indians to adjust their taste palette to the food offered in Western countries. However, apart from the absence of flavor, the taste is consistent across restaurants here! They use the same condiments, measurements, and method of cooking everywhere. And, if you know the basic ingredients you can replicate the dishes at home.
Home Delivery: The joy of one-day free home delivery seems like a luxury here because nobody delivers anything for free. Back in India, I could order food from any restaurant or get anything delivered to my home on the same day. But, in the US, packages take a minimum of 4-5 days to reach and that too at a price. If you order food, there will be a delivery charge combined with a customary tip to the delivery boy.
Absence of domestic help: The nightmare of every Indian woman! I was so used to domestic help at all times that cleaning dishes and cooking three meals a day seemed out-of-line with my physical abilities. Manual labour is extremely expensive here which leaves you alone with all the household chores.
The chores also include assembling your furniture from IKEA, packing your leftovers at restaurants, and dragging your belongings through multiple floors. Tired!
Public Transport: We don’t own a car yet and that makes life miserable, literally. Cabs are expensive and grocery stores far & few. Buses, the only form of public transport, make only few runs during the whole day. And carrying multiple grocery bags from the bus stop to home is not the best feeling in the world, especially when the temperature drops low to the point of freezing your bone marrow.
Invisible Neighbours: “Love thy neighbour”, should be succeeded by “if you ever get to see them”. I live in an apartment complex where my main door is adjacent to three other units, yet I never get to see anyone.
Healthcare: You will not get to see a Doctor. In an emergency, be prepared to spend a fortune to see one. I fail to understand why such a basic necessity is made out to be a luxury here.
One friend of mine was down with fever and decided to visit a hospital. Eventually, he had to come back home without consulting a Doctor because people just kept referring him to meet someone or other around the hospital. Another one received a bill of $500 because he cut his finger and went for an emergency treatment.
Have you had similar experiences here?! Would love to know your thoughts.