So, after an arduous but exciting past month where I’ve changed not only my country, but my continent as well, I am back to writing.
Moving to a new country like the U.S. is always difficult initially, but it’s worth every ounce (already my metric system has taken a toll) of the work you put in and the rewards that you will get in some form or the other. During this one month, I noticed a lot of things that are different than back in India. Some are comical while some are not so much. This article concentrates on five of these differences.
Right side drive/walk:
This is a pretty basic difference which almost everyone who watches Hollywood movies or TV series would know. But it is SO hard to get used to this difference that during the initial stages, you’re bound to veer towards your left because it is ingrained in your subconscious to stay to the left.
It’s good that I didn’t drive during my first days, though. Since we were busy navigating our way using Google Maps, running into the incoming public on the left side and getting weird looks from them became the norm initially. Slowly, to everyone’s relief, we now walk on the right rather than left.
Date format paradox:
In India, for the past 22 years, we have been accustomed to writing the date in the “Date/Month/Year” format. Here, I was too late in realizing that the date format is written as “Month/Date/Year”. The dates in all the initial forms were filled the Indian way. I started writing the date the “American way” when once an administrative officer here gave me weird looks on the 18th of August stating “We do not have 18 months here. At your place, maybe, but not here”. Since then, though it has been difficult, I have transformed my thought process likewise.
Metric system what?:
For a person who has, all his life studied mathematics in which the basic units have been meters, liters and kilograms, the metric system in the U.S. has come as an unpleasant surprise.
Trips to the supermarket were difficult in the beginning. Apparently, even American citizens themselves become confused most of the times. Which is more, 3 quarts, 6 pints or 40 fl-oz? What is ¼ of a mile? How many ounces are there in a pound? All these questions have troubled me over the past month or so, but if I’ve survived till now, I’m sure I can survive my remaining time here.
While returning from classes one fine evening, I saw a couple of people jogging on the footpath. I found it quite normal and moreover, I got very inspired so much so that for the next ONE day, I also went running. Things started getting weird one day when in the middle of afternoon, I saw a few people jogging with the full gear, heart rate monitor, blood monitor, on.
From that moment on, I have seen people running at each and every hour of their day, be it 6 AM in the morning or 1 PM in the afternoon, and even at 10 PM in the night. Now, I have become accustomed to such sights and I salute these people for being fitness enthusiasts.
There’s no spray where needed:
Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. There is absolutely NO spray whatsoever where it is needed the most. Period. There is a spray in the kitchen next to the sink to keep the kitchen spick and span, but there is no spray THERE. I still wonder in bewilderment that even after about half a century when Indians in scores and scores are migrating here in the US, nobody has put into use the one thing that all Indians so desperately need. It’s no surprise then that during the first 2 weeks of a new semester, a lot of plastic mugs are sold. Things need to change here, and soon.