Monday, May 16, 2016

Some amusing little things in the US

This post selected for BlogAdda's TangyTuesday Picks!

This was oh so long due! Being new to a country and its culture is a sure shot way of adding some humor to our lives, if you are able to laugh at it, that is. While some amuse you, some others embarrass you and a few more can leave you in despair. I was a little lucky as I already had friends who knew the ways of the country and I didn't have to learn the hard way. But despite all that, some embarrassments were waiting for me to happen!

~ Ever got stumped by something as simple as a faucet? Ever went looking for water to quench that thirst but came back parched because you did not know how to turn on the tap? Believe me, I have had some of the most embarrassing experiences with it. Faucets - they are everywhere but in different designs. Some are sensor-ed, while some have a push button down under, some pull to the side, some go up while a few go down. And for a person who has seen it for the first time, how in the world am I supposed to know that I have to drink directly from the water fountain, by mouth? I get nervous, whenever I am alone and in a new place. I approach these things cautiously, walking slowly while trying to understand how it works to avoid fumbling around, looking like a fool and coming back thirsty. If I even remotely feel that I haven't cracked the code, I give up meekly and wait until someone comes along and uses it.

Another one that comes close on the heels is the flush system in public toilets. In one of the airports, I spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out where the flush lever was. I tried moving my hand across something that looked like a sensor. Nothing happened. I looked all around for a lever, found nothing. Turned out, it was automatic and broken.

~ I was with a friend, shopping. It was my first time in a mall. As we entered a store, the woman at the door greeted my friend with a very cheerful Hello, as if they were friends and met after a long time. I wondered to myself, "Ooh, Sindhya must be frequenting this store a lot. Maybe that's how this woman knows her.." The next minute, she greeted me the same way, and I was flabbergasted."Wha..Whoa..Ho...Does she know me ?"

"Hi! How are you?!" is bombarded at you from every person you see, whether you know them or not. If you happen to meet them or talk to them again in 30 min, you will again be met with "How are you doing?" Not just Hey!, but another elaborate Hi-How-are-you-doing routine. As if the stars over my head are changing my well-being every few minutes. And don't even try to give an elaborate answer, because its not a question they are looking an answer for. Its just a kind of greeting. It took me a couple of more such episodes to understand that.

While most of them are genuine and make you feel at home instantly, it gets annoying at times when you clearly know the person is not interested in your answer.

~ Nail polish. Every woman, from an 8 year old to 90 year old, sports neatly manicured polished nails. I have never seen a single nail that had the polish scraping off it. I always wonder how their typical day looks like. Perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect nails and perfect body. When do they cook, when do they workout, when do they take their cats out for walk, when do they watch TV, when do they sleep, what do they do in their leisure time? I wish I could get a peek into their lifestyle.

~ Here comes the killer. For here or to go? I felt so uneducated, uncivilized and ignorant, like a poor girl from a far off place when the lady at the counter repeated her question for the fifth time, "For here or to go?". I just stared at her mouth, hoping to read her lips, mumbling a sorry after sorry, bringing my brows together in so much concentration that it could create a fire. It is so ingrained in their minds that it doesn't even strike to them that it doesn't even make a proper English sentence and people may not understand.

~ This one took roots in India itself. At the Subway, I was nonplussed when they asked me "What kind of bread do you want?" Kinds ? Are there kinds of bread? I knew of only one kind, milk bread, all my life. Just when I thought I crossed the first hurdle by choosing a fancy-sounding bread, came a volley of other questions on choices. What kind of cheese? What kind of sauces? What kind of meat? I had such a traumatic experience, I dreaded going to Subway alone again. I even remember keeping Sush on line over phone while I made the order, after having gone through the sequence of steps and choices three times with him. When I read about similar experiences in Quora, I felt so relieved that I was not alone.

~ Wooden homes. Everything here looks like a set straight out of a film set. As if they have been erected just a while ago, like those makeshift homes. They are usually built in a month, in everything wood. Never seen anything like this before where I lived.

~ Using Bathroom tissues. And the fact that there is not a drop of water in the bathroom unlike in India, where there is a bucket full of water all the time and where you wash your feet occasionally. Its all dry land here. Any wiping you do is with paper. Be it your ass or the floor. No, they don't use 8 year-old T shirt or the torn chaddis.

~ The vast parking lot spaces that are the size of a village in India. For a person who is used to cramming their vehicle in that little space between already parked vehicles, or parking illegally right under a No Parking sign, or if nothing works, parking right on the road and saying 'Do minute bhaiyya!', such huge designated parking lot is a wonder. If the Indian government sees this, they would lament at how the space is wasted and how a commercial gated community could have been built.

~ Not a shock, rather a pleasant surprise is how chilled out a hospital and the staff is. Pleasant music in the background, cheerful faces, and great hospitality greets you. People actually enjoy what they do unlike the grumpy and serious atmosphere I was accustomed to.

~ All offices are closed on weekends. I cannot get my SSN done or visit the doctor or get my address changed on the drivers license on a Saturday. This was annoying and needed a little getting used to because back in India, all our pending tasks were completed over the weekend.

~ Every girl, I tell you, every single white girl/woman has a nose as sharp as a knife. I am yet to spot somebody with a round nose.

~  Commercials are so stupid that you wonder who is more stupid, the marketing group or you (the audience). You wouldn't know whether to cringe or shed tears at the sheer lack of imagination. Its as if a bunch of kindergarten kids put out a story while pooping. And its the same nation that has built amazing roads and beautiful cities. I am very very curious to understand the mindset behind creating the advertisements.

~  Drive thru restaurants. I was luckily spared some embarrassment here because I had knowledgeable company all the time, but I always wonder about the experience of first-timers. You are cruising behind a car and suddenly a voice from nowhere booms "Afternoon, how are you!? What would you like to have?" If you are able to figure out that that voice is talking to you and also that the voice is coming from that easy-to-miss-speaker, you just saved yourself from a potential awkward situation.

Did you have to face any such situations? What do you find amusing? Please share your story, would love to know!


  1. Truly an eye opener...simply loved it

  2. Truly an eye opener...simply loved it

  3. Haha, aren't we all prone to embarrassing situations in new atmospheres! I still have a tough time choosing stuff from Subway and always let my sis do the job for me. And are the nailpolish and round nose facts true? That's new. Anyway, this was a fun read. :D

    1. Oh yes they are true!! They always, I repeat , always have perfect manicured nails. And noses too. Perfectly chiseled.

      Thanks for dropping by Darshana!

  4. Hi,

    Congratulations! Your blog post was featured in the Tangy Tuesday Picks edition on May 24, 2016 at Blogadda.

    Please find it here:

  5. This was hilarious. I'm an American. When I was in Dublin, Ireland, it took me a while to understand that "Take Away" means "To Go." A lot of times, accents are so thick, I stand there looking at them like an idiot. I know they're talking to me in English. I just can't decipher what they're saying. When I first arrived in Dublin on vacation years ago, I learned 20 new ways to use one curse word. The Irish amaze me at times. Haha.

    I saw your blog listed on Goodreads in the 50 Books To Read Before You Die forum, so I thought I'd drop by. My name's Michelle. I'm definitely going to share a link to this story tomorrow in my What to Read for the Weekend post.

    All the best!

    1. Hey Michelle! Glad it made you laugh :) I totally understand how the thick accents make us feel like we don't know English!

      I am so glad you dropped by. Appreciate your gesture:)


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