Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Musings On The States

There are some things I really like about the United States, some that leave me a little confused, some that leave scope for improvement.

These people are so concerned about making the best use of natural light that they adjust their watches every summer. And yet, they don't really conserve non-renewable resources so much. They own these huge trucks and SUVs which guzzle fuel like anything, and they use those to drive to work. Alone. I don't see anyone turning off their ignition at traffic signals, which was a big deal for me and my carpool friends in Delhi. True, the waiting time at the signals is not that long here, but they could save a little fuel there.

There is such a huge contrast between the main city and the suburbs just outside of it. The city is so much more crowded, has so much more traffic, and parking is about thirty to fifty dollars a day in most parts, whereas here you could find a free parking lot within two minutes of just about anywhere. Generally the parking around shopping complexes and offices is free. They use so much land for parking lots. I haven't seen underground or multilevel parking in the suburbs. Only in the heart of the city will you find that. These parts are also a lot more green than the city.

Out here, anything that involves manual labour is really expensive. Getting a pair of pants altered costs almost as much as a new pair. Getting a suit stitched costs almost as much as buying a small, five to ten year old car. By small car, Americans mean something like a Toyota Corolla. You can't get domestic help, and even if you could, it would cost you a fortune. Most petrol pumps here are not manned. You get out of your car, you swipe your own card, you fill your own tank.

Speaking of small cars, I still can't fully absorb the fact that everything here comes in such large sizes. Cookies, sandwiches, tumblers, cars, houses, grocery stores, book stores, parking lots outside those stores. The mystery novels aisle of an average Barnes and Noble store is a little larger (that is, it houses more books) than the entire Om Book Shop I used to visit in The Great India Place in Noida. You would hardly come across a two bedroom house in this place, at least not in the suburbs. They're all three or four bedroom places, sometimes more, with a generous yard, more often than not.

People over here are a lot more friendly than what I've usually seen in India. Everyone who passes you by will greet you. Salespeople in stores will always greet you and talk to you warmly. My husband's colleagues were pretty happy and excited when I went to visit his office last week. Okay, so the natives will be a little reluctant to live in an area dominated by immigrants, but other than that, they're quite open to us and like working with us and treat us just like they treat their other colleagues.

All retail stores allow you to return any purchases within thirty days if you have the packaging and the receipt. Well, except the perishable stuff that perishes in that duration. When you buy a home, you have the right to get it inspected for all sorts of problems and ask the seller to get them fixed, or lower the price. Customers have a lot of rights in this country. I think this sort of setup would not work that well in India because people would tend to misuse their rights.

Life is really smooth and easy here in a lot of ways. The only thing one tends to miss is family and friends. Everything else begins to fall into place really well in a couple of weeks or so.

No comments: