Sunday, July 3, 2011

What I Love and Miss about America

Happy 4th of July to all my American readers! I hope that you get to have a good day today and that your heart is filled with the spirit of the celebration. In my absence from America, I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do to celebrate but I wanted to start my day recapping some things I miss. It's hard going through culture shock and adjusting to life in another country, but it does help you appreciate some things that you never noticed before or had forgotten had a place in your life.

Baked Ruffles. I love these chips! They are my all time favorite and of course, they are not available in Amritsar. (If I'm wrong, please for the love of God give me the name of a store because I will be there as fast as the bike can drive!) I didn't eat them every day but I found comfort in those chips while watching movies or when I was having a rough morning and didn't feel like making a healthy breakfast. They went well with just about any other snack or fruit and I didn't need dip to eat them. I miss these so much I'm seriously tempted to beg my mom to send me some in a care package. I don't care if they wind up getting here as crumbs, I will eat the crumbs because those are fabulous too. I always dumped the crumbs in my mouth at the end of the bag.

Picnics. I miss picnics. Where I'm at it would be feasible to have a picnic. There is a lot of trash that blows around the streets and the park is full of beggars and beggar children. They see white skin and I get targeted. When they are not there, there are the dogs and the onlookers who would make it almost impossible to have a peaceful picnic with hubby. He is really shy about those things and I know he would be uncomfortable which takes all the fun out of it. I could try having one on the terrace but I don't get the impression that would be much fun.

Curbs. As a child I loved to walk in the rain that ran down the curbs on the side of the road (we lived on a hill) when it was raining. I did this on up until I was about 15 and it was so much fun. Most of the time I was with my best friend Phuong though and we would laugh and do silly things with our toes in the water as it ran through them. I have no idea why, but it was the most exciting to walk against the flow of the water.

Cleaner air. As with all big cities there is dirt, smog....poor air quality in some way. I moved from out in the country (the jungle as Indians call it) where you rarely smelled anything unappealing and the air was so fresh and pure. Now I'm in a big city with dirt and trash everywhere, animals pooping in the road, and I have the misfortune of living near a funeral pyre area. That is just not pleasant at all and smells creep into this room and stay here. I smell all the neighbors cooking, dead animals, burning people, and so many other hard to get used to smells on a regular basis. I never smell flowers or trees blooming and I can no longer smell the rain coming or feel a tornado/hurricane brewing.

Fireflys. I loved catching these as a kid growing up. For a day or two I had a pet that lit up! How exciting was that lol. After I got too old to catch them and realized my gma wasn't letting them out they were dying I started appreciating their beauty in nature instead. It was awesome to sit on the porch in the dark and see little green/yellow lights everywhere.

Pedicures. Yes, I know they are available here. However they are much different. I took for granted that the completely awesome Vietnamese lady who could paint flowers with 6 different colors on one toenail and make it look like a real flower had been shrunk and glued to your toe was Asian. I thought, when I get to India, I'll be in Asia so I can keep on getting my pedicures, only cheaper. Not so! I went to the most expensive/posh salon here for a haircut and was going to ask for a pedicure but the woman next to me was getting one so I decided to watch. They came to her hair cutting chair and did everything there in a much different manner. No massage chair and magazine to read. No massaging up to the knee. No sugar scrub to exfoliate or nice foot bath to soak your feet in. Bleh....I opted not to get one I was so disappointed lol. I was really spoiled in America. (Now I need to find a better salon here that does at least half that stuff!) Just in case you're wondering, my hair cut was 500 INR - MIL would have fainted if she knew. ;)

Having the world at my fingertips. I know all Americans are well aware of outsourcing and importing goods. I, like many others, didn't fully understand or appreciate that until I moved to India. Even in my small neck of the woods we had Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Cajun/Creole (I know that's American), Australian, Greek, Indian and so many other choices of restaurants. Nearby there were even Pakistani, Indian, Mexican, Italian, French and other specific cultural grocery stores to shop at. The goods on our shelves came from everywhere and we had hundreds of flavors and varieties of everything available at our fingertips. After moving to India, I fully understand why America is called a melting pot. That stuff isn't nearly as available here in Amritsar. Sure, there are few international goods and restaurants, but nothing like the selection in America. The predominant flavors and brands are all Indian. I gotta take a 6 hour train ride all the way to Delhi to get a wider variety. Yikes!

Independence. I don't have the language capability to venture out everywhere on my own yet in this country. I'm not sure I want to lol. What fun would that be anyway. For the most part (from what I see) here people venture out when they have something to do, unless you have friends to hang out with. In America I could go walk around a store just to see who I would run into that I know, hit a library or go visit people. I don't have peeps here yet and I haven't seen a library. If I go to a store I'm sure to be harassed by salesmen doing their job. That's no fun. I can't drive here, little scared of that too. And there is nothing exciting within walking distance. These things to me, are not major but I do miss them. Phone calls aren't cheap lol.

I think that's about it. Those are the things that stick out in my mind for now. Most things I don't really miss, I just think about them once in a while in that "wouldn't it be nice if" kinda way. The things I mention above still give me happy feelings just remembering them. They give me something to look forward to, things to hunt down here because I'm too stubborn to just give up, and a happy place to go to when I'm feeling down. So here's to you America! Stay a melting pot...keep mixing cultures and wheeling and dealing so we can have it all!


  1. Being a South Indian and a small town girl, one of the things I missed when moving to any other place was the greenery and just the damp mud rather than all the dust of the cities. So when a friend gave me a potted plant I felt much better having it in my room. Then I started planting stuff in pots and have a full balcony now. I enjoy picnics there away from prying eyes and surrounded by greenery. If you have a balcony or the whole top of a house, build a garden for yourself. Hope this helps.

  2. Wishing you a happy July 4th too.

  3. Nisha, thanks for the tip. We do have some plants, I don't think they are tall enough if they sit where they are. However, I may be able to arrange them on the edge of the terrace. I shall try that. It's nice to meet another small town girl to provide some tips.

    Hiten, thank you!

  4. Hey...I was wondering if you've been to Chandigarh...that's the capital of Punjab. The place is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar better than crowded, noisy, cramped Amritsar. It's got cleaner air, more int'l brands and services, pedicures....most of what you need. Try visiting it once...I'm sure you'll love it!

  5. I haven't been there yet harry. We keep planning it and I keep getting sick. I will definitely be going sometime in the near future, most likely when the weather cools down. Thanks for the tip!