Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The land of milk, honey and hardworking people?!

My cousin wanted to know why I hadn’t written about my first visit to the US of A last month so here I am – I can never resist the chance to needle people I think will take it sportingly :-)

So, having lived in Europe, India and the Middle East at various points of time, what do I really think about the land of milk-and-honey? I didn’t have any bad experiences that I can describe in lurid detail, much the worse for those of you who thought there was some America-bashing coming up. I didn’t even see that much of the vast country – just a bit of the West coast. But I thought it was a relief to be amidst some order and cleanliness after the chaos of life in India. I also thought that many Americans are a paranoid lot who can exude some more warmth.

I had to remove my shoes at numerous points for security checks at the airports. On the way back, I was taken out of line and had to stand in an enclosed space pod, a bit like those you see in science fiction movies, where three blasts of air whooshed around me. I asked an airport officer what that was about, and he said it was to check for drugs and explosives. It was ok, I don’t get offended very easily, but it’s scary to think what happens to people who have the tiniest bit of anything that the machine wrongly detects as harmful.

I went for a global meet where there were many non-Americans, so I can’t say I had long interactions with many Americans. Those that I did speak to were quite courteous. Not overly friendly, but nice enough. The cities I visited, Portland and San Francisco, were rather pretty. San Francisco is gorgeous, to be fair. And the day I was there the weather was awesome. The city thrives on tourists and has some spectacular views.

During the trip, my boss asked a colleague whether she would like to live abroad. She replied that while she might like to go overseas for a year or two, she’d rather be a first-class citizen in India than a second-class citizen in a country like the US. The US is a very entertaining place to visit, and I might even like to visit multiple times, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I think Europe is more friendly and cultural, and those are things that appeal to me about a place.