100 Reasons I love America: #7-#10 Crowds Ok Food Kids Fall Colors.
Yesterday, I thought I should switch this project to #50ReasonsILoveAmerica and #50ReasonsILoveIndia. After all, this whole series started with me being torn between India and America. But, this post is about heading towards a conclusion, not making things more confusing. So, I am going to stick to my 100 reasons and if I run out of reasons, I’ll try to look for reasons to love in the trivial and mundane and figure it out. I always do. So, here are my reasons #7 to #10 to love America as an Indian immigrant. I concatenated the reasons and left the punctuation out just for fun ☺
#7 Crowds Ok!
In India, from a young age, I learned to hold my bag in front of me as a shield when I navigated through a crowd. When my brother and dad were with me, they would stand behind and in front of me as human shields whenever we were in a crowd of people. Which happened often in India. Shops were crowded, restaurants were crowded, temples were crowded. People occupied every square inch of space available in the country. And if you were a girl, you had to have your defenses in place. India is not necessarily any more unsafe for a girl than any “first world country” but eve-teasing and groping hands were common at least back in the late 90s. I hated feeling unsafe in crowds and having to depend on props and trusted family members to shield me. The feeling is less visceral now and more of an unpleasant memory because I have spent the last 15 years in America. I don’t need human shields in America. Even in crowded places. Crowds are OK in America! And that is my reason #7 to love America.
In India, I loved eating “authentic” Indian food. Hyderabadi spicy Biriani, Bombay Pav Bhaaji, South Indian meals with kootu and payasam, Indo-Chinese noodles. But, in India, we had Indian food. I had not eaten Italian Ravioli, Singapore tomato curries, mac and cheese (!), Baklavas, Falafals, Tiramisu and other foods that reminded you of the word, “Exotic”! In America, I experimented with different types of cuisines. I still fall back to my favorite Indian, home-like, food often but I have learned to appreciate tastes and flavors from other countries as well and that is my reason #8 to love America.
The other day, a young blond-haired, blue eyed girl ran across the street towards me. She seemed in a rush to meet some sort of deadline. As she dashed past me, her elbow brushed against my hand and in her mad rush, she still took the time to make eye contact and say, “Sorry, please excuse me!” So polite, so thoughtful! The opposite of kids I grew up with, the kid I grew up as and the kids now growing up in my home :p Politeness and courtesy have never been an Indian kids strong points. Indian kids are awesome. They handle multiple languages with ease and accomplish amazing literary feats but the pleases and thank yous have never been ingrained into their psyche like it is with American kids. I don’t know why that is. It’s not like Indian parents don’t put in an effort to teach etiquette. I know I do. But, perhaps years of learning to jostling for attention among a sea of kids have trained Indian kids to unconsciously prioritize other things over courtesy. Maybe it is now in their genes! You can’t survive in India if you are not street smart. I am not. Perhaps, that’s why I am not in India now. And to the girl who said sorry to me, you are my reason #9 to love America.
#10: Fall Colors
Red, gold, mahogany, sunshine-yellow, rusty-brown! Fall colors in Lexington were a delight to my eyes. I looked forward to the crackling sound that the fallen leaves made as we walked in the streets taking in the myriad colors that assauled us. It was as if the earth decided to dress up in a million colors to welcome the nippy Fall season! I miss the Kentucky Fall season. In Chennai, the weather stayed uniform. It was either hot or hotter or it rained. Predictable and unvaried. East coast in America is very different and to a FOB here, it is an unforgettable first experience! My reason #10 to love America.