Things that are different in New York from India

Due to an eye for detailing required for work, it has built-in my habit to observe things closely. With this annoying habit, the culture shock and the “New-York Moment” compelled me to write again after procrastinating for months. Here’s a shortlist of things that I found different in New York from my home country, India.

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Picture by Sadhvi Sharma
  1. “Have a good one”

In India, as a woman, if you greet an unknown guy, he’ll probably follow you till your apartment with a greedy-grin and stalk you on Facebook. But it’s different in the states. (Except Joe from You, Netflix)

People in New York will greet you even if they don’t know you, or at least smile. While going up the elevator, even a stranger greets you when they leave. Pretty sweet! In India, if your neighbor aunty catches you in the elevator, instead of greeting she will ask “How much you’re earning these days?”.

2. “Tips in restaurants”

This blew my mind. You have to, again, HAVE TO pay a tip of 15%, 20, 25%, and whatever you wish more than that. I once paid $10 as a tip because I didn’t have change. And I couldn’t stop telling myself that I paid Rs. 730 as a tip to dominos delivery guy, that’s double of my dominos bill in India. I’m not saying it’s a right or a wrong thing. It’s just not relatable! (I don’t want to get into the right and left side of the conversation. It never ends pleasantly. Trust me, I’ve tried, that too in a bar.)

3. Side Gaps in the bathroom doors (school, airports, malls, every public place).

This was the weirdest thing. Why would they make gaps between the doors? I understand if someone passes out, it’s easy to notice. But isn’t it easy to see a fallen person on the floor from the bottom gap? And even if it’s not, are we supposed to always check through the gap that the person inside is doing fine?

4. “Hot dogs mean beef hot dogs”

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I once asked for a veg hot dog, and the guy laughed! The only hot dogs I knew so far were Veg and Chicken. Here hot dogs come only in one category i.e. Beef hot dogs, no questions asked.

5. Homeless people

New York forces you to be insensitive at some point. You will soon get used to ignoring homeless people. You can’t always stop and spare some change. The number of homeless people on the streets of New York is shocking. Roughly 63,000 (in 2017) in New York are homeless and you see them everywhere, on streets, in parks, in subways. This is just sad!

6. The abundance of Plastic bags

Grocery stores in New York shamelessly add 3–4 layers of the plastic bag to every bag you check out with. At that moment, I could only imagine that these plastic bags are never going to get recycled because people are so unaware of Earth’s reality. Mars is still not liveable, why don’t they get it?

7. Virtual Doorman

The trust in residents for no tail gaiting is very high. There are virtual systems to open the building door from your apartment (apartment means flat/house). It feels India still needs technological upgrades to replace human labor.

8. Street Vendors only take Cash.

If you see that Ice-cream van or that food truck, you probably can’t have it if you are not carrying cash.

Good thing Digital India has stepped up its game. I think most of the street businesses and individual workers accept a digital form of money in India.

9. People Smoking E-Cigarettes

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“Juul” is killing it here. E-cigarettes are a fashion statement now. And if you ask these people about it, they will try to sell you the concept of E-Cigarettes in every way as if they own this brand.

10. Random Performances (in subways, streets)

I love this in New York, and this adds to the liveliness of the city. 14 Street Union Square has performances going on all the time. There are chess players at Union Square who would charge you to play with them, so interesting! People selling paintings on the streets, someone playing an instrument, someone dancing, these things always give me a touristy feel.

11. Sorry & Thank you

I learned to say “Sorry” and “Thank You” only after coming to New York. (Don’t judge me. Obviously, I knew it but you hardly have to use it in India :P) People are so humble and nice here. Some days are harsh when you bump into a woman rushing in formals and she says “Get off my way, Bitch!”, and you still end up saying “Sorry” a thousand times, because it’s a habit now! Otherwise, people will always extend their arm to hold the door for you, pick up things you drop when messy and swipe MTA Card for you if your card doesn’t work for some reason.

I’ll keep adding to this list. Stay tuned. :D

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