Sunday, March 15, 2009

Americanism: Strange truths

I would start this the exact same way as I started my previous post but I think I’ll just refrain before people start pounding me for fake statements!

In my first week here, my uncle advised me to write a log of how I see America now because “you will never experience America the way you do the very first time”. Now I wish I actually had done that and not weakly succumbed to my notorious laziness.

Among the several new things to get adapted to, drinking from water fountains and taps was the hardest. Having lived half my life in Chennai, I am used to seeing muddy water every time I turn the tap on. And then there are the cliché questions- “Hey how come you speak such good English? Don’t you speak Indian?” or “Have you watched Slumdog Millionaire? What a phenomenal movie!” Whatever happened to knowledge of world history, 200 years of British Colonization of India and such. One American thing I still have trouble getting is the road sense- having seen cars keep left always, its really hard to think straight when you’re keeping right (I slide down to the left side of the back seat to feel better. Sigh!) And the small things like first floor, second floor and so on without ground floor. There are the rather funny accent-mishaps, of course- Route(root) verses Route(rout), OB-ser-VAT-ory versus Ob-SER-va-TOR-y, Z(zed) versus Z(zee)! And the damn exchange rate which makes us, the mindless, shrimp-brained shopaholics also think. Think twice or maybe five times before spending $1.04 on a worthless pack of Lays that was available in India for Rs.10.

Surprisingly, but thankfully, the infamous Madison winter and I got along very well, far from my dread. People still ask me why I chose to go to school in Wisconsin when I had the convenient alternative of Los Angeles. But where else can you witness an innocent twenty minute walk out in the cold turning water in a bottle into ice! Ice skating, skiing, ice fishing, walking on the frozen lake- each one is a different experience! Next winter I want to be a part of the Polar Plunge!  But of course, the bitter truth of the world is Newton’s third law; every coin has two sides. Bundling up for ten minutes to go out and throw trash for two minutes is an unbelievable pain in the butt.

I must say, I was just paranoid for no reason about missing home food. Had I never heard of “Freshman-20”? In my case, the phenomenon should be redefined as “(Poor-Indian-)Grad-Student 6”! Of course, my paranoia about infrequent chocolates and ice cream treats is entirely justifiable; although Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has their best for $1.39, who really wants to feel cold in the tummy when it is freezing outside.

If you have read my previous post, you probably are thinking that the white world has made me more cheerful, but that is probably because I am going to India for a month this summer! I have started making a list of all the interesting things I want to do in that short span. That will go up soon on the blog. And by soon, I mean this weekend, I promise! ;)


jbhushan said...

hmmm i am very hurt.. v still haven't been mentioned in the blog.. America seems more imp sadly..but the blog ash i miss ur english... awesome insight..

Ashwini said...

The next one is going to have you guys in it :) But I don't know what you mean by you miss my English and awesome insight :)

Amar said...

hahaha .. loved this one babe .. Wish I could go to India as well .. Cant wait to read ur next blog :)

Pooja Adiga said...

this is better than your first one.. i love the way u wrote this one! :)

Ashwini said...


But you won't be in it Puch :)


Thanks dummi :)

Divya said...

good one.. everythin i wanted to blog is here... but not a mention of me.. i am like an integral part of ur US extravaganza.... :( :( damage caused.. wont settle for my name in any other blog posts..!!

Manish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manish said...

"Dont you speak Indian?"
Little do they know that we have a lot over 15 languages here! And none of them are called "Indian" :P

Ashwini said...


Damage caused anthe :) haha!


Haha! You'll have similar experiences in 6 months!

Raghu Sethuram said...

hmm... nice blog :) you forgot the most important part .. "the free food " part!!!!!!!!
that should have been the priority no.1

Ashwini said...


so true! che

Sadashiv said...

So true!..To add some more ..
Still cant figure out when they say its 30 Fahrenheit or 20 miles or gallons..Thumbs down to these units!

Hmm..I agree to that zee and zed conflicts...No wonder zee tv took its name frm here ;)..And ofcourse our math wrt multiplication with 50 ,51,52..(No! i cant take more of this!! :(.. ) has greatly improved..

Hey! u forgot to write abt Mr V!..

Ashwini said...


Haha! So true! I do not want to corrupt/adulterate my blog with the mention of Mr.V!

And you're so right about the multiplications. I do NOT want to learn 53 tables now :'(

Arvind said...

The new set of alphabets one has to learn when asked to spell your name - A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo, T as in Tango etc etc....what ever happened for A for apple!!!

But I can outdo one of the cliches - "Don't you speak Indian?" Well imagine my surprise when an Indian asks me if I speak SOUTH INDIAN!!!

Ashwini said...


Oh my GOD!! I could not even have imagined that!