Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quick Update

So I had a few minutes and thought I'd just jot down some random thoughts: 

* Ann Arbor is such a pretty little place. There's a summer festival going on, went to it and there was a lively band. This kind of tradition, I love. 

*I say summer festival, but frankly, it's nothing like summer over here - it's quite cold, as a matter of fact, but in a great 'Bangalore chilly' kind of way - requires just a light jacket in order to feel comfortable. It's raining today, but not the depressing kind of rain. All in all, a perfect respite from the heat of Delhi summer!

*Some people have turned out quite nice, the opposite of the initial experience with the Americans - particularly the waiters, as a matter of fact. 

*It's incredibly nice being with the family - my brother-in-law, sis-in-law, and their two kids. The younger one, turning 1 in July, makes Peanut look like a complete angel - he's so full of energy, he's always in trouble, crawling here, there and everywhere. I described him to my brother-in-law today as a 'series of heart attacks'. 

* They have an amazingly beautiful house - it's large, yet cosy and comfortable, convenient and clean, and in a very nice, pleasant neighbourhood. 

*Tonight, my sis-in-law and I hope to sneak out and go somewhere leaving the men behind to babysit the kids. Unlike yesterday, when all six of us went out to a pub and there was havoc all over the place, especially because Peanut and little Adi were cranky, sleepy and generally annoyed with life. 

Ok got to go now! Everybody has descended upon me in the computer room...


  1. hey i agree with the commentor who said that because of different cultures some people have different expectations and dont know how to handle the different cultural connotations. eg I've seen some Indians on international flights trying to treat the airhostesses like their personal ayahs and trying to order them about and then being corrected pretty sharply, the thought process then goes "whaaat, I've bought tickets and paid good money for service and this airhostess is not listening to me and my pretty normal demands- this is racism". Not saying all airhostesses are holier than thou LOL but i'm sayin it happens.

    About the airport officials dont know details of your story but the number one priority of customs officials is to protect the borders and keep the country safe(as is of the airhostesses in american flights, they say we are here for your safety(1st) and comfort(2nd) - of course you can do it in a polite way, but what struck me on my numerous trips into and out of the US is that whereas nearly all service employees in the US(waiters etc.) smile and small-talk/banter/joke a lot, the customs etc people at airports rarely ever smile - whether you are white or brown or black, its all abt business. Also the US airport entry policies are very much divided into US Citizens/perm residents vs no-citizens/non-residents (eg me being indian but a permanent resident was welcomed back into the US after my 1st trip back from India with a "Welcome Home"(this is the standard lines spoken by all the border/customs people at airports to all US citizens/perm res) - I was so happy and felt so accepted! Have also heard from some of my friends who are non-citizens/non perm res that even after living in the US for 5-6 years they still had to stand in the aliens line (i think that is what its called) and they felt so rejected and unwanted. My point being, the US being an immigrant country seems people at its borders are classified as citizens/permanent residents vs non citizens/non perm residents(not color but citizen/residency status), and this colors their airport entry policies.

    As I said earlier in my opinion all places in the world have some variation of discrimination ("I didnt get that promotion in Boston coz I dont share the same WASP culture as my boss and team mates AND I didnt get that promotion in Blore coz I'm from IIT and my boss is from a REC and he's jealous of me"). I will be living in India again and am looking fwd to it, however I know am going to have to face the constant sexual harassment(eve-teasing) that I know I'm going to get, but the rewards and joys of living in India will hopefully outweigh.

    Glad to know you are enjoying your stay in ann-arbor, abt the waiter thing ya they smile a lot and most places have great service, however have seen some (not all) some treating waiters not-so-politely (ordering them about) but I'm sure you would never do that. Hope you see more of the US than the mid-west and hope you have a great time.

  2. Hello Annie :-)

    I also agree with that commentor, by the way - and I've heard that description before -from an Australian tour operator who said that Indian tourists rarely treated him well. It's just that I don't agree with the implication that maybe I was also doing the same and feeling mistreated because my whims were not being catered to - for the record, I only behave that way with my husband :-)

    Accha, and on the airport officials thing - it's not about business-like, its' about plain rude...similarly with the airhostess thing - so rest assured about that!

    Finally, I saw in your earlier comment that you seem really worried about the eve-teasing thing - just wanted to let you know I've grown up in Delhi and faced lots of it before - but for some reason, over the last year since I've been here, it's been pretty cool - perhaps because there's less of the DTC bus thing now that I'm out of college. Don't know where you're going to settle down, but there's possibly a chance you may be pleasantly surprised so just chill and go with the flow!

  3. hmm, I really hope I'm pleasantly surprised, but i travel to india every year and the attitudes and actions havent changed.(you are right that the sexual harassment/eveteasing really affected me while i was living in india, i felt like a 2nd class citizen in my own country, and felt like slapping every idiot who ever touched me without my permission, but i'm older now so hopefully will deal with it more strongly). Your experiences regarding airhostesses/airport ppl are your's so of course will respect your point of view, just wanted to present another point of view. Also wanted to say thank you for giving me the space to present my opinions on your blog space, and have a great vacation.

  4. just found your blog...

    you write very well!

  5. Sorry to bust your bubble, but if you judge a country's culture by the way the immigration counter dude treats you, then my foreign friends would say that they would take the next flight back home after going through the indian immigratoin counters. Having visited several countries (developed and poor), I can say that the Indian immigration counter guys are amongst the worst - and thankfully no one judges Indians based on their behaviour. They are uncouth, lack communication skills (note: NOT language skills), don't treat people with respect and dignity and dont give a shit about the seriousness of their job in protecting our borders.

    Anyway, glad that you realized the gross generalisation of your first impressions. In fact a majority of Indian visitors have the exact same first impression (incl me), without realizing how screwed up our own country's policies and procedures are. I am sure there is no question in anyone's mind that the USA has by far the friendliest, safest policies for immigrants.

    My boss (who moves amongst the highest political, social and business circles) will tell you how badly he and his family are treated almost every other time they come back to India (He is european, but lives in India). The immi counter dude scribbles some alphanumeric shit on his passport and he is expected to be able to decrypt what it is and write it down exactly the next time he enters India and everytime the guy creates a havoc if the scribble is not decrypted correctly. And then there is the local police who treat him like shit every 6 months when he goes to register at the FRO. Imagine if this happens to Premji or Murthy - TOI will go nuts!

    Bottom line - You are a visitor in someone else's country. If you dont like the way they run their country, get the hell out of there!!


  6. M.I.B,

    Ha ha. You're quite rude while you make your point - the point itself I am not disputing, of course - except that I never compared them to our own policies and procedures - was comparing them to common decent behaviour. What do you mean 'sorry to bust your bubble'? Which bubble do you imagine you are busting? I already said that the first impression was not borne out by later experiences, right? Or was that just for effect?

    Anyway, the tone's a bit surprising coming from you, considering you said you're an Indian who 'had the exact same first impression'. But then I don't know you, since you choose to be anonymous, which is always a little annoying.

    Only thing I can tell you - the last line of your comment applies to this blog, too - you're a visitor here - if you don't like it, get the hell out of here!

    P.S - I quite like America. New York is fun.

  7. M.I.B - one more thing. After a conversation with a couple of friends who stay here, I wanted to tell you that YOU made quite a gross generalization about the U.S policies being the friendliest etc etc.

    My friend claims that when he landed in Michigan, he was asked by an official

    'What have you come to steal from our country'?

    In shock, he said 'excuse me?'

    The question was repeated louder 'What have you come to STEAL from our country'. He meant of course, jobs that should 'rightfully' belong to Americans.

    This still may be an extreme case and not representative - still, why can't people realize that an 'impression' is exactly that - people's judgments are formed on the basis of their OWN experiences.

    A little respect for that basic point would be nice.

  8. Is your Michigan friend still working in the US? If so, ask him why? He'll probably tell you that America gave him the best possible welcome he could get (personally & professionally) including his own country. Of course, there are idiots everywhere, more so in bible and rust belts in the US. I would not be surprised if your friend marched in Washington among tens of thousands of Indian immigrants toting banners that asked for change in the US immigration policies. Name 3 other countries where one can do this in a peaceful manner with full police protection and still be able to go back to your job the next day and talk about how NFL is the best sport in the world!!! Heck I cant even do that in my own country!!!Here one would shudder to even discuss in public whether Modi should eliminate prohibition, let alone march against it! My friends are afraid to hold their husbands' hands in a bus stop in Mangalore or walk into a mosque in mysore.

    The problem is people expect the whole of the US to be like Disneyland and they are disappointed when they encounter something out of whack..And yet the same guys hang on to everything else in the US....Put up fake resumes to get that H1B...hang on to jobs way past their expiry dates because their green card process is dependent on that job..Hang on to their green cards because their citizenship is in process. There is no other country in the world where people do crazy things to get a citizenship. Maybe Canada, but thats because of the same guys who take out a Canadian or Australian citizenship as insurance policies in case something goes wrong with their H1B or green card process!!

    I am anonymous, because you are giving me the option to be one. Also, I quite like your blog..may have come across as rude because this is a one-way conversation. If we had this conversation over a cuppa, then it would have been different. Limitations of asynchronous exchanges.

    NYC is a great city, but in North America I like SF & Vancouver better. NYC comes across as very monochromatic to mee..but I am sure I am wrong on that.

  9. MIB,

    See, the thing is many parts of your comment just don't apply to me and I can't relate or comment - things like immigration marches, thinking the U.S is one big Disneyland ( is anyone really that ridiculous) and so on - am just a visitor who thought that people could have been much more polite. That's it. What has that got to do with comparing it to our country?? It's not the way I would behave ( I'm known for my politeness...ha ha ha)

    Anyway, on a serious note, since you say you enjoy the blog, I say 'peace'- just to let you know it's not a place where I do 'issues' - it's more 'fun' and I'd like to keep it that way, please. For any further discussion, email me at - since a cuppa isn't possible as you choose to remain anonymous on the blog :-)

    Peace anyway.


Hi there. Go on, say it. Well? WELL?