1. “Why didn’t that guy smile at me in the elevator this morning?”
We get used to the friendly smiles and “Hey, how are you’s?” that are often exchanged between strangers in America. So when we come home, every stranger with a straight face is immediately classified as khadoos.
2. “At least I don’t have to live in fear that my neighbour might turn psycho-killer on me with a gun.”
We will never be able to understand how the United States government is so liberal with the gun laws. Any law-abiding citizen in the United States is allowed to own or carry a gun? Quite frankly, we Indians find that ridiculous. In India, only select citizens are given a license to own arms. Gun violence is at an all-time high in the U.S. If such laws existed in India, all hell would break lose.
3. “Lady, if I can smell the coconut oil in your hair and the paan in your mouth, you are standing too close.”
Maybe it’s because of India’s mammoth population and the number of people per square kilometer (436), but the concept of personal space is pretty much non-existent back home. Whether it’s the crowded local train, the queue at the movie theatre or the cars on the streets, people are constantly sticking to you. Naturally, once we come back from the States (where people are not all up in your face) it takes time to get readjusted to the ways of India.
4. “I’ve really missed hanging out with my grandfather’s cousin’s nephew’s daughter.”
In India, the family never ends. The concept of nuclear families is not as common as it is in the West. Many houses still have three generations living together. The homes are warmer. The smell of mother’s cooking is ever-present. Regular family dinners are house rules. And extended family is an important part of our lives — not always the case in the U.S.
5. “Hello, 911? Do you deliver to India?”
Kudos to America for developing a system as efficient as 911 that takes care of all emergencies. We Indians are very impressed with the concept of 911 because India lacks a system as well-known and multi-purposed. We have different emergency numbers for the ambulance, the fire station and the police — none of which we know off the top of our heads.
6. “Breakfast? Nah, I’ll just stop by a Starbucks on my way to work.”
When we return to India, it gets a little difficult to keep convincing ourselves that it’s okay to spend 250 rupees on branded coffee. Let’s face it guys, no matter how good their macchiatos are, they’re still just overpriced coffee.
7. “I don’t have to tip my cabbie, Hallelujah!”
In the U.S., it’s considered common courtesy to tip everyone from the bell boy to the cab drivers. In India, we only pay our cabbies by the metre, and it is such a relief knowing we won’t be going home with holes in our pockets.
8. “I still don’t understand America’s obsession with the Kardashians.”
Though some of us may confess to it being our guilty pleasure, most Indians just don’t understand why American television is so obsessed with a half-fabricated show circling around the lives of America’s so-called “royal family.” Who cares?
9. “Were these roads made to drive cars or play mini golf?”
Of all of the wonders in the United States, I am most envious of its roads. The wide, smooth roads are such a pleasure to drive on compared to the narrow, potholed ones back home.
10. “Have clothes always been this expensive?”
After shopping at Ross and Forever 21 in the U.S. — where you can buy a complete outfit for $15 — we come back home, walk into a Zara, look at the price tags, and laugh.
11. “My diet definitely starts tomorrow.”
The United States is notorious for its abnormally large portion sizes. French fries, heavily dressed salads, breadsticks, pizza — after days of intensive face stuffing, we can’t help but make diet resolutions while struggling to squeeze into our much too tight skinny jeans.
12. “Farewell dishwasher, you shall not be missed.”
The lifestyle in the West is very different from that in India. After having to wash our dishes, do the laundry, vacuum the house and cook our own meals, coming back to India is a real treat. Back home, many families have maids, cooks and chauffeurs to make life easier. Home is where the help is.
13. “What do you mean I can’t get a free refill?”
Once you’ve had a taste of unlimited Pepsi for $1.59, there really is no going back.
14. “Yes! There’s another holiday coming up.”
Every event is a very public affair in India. Whether it’s a wedding, a funeral or something as simple as passing an exam — the entire neighbourhood comes together to party. Well, at least the music is loud enough for everyone in the area to hear it, whether they choose to celebrate with us or not. In the U.S., the holidays are more or less limited to Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July and Halloween. Back home, every month has, at least, three holidays because that’s how many festivals we celebrate. It’s always good to come back home and get into party mode.
15. “What do I have to do to get a decent cheeseburger around here?”
We’re not all vegetarians.
16. “I can finally watch some real sports now.”
None of the American sports teams are popular in India. We watch real futbol (and refuse to call it soccer) and we’re crazy about cricket. Seriously, there is nothing better than coming back home and catching up on some cricket. No other sport can move an entire country with one billion people like our men in blue can.