Thursday, December 15, 2011

You know you have arrived in the US of A when....

I guess this post would make more sense to NRIs in the US. I have lived there for 5 years so I know.. :D

You know you’ve “arrived” in the United States of America when:

You hear a faint American accent (already?) while thanking the Visa interviewer at the Chennai Consulate for your visa. 

You ask the stewardess for extra I-94 forms because each time you make stupid mistakes while filling it but only because you are so nervous that you will say something wrong at immigration that will make you sound like a terrorist and then they will have to deport you and all your friends will laugh at you.

You gladly fill out immigration forms for complete strangers (after you have correctly filled in yours on the 4th attempt). ‘Uncle-Aunty’ look like they just walked out of a coffee table magazine complete with turban and ‘Anarkali’ outfit and ask you in a language you don’t understand, to please fill in their I-94. But you get the idea when they plop the form, their passport and a big toothy smile onto your face. Expect them to roll their eyes if you don't have the pen though. 

You’re sent for luggage screening at Immigration because your suitcase is filled with mummy’s delicacies- Ladoos that look like hand grenades and dry meat that’s prohibited. Never mind that you lied when you answered No to “Are you carrying food items?”

All you do is multiplication. From American Dollars to Indian Rupees.  From the moment your plane lands and until you realize it’s pointless. You are always up to date on the current exchange rate up to three decimal points and you feel the pain when you pay $3 for something that actually costs Rs.30! 

You stress out about the 15% tip. 15%!!! Now not only do you have to convert your bill amount into Rupees, you have to calculate your 15% tip on your bill amount and then convert the tip amount into Rupees. *Sigh*

You meet your first Amway soul-mate. Walking down Walmart’s home section, wide eyed, and eager, mentally designing and decorating your one bedroom apartment, you see a desi person making eye contact. You are so thrilled; you have to stop yourself from hugging him. But then he hugs you (almost), talks and talks and introduces you to all his family members and then welcomes you to his house, which turns out to be the direct marketing company’s headquarters. Make money while you drink this cola. Make money while you brush your teeth. And then make more money when you stalk more desi people.

Your smoke alarm goes off while deep frying those samosas and the firefighters are on location in less than 10 minutes! Nothing to worry, you will soon learn how to remove the batteries, open the windows or cover the smoke alarm with aluminum foil. Never say never!

You start minding your manners. Who knew you had it in you to open doors for strangers and to say Thank you to someone who holds the elevator open for you. No, we never had to do that in India.

You start cutting off over friendly desi strangers at the mall because you have been a victim of too-many ‘Amway-like’ propositions.

You say hello to perfect strangers. You’re cool like that. A quick nod and then continue walking. Unlike the first time when you stopped in your tracks and asked the person who greeted you, “I’m OK but who are you?”. But Shhh! No one has to know that. 

You have a dedicated corner of your apartment to house the holy curry leaf plant. Yes, not the tulsi/holy basil, but the curry patha/vepala. And when it grows as big as a tree, you bless another new desi family with a potted one.

You (ab)use the return policy that retail stores offer. The first couple times you turn red in the face but it only gets easier. Yes, this is what they call retail therapy. Buy, swipe, feel like a Goddess, faint when the bill comes, then return half the stuff. Phew! But only within 90 days.  

You learn to say raowte for route, skhedule for schedule, intersection for junction, street for road, apartment for flat and tuh-mae-to for tomato. Ofcourse there is sem-I and ant-I instead of (semy and anty)

You become a coupon cutter. Even for 25 cents. But why not? 

You realize that another man’s trash is your treasure. Nothing can give you a high like garage sales and used stuff ("like brand new") on ebay. 

If you know of any others, feel free to add them in the comments! BTW,I still say raowte for route.


  1. I wanted to write a post naming Desi for a long long time. But I can hardly write anything beyond 100 words. I know the in and out of AMWAY type people. These are only desis who will say HI to you.

    Great post, enjoyed reading it...

  2. Anonymous9:44 am

    it was fun to read :D. every time i see a new post from u, i know its going to be interesting.

  3. Saru, please do pen a poem on it.. I am sure it will be witty and enjoyable!

  4. Deb, being the self critical me.. I felt it was a little too long.. Maybe I could have edited it a little more... but I was too impatient to click "publish".. :)

  5. Anonymous7:06 pm

    nie reading Cna :-) I remember that we used to search the newspapers and internet for any small discounts available and queued up before the shop even before they opened

  6. i enjoy reading this and it is amusing too! this is my first time stepping on your blog and i found that there are lots incredibly written posts of yours here :)

    i shall come again to read the rest. feel free to hit me back :) stay connected :)

  7. :-) good one ...
    It was fun going through the list.
    Happy Holidays!

  8. zradar, you;re right, the discounts are always great, its too tempting!

  9. Inspector Sahab, Welcome! Thanks for reading and will definitely stop by your soon. :)

  10. Hi Madhu, glad it made you smile.. :) Happy holidays!

  11. I will try it, it will be super fun:)

  12. laughing hard at the conversion troubles

    the alarm bit reminded me of Phoebe's struggles. you seen that?

    "i'm ok but who are you" - :DDD

    m still smiling while searching for the 'publish comment' button

  13. Sujatha, you just made my day(I was having such a miserable one). I am totally in awe of your writing style- straight from the heart and it means a lot that you took time to read and comment on this post. :D

  14.'ve nailed it!! This is just too funny! My Amway encounter was this guy who acted friendly at the mall and got himself invited to our apartment with his family. And, he showed up with a white board and a business plan!!!
    To think, I had even made chaat and pani-puri for the scammers!! At least, you got a free cola..

  15. @Neelam: Board and a business plan.. talk about being meticulous! We can never escape the wrath of these people..