Friday, January 02, 2009

West Coast Diaries - 1. The Trip

It was a fabulous trip. I flew in to San Francisco and flew out of Phoenix and in between drove nearly 1600 miles on the road. America is a great country to visit and the cities I hit on the way each had their own unique attractions and history.Here's a few of my general observations of my last fortnight in the United States of America:

  • Tea is a luxury. I was seated at a breakfast when the waitress asked me if I wanted coffee. I said I would prefer tea. She smiled and went to get that. It was when I got the bill I realized the coffee was complimentary, tea was $2.76 a cup. At least in San Francisco we could get tea, desiring it at pit stops on the road at those service stations was asking for the impossible.

  • People would ask me, "so where are you from?" When I would reply "Canada" they would then say, "no, originally?". I don't know why, but that bugged me.

  • At least the above people knew Canada. One guy asked me if it snowed in Canada. I mean, of all the times I got irritated at people for thinking it ONLY snowed in Canada, here was one person who had no idea where Canada was. This was in Williams, Arizona.

  • There are some good people in small town USA. I had a flat at 9 pm near Williams, Arizona (where they didn't know Canada was another country). One grocery store opener told us to come inside and offered us coffee while he called for a mechanic to fix our tire. Another brought us fries. The mechanic didn't rob us blind for having to drive 50 miles to fix a flat.

  • For some reason people assumed I am a) Indian and therefore b) vegetarian. "Bangladesh" made no sense to them. This was on the whole useful because I didn't have to explain why I was not eating the meat at restaurants and having to go into the whole Halal / Haram issue.

  • The United States has an amazing selection of consumer goods of every type, far more variety than what we get in Canada. I went to a Macy's which was 11 storeys tall!

  • Everyone thinks our healthcare in Canada has problems and praises the healthcare they get from work, but then talks about how they worried about visiting the doctor when they didn't have a job. Nearly EVERY one I met would talk about healthcare at some point.

  • Spanish has become the de-facto second language of the USA. In Disneyland and Universal Studios, every announcement and every sign was in English and Spanish. There were times when every worker I met on the road driving between cities was Hispanic.

  • People are really hoping Obama delivers. I was eating a local diner at Phoenix and some black women were watching the TV. When Obama came on screen to give a speech, they started to applaud.

  • American cars are shit. I am sorry for those of you that drive them, really. I once drove a Honda Civic all the way to Florida and back, no problem. Drive a Dodge Calibre to Tusayan from Vegas, problem!

  • Despite all the hospitality, there's nothing like home. Even if we have snow and bad weather.

    Suroor said...

    This is so interesting!

    I second that American cars are shit!

    'liya said...

    How long was the drive from San Francisco to LA?

    I want to see some photos :D

    Tammy said...

    Liya...The drive from SF to LA is like about 6 hours. I live in LA, and I like where I am living, don't see myself moving anywhere else.

    Mezba your right, Spanish is almost the second language in America. If you go to a predominately Spanish area, people think you are Mexican and they'll start speaking to you in Spanish automatically

    mezba said...

    Suroor: it was a very fulfilling trip and I saw lots and lots of stuff. 6 cities in 14 days is a bit hectic, but fun.

    Liya: that was the longest drive. It takes nearly 8 hours with traffic and winter conditions in some of the hilly areas of the highway.

    Tammy: I was not prepared for how much Spanish has become part of the life there.

    I love Toronto and cannot think of moving to the USA.

    saeeda said...

    when your stuck in the US... yu get used to the retarded parts of living here. xD

    i wanted 2 move 2 canada... mom an dad are still thinking about that. cept they dont like the snow.

    mezba said...

    Saeeda: Snow is one thing you have to deal with if you live in Canada, unless you are in Vancouver (even there it snows occassionally). However, living here one can still be in touch with one's roots. America is so big, I feel you get lost.

    Anonymous said...

    I am from BD "originally" and have lived in U.S. since 1986 I have found that people naturally are curious about where I am from.
    I am not offended when asked where are you orignally from.. I am offended when I am outright asked are you Mexican? Puerto Rican? Phillopino? or like some of your experiences, just stated speaking to me in spanish.

    A person can be in touch with there roots wherever they may reside. Our roots are internal and frankly I know some people who are "lost" living in BD.

    Ahmad said...

    Our health care is great for those who can afford it, non-existant if you don't have one.

    Glad you had a good time in the home of the brave.

    Anonymous said...

    Spanish is huge there. Everytime I'm in nyc I always get asked things by ppl that speak spanish only.

    I remember when I was in India I'd tell ppl I'm Canadian when they asked and then they'd respond 'But you look Indian?'

    mezba said...

    Anon: The reason for the offense is that they see a brown skin and imply I am not a "real" Canadian/American.

    Ahmad: lol, we actually did!

    Geeki: Oh brown people are inherently racist! Can you appreciate the irony in that comment? :-p

    Faraz said...

    I hate Dodge Calibres more than any other car in the world.

    mezba said...

    Faraz: You haven't seen Chevy Aveo!