Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ameri-syncracies

A few endearing, sometimes puzzling, American traits:
They love to eat in big portions, right? Even the water glasses in restaurants could be used as small pails here in India. So what happens when you get on a domestic flight? They serve you these dinky little pouches of this wondrous foodstuff they call pretzels. Aaugh! I had a rather brainy theory that juice manufacturers had a secret contract with pretzel makers. Because the minute you ate a pretzel, you turned maniacally thirsty. Ergo, more and more juice. All this aside, I couldn’t get the teeny size of these snacks.
Another food related one: At a party, (at least at college parties) mostly they just serve potato chips by way of victuals. This, they call “food.” I used to tell my Indian friends that a sure way to tell if you’d been in the US too long was when you started calling potato chips “food.”
And another: on many occasions I noticed folks tucking into a double whopper burger with extra cheese and fries, accompanied by a Diet Coke. :-)
If they pass by you in a grocery store aisle, they will say “Excuse me,” even if there is a full three feet of space between the two of you. It’s all about personal space, dude.
The women obsess about their hair. They curl it, straighten it, color it, streak it, highlight it, lowlight it, crimp it, perm it. Mostly, they just want to be some shade of blonde. There are approximately 1,00,42,783 hair products available on the shelves.

I realize we, as Indians, are certainly capable of providing more than enough material for a list such as this. Among the entries will surely be the Great Indian Head Waggle, our maniacal driving, all those spices we consume, our wondrous accents, etc., etc., etc. I posit that an exchange like this would surely go a long way in promoting international understanding and harmony. Okay, maybe not understanding, exactly. But you get my drift.

15 comments:

Rupa said...

I agree with you on pretzel snacks - much as I love american food and "tradition" - grill and barbeque, tailgating and beer, thanksgiving and goodies, pizza and coke, FRIED FISH AND HUSHPUPPIES....list doesn't end

BUT

pretzels on flights will never be on my list

Rupa said...

unbelieveable though it may sound.....the fashion buzz is now that Brunettes top beauty poll !!! I guess with the whole female population turned bleach blond, its not a novelty anymore - or maybe being smart rather than dumb is back in fashion !

http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/men/news/s/160/160680_brunettes_top_beauty_poll.html

Gaurav said...

Hey, distorted facts...and u know it. That "excuse me" comes coz the person became an obstruction as they crossed between u n the biig aisle as u were glancing thru it...if those pretzels wud get any bigger, u wud complain of a bigger conspiracy with juice makers....and so on...there was an email that became quite popular with a list of these american facts...like handicapped parking in front of skating rinks...:) Why do we desis gain that sadistic pleasure with America bashing is beyond me! But hey, whatever, its fun! lol.

Rupa said...

Hey, objection is to pretzels period - small or big doesn't matter.

Actually, "excuse me" is anyday better than elbowing and glaring. However, New York is a complete B'bay in that respect - jay walking, breaking lines, elbowing, long faces, hard glares - but one of the greatest cities anyways.

I have heard that Europe is also the land of unblinking gaze and elbows.

Anonymous said...

Books abound on food and travel. In fact do believe that a genre is in place on bread & boots within single cover. Most speak of the exotic (authentic Suleimani chai in the by lanes of Ishfahan; sigh!!!)
But if you must read about say, Bhusawal (that strange rail head city in central India) suggest ‘Travels with the fish’ by C.Y. Gopinath (Harper Collins 1999) Unpretentious and quite a jolly read.

devikamenon said...

Gaurav, did you not read the very first line of this piece? Lighten up, no American bashing going on here.

devikamenon said...

Anonymous,
Suleimani (authentic? dont quite know) chai is also available in the fair city of Bangalore, although must admit Ishfahan does sound more exotic. Where exactly did Suleimani chai originate anyway?
Rups, we always knew brunettes rock!;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment. Made me hit the Google search key.
Sulemani tea: recipe. There appears to be some issues about cardamom being used or not.
See link: http://food.sify.com/recipe.php?id=13261113&ctid=76&cid=13293124
This gives a recipe without the spice. However numerous sources offer it with the same included.
Origin of the word: The same website offers the ethnicity of Sulemani tea as north Indian.
Sulemani city is also the cultural capital of South Kurdistan. (Hence my belief that the tea came from there) Of course I could be wrong.
Am still looking. Do keep me posted.

Gaurav said...

Devika, did you not read the last line of the message!! Its fun, really. hahaha. But no objections to pretzels, pls. i like those. esp with oj. :-)

Rupa said...

Anonymous, you may be right with the Suleimani chai to be origionally from Suleiman !! Description of the chai from an unverified googled source is : "elixir of life, suleimani chai, the lemony black sweet tea that would aid a stomach in digesting almost any amount of greasy meaty food."

The reason you found the other website naming the suleimani chai to be from north India is probably because they are talking about the Indianized version of the suleimani chai (its an indian website), just like we have Indianized version of kabab - which a lot of Indian believe to be authentically Indian but is actually something we adopted from the many moghul (turkish and afghani) soldiers who stayed put in India even when the invading and raiding army left after every attack.

Now here's my hypothesis - Tea came to India with the British - so the "Suleimani" pathans took the Indian/british tea with them back to Suleiman (Kurdish Suleiman came to being in 1784 - so the tea could have come after that) and substituted lemon for milk (shortage of milk or a matter or preference?.)

Btw Devida, did you know that tomatoes also came to India with the British? Tickling fact - majority of vegitarian indians did not touch tomatoes for a long time as they believed that the tomato was red because it had blood and was therefore non-vegitarian.

Anonymous said...

rupa, did try to reach your blog [book club] nothing there! what gives?

devikamenon said...

Well well...my fan base maybe small. But it's devoted. AND well-read. Good gosh! I'm beginning to feel out of place on my OWN BLOG. Bawl!

Anonymous said...

On 'the movement of food' line of thought:
Had come across on the web a lecture given by Sen A. (Oxford 1993). Can’t seem to trace it now though.
Anyways, he states that the process of spoiling milk to make ‘chenna’ (is that spelt correctly?) which incidentally is the primary process of making the famous Bengali sweets also came from the Portuguese.
So much for the Bengali pride…

Rupa said...

hey you bloggers aka devida and anon - I am finally up and active - if you need further mental stimulation, please grace my blog - devida - its dedicated to our many saturday morning coffee dera's and Anon - you are by default invited as you would have been in my coffee circle if i had met you.

btw devida, that connect via book website is a scam, first you have to fill all your information 10 times as it automatically loses all information everytime you save it, and then.....

the website cons you, its not connect via book, it should be "connect via books to get a job or get a mate or ..." its definitely not meeting of the minds. And I found somebody who has not only read all stephen kings but reads only them - definitely not people i want to be exchanging niceties with.

Anonymous said...

20.15.13.1.19

first of all i feel a need to comment on the comments. i resent insinuation that blonds are dumb. now i feel a need to reveal my bias here. as a straight male i have a strong preference for brunettes (my wife included, of course). ok, done with that.

as for americanisms one has been particularly important to my psychological profile. (or something). as an immigrant i found the decribed "three feet excuse" to be extremely annoying and perplexing about 3 years ago when i just arrived. it's true - it is about personal space. but the reality is even worse i tell you than 3 feet excuse. they (americans) want you to guess what their intentions of movement are when you're in a crowded place. that means if you see someone that you may be in their way - you need to move and smile like an idiot without even being asked. a normal american will stand behind your back for maybe 10 min if they want to pass by but you won't move out of their way. sometimes i do this on purpose of course, as a way to verify my theories: they are standing behind me and i'm not budging. then, after a while i turn around, smile, pretending i just noticed their presense and move to the side, thus inidcating friendly that they may pass. and guess what? no matter how long they've been waiting there, they will still smile back and thank you (me). i don't want to get into why it's not possible for them to ask you to move out of the way - as is the norm in my motherland. mostly because i don't really know "why?", though i suspect some perverted sense of politeness has alot to do with it. but i need to get of the computer now.

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