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Life in America - Indian Software Engineer Visits USABY: Bharat | Category: Others | Post Date: 2008-08-08
Well, as a software engineer based in India and working for one of the outsourcing giant I got an opportunity to visit USA on H-1 visa for 2 years. Since this was my first trip to United States (infact my first trip abroad ever), I had several experiences which I found quite interesting and thought I will share with you guys ( .. Ahmm ... girls too).
1. Good money:
It was nice to fulfill my dollar dreams and earn money quicker than I would have made in India ( 1 dollar = 41 Indian Rupees). It was nice to boast a bit about my USA trip. We all already know too much about this so I will pass on the next point..
2. Green Card:
In the first year every Indian guy think he will work in USA for 2-3 years, make money and then go back. After the completion of 1st year most tend to apply for their Green Card ( or permanent residency) and become kind of open minded to stay in either country. As time passes on, willingness to continue to stay in United States increases.
3.Desi's hate Desi's: Do you believe this !!
Contrary to my initial belief, I was surprised to find this out that unknown Indians do not like each other too much, I had actually thought that Indian people would like each other more in a foreign country. Let me clarify, people who you know well are not jealous of you, you still share a good relationship with them, but if you go in shopping malls, library or grocery stores, there will be Caucasians (white or gora people) who will say "Hi!" to you, but when you cross an unknown desi, they will 99% times ignore you. They will not mind to say "Hi!" to other white guys but just not Indians (Why ??). Indian software Engineers hate working under Indian Managers because most Indian managers try to assign more work to their Indian counterparts then others. When interviewing a candidate for a job, Indians will ask the most difficult questions to fellow desi's than they would ask to people from other communities. the only time I had a more friendlier experience was when I went to an Indian community mela / function.
4. Food Smell:
Americans do not like the typical strong Indian masala food smell especially when it is being made (especially the tadka smell), infact their nose are just too sensitive. Most Americans cannot handle spicy food, infact if you go to an Indian restaurant you have to specify the level of spice and chilly you want in your food (hot, medium or spicy), medium-hot is what we Indians eat at home. Gora people call half Indian of Indian dishes as "CURRY".
5. Availability of Indian food:
Although there are places like "Bay Area" in California, places in Chicago, New York and a few more which are considered hub of Indian population, you will get very nice and cheap Indian food. Most places outside these core Indian hubs, there are not very great Indian food options available. In India we have Indianised version of Burgers and Pizza's but in USA, you will find just the standard versions which I found a bit boring. In America you will find a variety of cuisines in every city like Mexican, Chinese (not Indian Chinese), Italian etc ... You will probably not find them tasty the first few times but later you kind of develop taste for them. Vegetarians can have a tough time teating outside. Beef and pork can be present in many foods so if you are concerned then it's better to check in advance. Indian grocery stores are located all over country and there is no need to get Aachar, masalas and spices from India, you get everything here.
6. Racism.. Not Much:
Racism in America is quite low especially when compared to UK, there are people who you may find a bit racist but their percentage is quite low. They certainly do not like the idea of people on H1 and L1 visa's as most consider that those visa's are taking their jobs away. Similarly, American's are also not too happy when they are transferred to Call Centers in India because many representatives have a strong Indian accent.
7. High Alcohol Consumption:
It is very common for Indian bachelors to group up at one of their friend's place and then drink beer, whiskey etc.. and basically over drink and get "TALLI". That's when they talk about their girl friends back in India, or family, college life or they may just make fun of their office colleagues.
8. Exaggerated Resume:
Many software engineers who were especially working for Desi consulting companies and were new to US, are often told to exaggerate things in their resume. Some go even to an extent of showing false US work experience, but this practice seems to be slowing down a lot.
9. American's love Cats and Dogs:
Most Americans are pet lovers and many will have one themself. They treat them like their own child and can actually spend a lot of money on them. A women in my group has a family of 4 and a dog, if you ask her she says I have 5 family members (including the dog), well I prefer not to make fun even though I find it a bit odd. I have seen people treating their dog on his (dog's) birthday. Guys usually like dogs, girls like both cats and dogs. Now an bit nasty part: if you are walking with your dog in a park or walkway and dog decides to "poo", you are supposed to clean it up and most people with dogs carry a bag along for the same.
10. American workers value life outside work:
It was not uncommon for an American colleagues to take a day off because they had to take their dog for a medical checkup or is their child had a soccer match. If an American person is told to work on a weekend, he does not appreciate it very much. Most people are quite sincere during their 8 hours of work.
11. Desi's love to visit tourist destinations:
In my short stay of 2 years I was able to see Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Niagara Falls. Most Americans I met had not been to many places even though they were much elder than me. They do like to do for camping, hiking, fishing etc..
12. Lonely Desi Bachelors:
It is not easy to make a white American girl friend and there is a great scarcity of desi bachelor girls. You can have a better flirt/love life in India than in United States. I did go to some disc clubs many times but was no match in front of tall and muscular American males. Although some lucky desi's are successful in making Indian or American girl friends. Some Indian guys go to strip clubs to see topless women dancing on poles and very few go after illegal prostitutes.
It is not difficult to drive in USA but it takes a while (say 1 year) to understand all rules and get a good understanding of the system. Many stated do not allow cell phone use while driving. I would recommend to take 1 or 2 driving lessons ( about 75 dollars each), although many other desi's will tell you it's a waste of money.
14: Get ready for your Name Disection:
Most Americans will not be able to pronounce your name correctly, they said my name "Bar-Hat" or even "Bhar-Rat" instead of "Bharat". Long South Indian names like "Venkateshwar", "BalaSubramaniam" suffer even bigger casualties, you may sometimes be better of comming up with a short Nic name if needed. When you have both Americans and Indians in a group, speak in English instead of local language.
15. General living:
I was able to pay almost all my bills electronically, there was no question of bribing someone to get a work done. Houses and apartments are all made out of wood and not concrete, so walk gently and do not speak too loudly otherwise your neighbour may complain. Most Americans love to talk and can really go on for a long time if they get a good listener. When trying to talk with Americans you will be better off by not talking to fast, try to talk slowly and clearly. I personally would suggest you to get a cell phone (prepaid is fine), a credit card (may be secure credit card) and apply for SSN at the earliest. Roads are clean and well maintained. Unlike India where you can basically ask anyone "Why did you get divorced", "How much do you earn", "How old are you" ,"You are 35 .. MY GOD when will you marry"... Frankly American people do not like too much interference in their personal life. Divorces are common, Americans do not save much money and they are very spontaneous shoppers. Very few Americans may be rude but most are very nice. If you lose your direction, stop by any petrol pump (gas station) and get help from the store owner. If you sit in a restaurant and eat then leave 10-20% tip for the waiter (a general trend), for carry out ( or parcel orders) it's not necessarily needed. For fast food places like McDonalds, KFS and Burger king, no need to leave tips.
I do not want to pretend "over smart" or "preacher", do what you like, but I just thought of share a my own view and experience, which may be different from other Indian Guys who have been to United States.
... Ahhh .. and my parents can "BOAST" ... "AAJI HAMARA BETA TO US RETURN HAI" ( My son has been to USA) .. as if it is a big deal anymore :D )
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