Welcome to the US of A

It has been two years since I set foot in the US, and I must confess, either a lot has changed or my tolerance has waned in the interim.


  • No matter how close to the front my seat assignment on a plane is, I always (and I mean always) manage to fall in the last boarding group. This generally means my carry-on gets confiscated, dumped in the stow away, and is the last to be pulled off the plane and conveyed to the baggage carousel. So much for a quick airport exit. 
  • Domestic flights do not offer on-board food service, and entertainment is limited to one movie displayed on the tiny main screens.
  • Southern California feels like it's exclusively minorities. I'm all for the melting pot, but what happened to the fair skinned folk?
  • Public transportation in Boston needs a serious face lift: it's unpredictable, inconsistent, and so pathetically slow compared to its European counterparts'. Only now have they started posting times of the next trains in some major stations.
  • Yes, obesity is a real problem here, especially in Southern California. Fast food nation says it all.
  • Food portions are too big. I'm a fan of fair serving sizes, but too much is just pushing it.
  • Desserts and excessively sugary are synonymous. A muffin is essentially a giant cupcake sans the frosting.
  • Apparently, a 20% tip is standard, even if the service is unexceptional. What ever happened to the 10% threshold?
  • Toll roads on freeways: utter nonsense.

In many ways, though, it's still the land of opportunity:


  • Free wifi is almost ubiquitous: in the mall, at restaurants and cafes, inside supermarkets, and even in common areas (thank you, Smart Riverside). It's as it should be: a right, not a privilege.
  • Internet speeds are insanely fast. I won't even attempt a comparison: there's no contest.
  • Coffee is cheap. The original roast at Starbucks comes in under $2 for a tall. Compare that with Lebanon's 5,000LL ($3.33)
  • You rarely need reservations at restaurants.
  • Dining out is affordable. Many mains are priced at around $10 at mid-range places.
  • Happy hours are longer (generally in two phases: 3-6 pm and 10 pm-closing) and involve half price on appetizers in addition to reduced prices on drinks. Every restaurant that wants to stay in business offers terrific lunch and happy hour deals (TGIF advertises 2 for $10; that is, an appetizer and a main for just $10). Oh, and did I mention Taco Tuesday?
  • Tex Mex food is authentic and finger-licking good. Yard House's generous chicken nachos are a must, and at $5 during happy hour, this could easily become my daily nosh.
    Photo courtesy: http://devourhouston.blogspot.com/
  • People drive calmly and respectfully. Pedestrians are yielded to even when still in the sidewalk.
  • Sales are real: if Macy's promises door busters after Thanksgiving, then you can count on good deals.
  • Movie theaters offer matinee showtimes beginning at 9:45 am. 
  • Every venue offers free public parking. Valet is for the faint of heart.
  • Dollar stores are really just that: everything is $1!


    1. AKH you made me miss Merica :(
      I lovee the Texmex food in Socal, and the sales... oh lord the sales!!!!


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