Tuesday, January 15, 2008

All About America (AAA) - Part 1

Starting with this one I will present America through the eyes of an F1 student from India. This will be a multi-part series.

  • America, though may refer to the continent, is referred to USA within the country also.
  • They drive on the right side of the road with left hand drive.
  • Most of the cars have automatic gears - so no clutch. This also means they consume a lot of fuel (a lot of energy is used up in the automatic gears). This also means that slamming the accelerator will not immediately increase the speed.
  • Public transport(inter-city) is almost non-existant(not that intra-city is great either, in major cities like NY & DC it's 'ok' but not every place else). The only pan-America means of 'public' transport are Greyhound(bus service) and Amtrak(rail). This is because almost everyone has cars(on average one household has 3 cars) and road services are excellent. Highways are awesome and you can get from point A to point B at an average speed of 50 miles an hour. Every city/town has a by-pass, and driving in a new area is just not possible. You have to plan which exits to take and where. This is aided by online maps like Google Maps, which will give you road-by-road distance, estimated times and exact locations as to where to take turns, etc. GPS handhelds are also very popular.
  • Each state has its own set of laws and can vary very widely when just crossing borders. Due to the history of the US, each state has its own liberty to a large extent. In conversation with an American friend I found that it is the responsibility of the town to fund and maintain a police force. So if a town can't afford a police force, there is no effective police.
  • Rugby as played here is called Football. Football as we know it is called Soccer. The irony is their Football doesn't involve the foot even as much as Rugby does. All the while, Americans are obsessed with sport. Football is most popular; Baseball is a favourite pastime; Basketball season starts when winter sets in, after the end of the Baseball season, mainly because it can be played indoors; Soccer has a good following too. They are very very loyal to their local teams. Local teams usually mean teams from a university and teams from major cities. eg: Cleveland Browns; University of Florida Gators, so almost all universities have their own team. Whichever sport, they don't mind spending some money to come out to support their teams.
  • This in turn means there is atleast one football match at any given time all weekend; there are football matches on weekdays too; so you can keep yourself occupied with football all the time. Also every university has its own grounds for all the sports.
  • There's lots of space in America, so instead of building to the sky, you might as well build on the ground itself. There are malls, some small(half a soccer field) to really big ones. Of course, this is the land of skyscrapers too... They stretch as far as the eye can see....
  • Pricing is a bit funny: 99% of the items in malls do not have the price printed when procured from the manufacturer; so if you search for a price on the product, all you will find is the retailer's sticker. I.e. there is no price printed on the product, which means the retailer is free to charge how much ever he wants for that product. So a loaf of bread can cost $1.29 at one store and the same loaf can cost $2.39 in another store. The consumer has no clue about 'cost effectiveness' by looking at the cost from one store. The only items to have prices displayed on them are <$2, like peanuts for $0.99 and Lays also for $0.99. A similar discrepancy exists for items such as cameras, laptops and almost everything. An example is though the 'suggested retail price' on a jacket was $100, the selling price was just over $50. So it's up to the store to make money as it wants. The price between stores can vary as much as 40%, online. And yes, a lot of things are bought online. Generally things are cheaper on the internet (because they don't include dealership fees, I guess). With Google Checkout and PayPal and eBay and Amazon.com items can be bought cheaply and quickly. Courier services, namely US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS are very good in service, helping fuel online sales further.
  • Malls, I noticed, have as much parking space as they have floorspace. I was later told there were laws requiring some ratio of area as parking space. Which means parking in these places isn't too much of a problem, but shows that there are so many cars around and land is aplenty.
  • There is a legal right(fundamental right) to own guns. It's as simple as walking into a store, paying money and walking out with your own gun. It does fuel violence, but this right is backed by a powerful National Rifle Association, which said after the Virginia Tech massacre, "...this could have been avoided if everyone in the university had a gun of their own..." Ironically though, it is illegal to carry firearms into most buildings. So basically that means you can own keep a gun inside your house and vehicle.
  • Going to jail is apparently no big deal: I once overheard a group of persons having this conversation: "... you ever been to jail?" "yeah, once, I was driving drunk..." "you know my brother was arrested for DUI(Driving Under Influence, i.e. drunken driving), and he cried the whole night!" Mind you, the first two were girls.

More in part 2.....

1 comment:

the Monk said...

hey, great post, man...keep writing...