I wanted to visit United States of America ever since but could not for one reason or the other, and now here I am in Boston USA. I was quite scared before leaving home as heard many stories of mistreatment en-route and on US airports. But to my surprise it turned out to be a pleasant experience. I was asked few extra questions at Heathrow before boarding, and this is it. Some passengers were subjected to extra searches (I guess at random) as most were white Americans & included young, old, men & women. The queues were long at immigration after landing at Logan Boston. However officers dealt with everyone quickly. Fingerprints & photos were taken of every non-US citizen but there was no extra questioning.
As I came out, I was approached by a Moroccan shared-van driver (there are shared-vans at airport that take you to destination at slightly cheaper price than taxis). I shared this van with two people from Saudi. Environment turned to be quite izlamik inside. They spoke to each other in Arabic. I asked the Moroccan driver how he feels living in US after Sept 11? He seemed satisfied, saying life goes on as usual for Muslims here. It gets disturbed when any incident occurs. Generally American people don’t bother with you but are a cautious now than before.
Weather is sweltering hot now days, temperature is 35c plus, just like April in Pakistan. It is difficult to walk in the sun. No wonder Americans are literally out of clothes, well almost!
I’m staying in a small town Tewksbury, just outside Boston. USA is a huge country (2 & half times bigger than whole European Union). People are heavily reliant on cars for mobility (US is the largest carbon dioxide emitter from fuel). I wanted to use public transport but it is not possible because nearest train station is about 10 miles and taxi is expensive, so I have to rent a car! Driving is on the right side; let’s see how I perform, or how others view it, more precisely (will update you in next post). Public transport is not well developed here because there are too few people living too far apart. I wonder what happen when we run out of fuel?
I was watching TV & noticed that times are shown as 8/7c. I was baffled what it means. Then I realized that it meant 8 o’clock Eastern Time and 7 o’clock Central time. USA is divided into 4 time zones namely Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific, each one an hour later from previous.
USA broke off from Britain, its mother country in 1776. It had 13 states originally, more states were added later through war or acquisition. It is the 3rd biggest country area-wise (9.60 million Sq KM) & also population-wise (310 million). Interestingly US’s biggest neighbour Canada is of same size (10.00 million Sq KM) but has 10 times less population (33 million). US has 50 states now, 48 are connected, Hawaii consists of islands, and Alaska is situated 1000’s miles away near Russia (after crossing Canada). US is such a huge country that it has all type of terrain from hills to lands and lakes. Climate varies from state to state so does rules, traditions and behaviour.
Ethnic groups are as, white 80%, black 13%, Asian 5% (includes Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, etc), and natives 1%. Out of all these 15% are Hispanic origin (means persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, etc). In terms of religion, Protestant are 51%, Roman Catholic 24%, Mormon 1.7%, Jews 1.7%, and Muslims 0.6%.
Culture, habits, living, regulations, religion are similar to or originated from British since their forefathers came from UK. Though whites, referred to as Caucasians come not only from England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland but also from Germany, France & Italy.
USA has borders with only two countries Canada (in north) & Mexico (in south). Two other borders are with North Atlantic Ocean (called East Coast) & North Pacific Ocean (called West Coast).
People are very friendly & open, much more than Europeans. They would greet you and chat with as you walk around. It is common to say “You are ya Duu-aan” (how are you doing) on meeting. Old English used to say “how do you do” on meeting if you remember. I guess it originated from there.
Suburban houses are huge with many rooms and garage. There is a big lawn all around the house.
You will find all types of restaurants here & I visited many of these (photos in separate blog). Service is very friendly & informal. Waiter will ask you at your table how you found the food and chat with you, it is almost non-existent in Europe. And why shouldn’t they? 15% tip is compulsory! Food portions are huge. Price is a bit cheaper compared to Europe.
Numbers are commonly used in the names of streets, roads, shops and restaurants, for example Yummy36, Motel6, 88Chinese Chowmien, Route 54, 7th St East. It helps sometimes as you would know how far 7th St is if you are standing on 5th St.
I visisted a classic cars show where people had brought all sorts of fancy old cars. This guy was so much into Knigh Rider that he had trsnformed his car exctly like it.
Next I’m going to White House, Capitol Hill. Wait for the Story & Pictures.
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