Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Taste of Something Different

It is nearly the end of my stay here in the States and I'm glad I got the chance to experience it's culture and the way of living here in U.S.  It's very much different from living in England and elsewhere.   I was pretty sceptical about being here in the States, practically because I wasn't sure if my journey here would have taught me anything different from what I might have already known or thought I might have known from books or tv or any form of media.  How wrong was I! So far, people in Reston, Virginia are pretty pleasant to talk to and from what I have gathered, generally Americans have a much different way of bringing up their children (much more different than what you would have seen on Ricki Lake or Jerry Springer's stereotypical shows).  I was told Americans don't usually swear (not even by the word of 'crap') and .....children here (well in VA, esp) are 'seen & heard'.  P.S  dear asian mums (esp. s.east asian mums....) if you have seen 'Full House' (American Comedy Series), children are generally treated in the same manner similar to it.  More or less.  And the result of it is ...'Shri'. I find it quite cute when they call their kids,"Hey Bud!".  On the plus side as well, the Americans just don't stare or 'look' at you in difference to who you are regardless of race or color, wherever you go, you are talked to as if you were one of them. 

The only thing I couldn't get used to still is the way they drive on the roads in Virginia.  Red means stop unless you are taking a right turn,  keeping in mind there shouldn't be any oncoming cars from your left? The driver seats on his left but drives on the right side of the road? W-h-a-t?!! Good job is not me driving! I be like Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles where Martin was telling Hughes,"YOU'RE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!!!!!!!"

Oh, and if you're going to eat in a diner or perhaps in any other restaurant, be aware the quesadillas and fajitas or even salads are enough for two.  I don't know how I'm going to kick my legs up in handstand.  Okay, if you see me back in Brunei, just be nice to me when you see the 'pounds' on me.....or it be low boat pose for 2 minutes when you step back in class!!!! (Evil laugh coming on......... just kidding!)

Pity I didn't get a chance to meet Obama but I got be at Lincoln Memorial.  It was very overwhelming to be there standing at Lincoln's feet and his Inaugural Address was 'strong' to it's own words and some parts were inspiring. I especially like this part,"Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully."

Besides Lincoln Memorial, I made a trip to New York and yes, went to visit Ground Zero.  It felt  surreal to be there.  There was this sad feeling knowing innocent lives were lost, not just Americans but other nationalities too.  I'm sure there's so much political reasons and 'why's' it happened but no unjustified death of innocent lives, regardless of race or country is ever worth killing for in the vanity of any war.  

In any case, I took the Gray Line bus and toured around Manhattan.  There was much to see but little time to do it.  But if you're ever in New York, and you need to stay somewhere, try the Lucerne Hotel on 79th Street, Amsterdam Ave and for a hearty meal, try the Manhattan Diner on 78th Street....plus if you're a die-hard yoga fan, there's Pure Yoga studio on the same street as the diner.  But I advise you to do yoga first then eat later.  Seriously!  Plus if you like museums, the Natural History Museum is a good one to visit especially if you have kids.  Go to the History of South Americans on the 2nd Floor.  Pretty amazing and interesting stuffs!!!!!!!! No worries about having to find restaurants to eat, plenty wherever you go in NY and there always seem to be a Starbucks nearly every 10 minutes of your walk in Manhattan.

But be weary of this when you're in NY, if you need to hail a cab, just step 3 to 4 feet away from the curb and make sure you stick your arm out where the cabbies can see you.  Also, if the middle part of the rooftop is lit, then the cab might be available.  If it isn't lit or it's completely lit, the cabbie might be off duty.  Keep in mind that you also have to tip taxi drivers in NY esp. or you might get a right told off for being a rotten passenger.  Seriously.  Nearly everywhere you go, you tip for their services.  You do feel at first it's something you're 'made' to do and it's not something you normally do if you're not happy with the services.  However, wages for service personnel are pretty low, so they do depend on tips for their livelihood.  I did feel that New Yorkers were a little wee bit rude when you converse with them, but if you ain't happy with their service, don't be a stingje, just give the tip (it's part of the norm and ways) and then on your way out, maybe just mentioned the waitor's 'event' to management. 

But how cute is this?...I love where I stayed in NY in Lucerne hotel cause it was pretty much in a residential area and you could imagine Carrie (SATC) with her mates about.  And Central Park isn't too far away from the hotel.  Talking about Central Park, I made a visit to NBC store and it was quite fun to see FRIENDS tees with Central Perk written across it.  And can you believe this, if you like HOUSE, NBC were selling scrubs as well.  :P  How weird was that?!!

All in all, I'm glad I had a chance to be here with my family.  It's given me a chance to focus back what I need to do, not just for myself but others too.  I think I'll definitely come back to the States again and maybe next time I'll be able to make a trip to California and perhaps Boston?