Some observations from my trip to the US, that made
me feel all's not paradise in one of the leading nations of the
world. Fear is one of the things that struck me repeatedly. I saw
and heard many indicators of a certain 'fear' in the culture -
have labeled so, for want of a better term. Maybe it is protection, but
perceived it more as people operating from fear. A few things that
Is this sense of protection then another form of power yielding fear? Is it not crippling
individual freedom and liberty in a country that prides itself on that? Does it make you think in black and white, and
miss shades of grey? Does it kill humanity in some ways?
- the security checks at airports - while they make you remove your
outer clothes and shoes (which is a real pain as you're always wearing
so much because of the weather), they don't really detect lighters or
matchboxes in your hand baggage
- oh those Non-Disclosure Agreements you have to sign, even if you just
step into an office. It's like saying "either you're with us - or
against us". Hmmmm.
- ID's - the need to show some ID everywhere - the thing is for the
most part, it isn't even really looked at - I have documents on my
maiden name and my married name, and often I caught myself showing an
ID on my married name when the booking or credit card I was using was
on my maiden name. Noone even blinked.
- I was talking to some people at PopTech about how we worked on
disaster relief efforts on the internet, and several comments
made me think of fear again. I was asked by a few people, do you
have liability insurance, aren't you afraid you would be sued ?
This really stunned me. My response - who would anyone sue -
these are blogs/wikis/virtual phone banks not owned by anyone, there is no
organisation, the people who have worked on it live in
several countries across the world. And why would anyone sue us?
- There were some roadworks while we were driving to New York city
from Camden Maine, and they had amazing visible signs, and signals that
indicated which stream of traffic should pass when. In
addition, they had people there manually holding up signs of stop
and go. I wondered aloud why it was necessary to have the people there,
as the road signs were so good. I was told, its because if
anything untoward happens to any car or driver, the company doing the
roadworks could be sued big time, so to make doubly sure it didn't
happen, they had people manning the signs as well.
- Again, I heard people say things like there were people in New
Orleans who didnt really help people who were in trouble in New Orleans
- someone told me of how he knows a person who didn't reach out to
rescue someone who was in the flood - because he was too scared that if
in the process, he damaged some body part of that person, he could be
The other thing
that struck me several times on this trip, is that it's terribly hard
work living in the US - buying groceries, doing laundry, taking
out the garbage, running to the store for every little thing. In
India we (disclaimer - am fortunate to be one of the priviledged
here) are so spoiled ... then I have to deal with doorbells all day :)And gosh I never walk as much as I did there -
distances are huge, the hotel in Seattle where we were was far from
any 'life' and we had to walk a lot to get to a store or to
a restaurant. Even when you drive there, just getting to your
rental car is hard work. In India I wouldn't think twice about
getting into a rickshaw or a cab right as you exit an airport and
saying take me home.