Strawberries and Self-improvement

Having lived in the United States of America land for over two and a half years, I was presented with a good amount of opportunities to hobnob with the local populace. I was told that the name of this country in Chinese, when translated into English stands for ‘Lovely person country’ and the friendly, welcoming nature of the fauna here is usually the first thing that bucks up a visitor, who mostly comes to this place to make a name for himself in the corporate world.

Despite the fact that I generally approve of this society, the locals’ obsessions with certain things have always struck me as odd. Large trucks for instance is one of them. A truck for some strange reason is used as a form of personal transportation and I could never workout how it could possibly be a wise choice. A colleague of mine at work once casually made inquiries on what sort of machine I use everyday to haul my corporeal self to work and upon hearing the words Volvo and sedan, he raised his eyebrows by about half and inch and flattened is lips to a degree that is humanly possible and after a few seconds politely told me that is exactly the sort of car he would have given to his daughter and men are supposed to be driving something manly. It is a well accepted theory here, that the size of someone’s car is directly proportional to the size of their gentleman’s gentleman gadget. I was not going to be convinced by that sort of rot. I tried to be more scientific in my research and one day I was counting the number of trucks that I could see on my way to work that actually carried something substantial. I saw a few dozen trucks and only two of them had more than a piece of meat behind the steering wheel. One contained a tramp as he was hauling a caravan and the other a suitcase. A three-ton ugly pile of steel with stupid wheels, powdered by coal with suspension from last century is their idea of utopia in transportation. The reason is, they still feel they are cowboys, just only without silly hats. The natives always display this sort of relentless fascination to be cavemen of sorts and commune with nature in a very primitive way. Unlike in the sophisticated parts of the world, they do not go to shops to fulfil their needs, they take their truck and an axe to go hunting and bring back firewood. The similarity of their lifestyle to that of stone age is remarkable and yet disturbing. It’s the same story with cooking, which is almost always accomplished by shoving some meat onto a fire till it gets covered in coal and smear the mess with some preposterous sauce. Weirdly, even the posh restaurants here do the same thing but they establish their superior status by doing two essential things, asking ‘Do you want cheese with that?’ and putting a strawberry on everything. The idea that cheese and strawberry can improve everything is quite ridiculous.

Another distinct characteristic of a well-bred american man is his sunny optimism. The strawberry inspired concept that anything in the world can be improved is quite moving. The evidence of such phenomena can be easily seen at a book store. I remember seeing a small self-development section in every shop, while I used to buy books in India. A book store here is quite a different thing. There is nothing but Self-development section. I spent a good two hours in a local library searching for recreational reading material as they call it, which I simply call books and I would not see any of it. They had a small six feet wide rack that said ‘Humour’ and it was a pretty rack with pink borders and floral designs and yet not much can be said in the praise of the content. The singular outstanding feature of the shelf was it was devoid of humour of any description. I patiently read many of the titles like ‘100 jokes about sex’, ‘How to be funny?’, ‘Girls Girls Girls’, ‘Are you fuxxxx kiddin?’, ‘WTF Dude’ and many such invigorating topics. I finally decided that the best thing is give the whole collection a miss and wandered off to self-development section that couldn’t be missed as it formed about three-quarters of the whole library. These topics were even more fishy, ‘ten things about life that you did not know’, ‘how to be successful and happy’, ‘Feeling stressed?’ and their taglines were even better, ‘a stress relief program your doctor would have ordered’, ‘we promise kick ass results in nine days’ and words to that effect.

This society favours a kind of lifestyle that I cannot adapt myself to. I have grown up, I like to believe, to become a thinking man with sophisticated taste in literature, food and living. I cannot live in a delusion that a generous portion of grease improves both food and auto-mobiles with equal and positive results. Communing with nature in my opinion does not require me becoming a tramp; I can go to my destination, rent a hotel room and drive around in a small car like civilised people. Strawberry, according to me, just belongs to the desserts menu along with other fruits. Nerves responsible for laughter do not always need to be triggered by anatomical topics, mostly regarding the genitalia. Everyone in the city I live, seems to be fond of the same things; beer, trucks, football, steak and bad jokes. That said, I really like all the friends I made here, because they do not seem care about all these differences we share, like I mentioned in the first paragraph.


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