The Emerging Trends in USA

P_20141129_035342_HDRI have been coming to America once or twice a year for the last 12 years. I might have visited this country at least 20 times.

My first and foremost concern is always been about food, as I am very picky about it. I do not even try anything other than South Indian or Konkani vegetarian food. Most of the times, conferences would be held in convention centers or in large resort situated long away from the downtown. Hence, reaching to an Indian restaurant would always be a very expensive tough call for me. So I always depend upon heavy breakfast.

The breakfast spread in hotel used to be extremely splashy during the last decade. I was always amused about the abundance and rich quantity in American food. Now it has changed – the quantity has come down. For example, the size of a muffin is one third of what it used to be. And a Nature Valley breakfast bar comes in single piece now, which used to be two-piece pack. No change in prices!

USA SHOULD BE THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, WHERE POOR ARE FAT AND RICH ARE SLIM. This was the decade that fat became the enemy of the state. New York City banned trans fats, and Alabama– second in national obesity rankings – introduced a tax on overweight state workers.

A good news is the increasing number of vegans (vegan food = plant-based diet) in USA- but that’s quite different from what we eat as our diet is predominately carbohydrates.

Another important trend I noticed was the wide acceptance of yoga. Madonna, Gwyneth and other bendy celebrities brought the Hindu practice mainstream. Now almost every Americans at least heard about yoga.

Indians are becoming more visible in USA. For instance, 12 years ago, you may not see a single Indian in the domestic flights especially in mid-US. Now, you can see one or two Indian faces. If you are lucky enough you would across a churidar or sari clad female. I have seen few Indian start-ups spreading their wings to Silicon Valley!

Today, there are 700 Hindu temples in the United States, serving a Hindu population that since 1965 has increased thirtyfold, to about 1.5 million. People have heard about Hinduism now (See my old article “Am I a Hindu” ). Hindus were viewed more positively by younger people than older people here.

But, when you compare to Islam this is nothing. I could see lot of practicing Muslims everywhere. In the hotel I stayed, I talked to the house-keeping boy Salesman, who said there are lot of Muslims in that hotel. The number of Islamic places of worship in the United States soared more than 100% in the past decade. States with the most mosques are New York, California and Texas. Turkey’s Salamis government is constructing a massive $100 million, 15-acre mosque in Lankan, MD.

Going by the current trend, I wouldn’t be surprised if USA becomes an Islamic country in a decade or two. The growth of Islam is stupendous in USA.

However, I came across lot of people who see this trend with fear – they say that when tolerance becomes a one way street, it leads to cultural suicide. They quote researches that over 80% of the mosques in the US teach, preach and advance jihad.

Though as a land of opportunities US still holds its premier position, China is now over shadowing the glamour of US. US electronic companies cannot survive without China. Even Apple’s phone is manufactured in China. During the last decade, the craze of immigrating to USA slowed down, especially among Indian youth. A report from the Institute of International Education published this week has the figures. China continued to be the biggest exporter of students to the United States by far. It had more than 274,000 students stateside, which was a 17% increase from the previous year. India was a distant second but still had more than 102,000 college and university students to America.

It appears that Indian Prime Minister #Narendra Modi had rejuvenated the Indian Diaspora in the United States. It was surprising to see that Modi has fans even among Mallus, despite the fact that the mainstream media in Kerala was always a Modi-fault-finder.

And I am very happy to see free WIFI signs everywhere I went. I have taken a bus ride from Washington to New York and then from NY to Binghamton. The bus has free WIFI. So during the 8 hours bus journey, I never felt disconnected.

However, the E-mails in 2000s are replaced by texting. So it is better learn the shorthand of text messages.

On the flipside, we all know Indians have a un-enviable habit of gulping dirt from America. Most of the Americans are decent and honest. But there is a minor group that freaks out with ugly display of so-called “fashionable life-style”. This is what a section of our the younger generation follows as “modern”. There are lot of goodies in modern trends in US unfortunately we don’t see it. The family values are becoming stronger here where as young Indians seem to enjoy divorces now.

The psychological and social consequences of limitless porn consumption have got to be a slow-moving disaster – this is not confined to US, we can feel it in India too. But the stigma against talking about the negative consequences of pornography is still very strong in both the countries. I hope the public will wake up and talk about porn addiction as a serious thing. The condom vending machines and supply of birth control pills are now common in US schools.

There are lot of things I observed. And I shall try to write about it later….There is going to be snow tonight in Connecticut where we are staying now.

Udaylal Pai

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