What I miss of USA

I miss Panera Bread. I miss sitting on a particular seat in the university/N. Tryon Panera Bread, looking out of the glass wall during sunset or night, at the cars passing by, the sky and the trees.


I miss the wide open expanse. Often, too wide for practical convenience, but beautiful for the soul.

I miss sitting outside my home watching children play. Going to the mailbox and seeing teenagers hang-out out there. I used to live in a Black and Spanish neighborhood, so there were only Black children and a few Spanish ones. And as I write this, aside of all the missing, I am feeling the joyous freedom of using the matter-of-fact-no-racism-intended “Black”, rather than the pretentious “African-American”. I can do that because I am not in the US now. I was and am very glad that I lived in that neighborhood, in the midst of that life.

I miss being able to sit in that neighborhood, amongst trees. Tall straight trees – not scarce and not too close together.

I miss going for walks to Reedy Creek Park (in Charlotte), Willow Creek Park (in Iowa). I miss the park (Sue’s Garden) in the university campus.

I miss people smiling at each other, eyes connecting for a moment, as they walk past each other, at normal public places – grocery store and such like.

I miss the ubiquitous “Have a nice day” greeting. It used to irritate me quite a lot initially when things were not going well with me. Later I started genuinely liking it very much (even if things were not going well with me) and I would mostly say it in a very genuine manner. Not in a robotic programmed manner. I miss having the opportunity to say it now.


I miss being able to talk to everyone in English, even the apartment maintenance guy or the window cleaner near Harris Teeter, or anybody else. This does not mean that I did not miss talking in Hindi and Bengali when I was there. I did. But there is mentally something very leveling and satisfying about being able to talk to everyone in my primary language of education and thought, which in India is still somewhat of an economic divide.

I miss blackberries. Luscious natural instant energy. I miss wearing raspberries like caps on my fingers and marveling at their texture. I miss kale. I miss the chicken salads of Panera Bread.

I miss Michael’s and the art supply stores.


I cherish the image of the constant change of colors – different flowers blooming at every stage of spring and summer, the riot of fall colors, the deep silent winters.

I miss the public libraries and the children’s books with its beautiful beautiful illustrations.

I miss older friends who were nearer and newer friends who are now far.

A beautiful land and people that I am glad I experienced…



  1. It’s been 11 long years since I got back from the US. Like you, I used to live in a Black dominated community – heck, even the city had ‘Black’ in it. Blackwood, Camden County, NJ. I miss many of the above you have written about. I also miss smiles, the nods and the, “How you doin’?” you exchange with a complete stranger on the street. You needn’t know them from Adam, they needn’t know you. Yet the smile and the friendliness makes you feel so ‘wanted’. I miss the courtesy people extend to you – be it opening the door for you, or thanking you if you opened the door for them. Even if you’re driving, the courtesy the other driver would extend to you, allowing you to go ahead. I miss the long, rambling drives in Fall along the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside or on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crisp air, making you want to draw deep breaths. Yes, there’s a lot about the country to miss.

  2. As the saying goes “Bloom where you are planted!” – I am sure you will find enriching and fulfilling experiences in India as well.


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