It was the year 2002. Days after I landed in US for my job. My friend took me for lunch to a nearby Subway restaurant. Hey! It is one of the few places where you can have a stomach full veggie food for less than $5. There was a long queue in the restaurant. After a 5 minutes wait in the queue, my turn came. I had asked my friend about what to order. So, I just started firing "I want a foot long Veggie Patty". The guy in the shop asked "What bread Sir?" Oh my God! I wasn't prepared for this question. I looked at my friend who took me to Subway. My friend asked "Do you want Wheat bread or Italian?". "Wheat" sounded to be healthy. So, I told "Wheat". Now, the guy in the shop asked "Sir! What do you want on it?" Common, not again! I looked at the counter in which they had kept the sandwich ingredients. There are atleast 15 different items that I can choose from. First of all, I don't know "What some of the ingredients" are. Second of all, I don't know the "English" name for some of them. Again, I looked at my friend. He told to the guy in the shop "He eats everything. Put everything on it!". Oh, what a relief!
We moved to the billing counter. The guy in the counter greeted us with a "Namaste!". He asked "Do you want a drink? The combo comes with drink and chips. Do you want a combo Sir?" I decided to have a combo, because I get more for the price. Also, I liked the bubbling fresh drink & hot chips. When I had my first bite of the sandwich, I was disappointed. It was not tasty at all. Moreover, the wheat bread was very hard to chew. I didn't want to "waste" the sandwich. So, I managed to eat it in full. The drink & chips really were necessary for me to complete the foot long sandwich.
Fast forward, 6 years from then. During my last visit to the same Subway shop, I ordered a Veggie Delite. The guy in the shop asked "What bread Sir?". I told him "Italian". The guy asked "Sir! What do you want on it?" I told him "Onion, Jalapeno, Black olives, tomato, no ranch dressing, no Cheese ...". I exactly told him what I want on it. I moved to the billing counter and skipped the offer for the drink & chips (Well, drink contains carbs & chips contains fat!). I just took a glass of water. I relished my foot long sandwich. It tasted sooo... good (Well, being a Vegan provides you very less options to eat. So, you have to be happy with what you get ! :)).
What difference did my stay in US for 6 years make?
- I don't go to Subway because the sandwich is cheap. I go to Subway because it is a healthy choice.
- I watch for calories & fat in the food that I eat. I'm ready to skip (actually, sacrifice) even my favorite drink & chips
- I love cold sandwiches (got used to its taste!)
- I now understand what ingredients go into a Sandwich. I can name them in English :)
- If someone asks me a tough question like "What do you want", I'm conditioned to ask "What are the options that I have" (instead of just staring at them, spell bound).
Returning to India
Stages of Immigrant Life in USA