Everything is big in America except a few things.
Journalists having pizza in a Washington D.C. pub.
I wanted to have a burger in the McDonald’s. And I did that in Washington D.C. That was fun really. But I realized that the same wasn’t a fashionable thing in the US, at least not among those whom I met in my trip. “Burger at McDonald’s?” everyone would frown at me. “Boy, I never go there and you never go there again.” Poor in America are overweight than richer ones. That’s another irony in the country. Obesity is a huge problem, I had known but seeing very very fat people walking around was quite an experience. You see all kinds of people. As Lara would tell me in New York at the end of my visit, “you shouldn’t be surprised if you hear people talking in 10 different languages here in New York’s train compartment.”
Back to D.C. We were all new to the city and knew very little about the places to dine. We went up to George Town area of the city to have something for dinner. Rhino Bar and Pump house on 3295 M Street, North West turned out to be our destination for the evening. Apart from South Asians, folks from Arabic speaking group were also in the team. We decided to have pizza. (Again there was a surprise. The medium sized pizza turned out to be bigger than the big pizza that we have in Kathmandu. Well, not only in Kathmandu but in all other cities represented in the group. We started sharing the pizzas as we knew it wasn’t possible to finish alone. I will be writing more about this at the end of this article.)
As they waited for pizzas to come, folks started cracking jokes and talking with each other. A black young couple (teen) was seated on the table on the right of my side. I was occasionally throwing glances at them but wasn’t sure what exactly to do.
I was restless. Don’t know why but I was wandering and there not sitting on the table waiting for pizzas to come. I went outside, just to get a glimpse of the evening Georgetown.
A boy was standing at the gate of the pub checking the identity cards of people who wished to enter inside. He was young and didn’t seem like doing the job for long. I decided to talk with the gatekeeper. This was part of my mission to interact with as many people, general Americans, as possible in those three weeks. I wasn’t there to listen to tireless lectures from so called experts on immigration policy, democracy and journalism. I was there to learn how an American on the street thinks and feels.
Pizzas came; I ate and again came back to the boy. We talked for about 15 minutes. He was from Boston, Massachusetts and was working in this bar for the last six months. There were regular customers and he would shake hands with them as they enter inside for food. He talked about the difficulties of student life and his future plans. I told him that I was touring America at the expenses of American taxpayers’ money. He envied my itinerary and whished he could do the same for free.
“I studied journalism in college,” he said as we were about to leave the bar. I was astonished. “I wanted to be journalist but you know it’s very hard to be a reporter here.”
“Waw,” I said. “We have the same DNA in our blood then! You are talking with a journalist for the last 15 minutes.” Now it was his turn to be astonished.
Okay, again back to the pizza. When I it arrived, I was, if I can use the term, shocked to see the size. “I can’t eat all this,” I said. “That’s why they take dollars 10 for this!”
But then everything is big in America. Yes, this is an old statement coming out of America but I am repeating this just to console myself. The Detroit Airport was really big for me. The country was big for me. Five hours of flight in a jet plane and you are still inside the country? Boy, if we fly that long from Nepal, I kept saying myself, we will be in Japan! (After returning from the trip, I took the longest flight in Nepal: from Kathmandu to Dhangadi which took nearly 1 and half hour in a twin otter plane.) But there were some notable exceptions. Yes, Big Mac wasn’t big as I expected that to be.
We went to a McDonald’s and ordered Big Mac. Wasn’t big and exciting but that was okay. Filled the stomach and I got what I wanted to have. I immediately realized that they have their own science of selling and ordering and buying burgers at McDonald’s. I was kind of expert in that science on my third visit to the eatery. I think I went to McDonald’s four times.
Again on exceptionally smaller things. The White House? I though it was bigger than our Singha Durbar, central secretariat office. No, that was small and I was surprised to see a small White House. I asked Maria Elena Price, the girl who took me there, if that was the real White House. And she said it was. Talking about bigger things… well, people are bigger. Even the lemons were bigger. Let’s not talk about roads and buildings.
About having coffee at Star Bucks. I didn’t know about this chain while in Nepal. That was great. Ah… I missed something while talking about pizzas. I ordered a medium pizza and a glass of coke. Actually, the coke was provided for free by the bar. Ice in coke, ice in water… ice everywhere. I was tired of ice as my throat wasn’t really welcoming it. Then I started saying ‘no ice in the water please’ every time I entered inside a bar to have food of any kind.