Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Land Of Free Refills

As the guy who lives and works in Denmark said the other day, “It’s good to be back in the land of the free refills.” Great line. There are so many things about this country that is unique and interesting. For those who live in this country it is hardly noticed, but for those who are based outside the U.S., it’s always a of bit fun to experience the land of our birth, though not the land of our residency. Here are a few luxuries that I am taking advantage of while stateside.

W/O Bucket - It’s hard to beat a good shower. I’m not talking about the refreshing feeling one has after a good scrubbing, I’m talking about exquisite sensation of standing under running water. In India my daily ablution require that I fill a five-gallon bucket with water, squat and pour water over my head. I must admit that I fill a bit guilty standing in a shower as I wonder how much more water I use under the five speed spigot (regular pressure, pulse, low rinse, etc.), but it’s an extravagance I truly enjoy.

The bonus of a shower goes beyond water pressure but also includes regulated temperature, both of water as well as room temperature. My flat in India has only one pipe running into the washroom and the water supply comes from a large tank that sits atop the flat roof of our three-story building. In the summer, when it’s 115 degrees, it’s best to fill the bucket when it is reasonably cooler. In the winter I have to guess on how long to keep the electric geezer (hot water heater) on. Too long and it’s scalding; too short and I’m taking a lukewarm bath with the air temp hovering in the 40’s. Can it get any better than standing under regulated flow knowing that when I turn off the faucet the bathroom air will be as delightful as the water itself?

Cheap Gas - I know that it’s outrageous to pay $2.50 a gallon for gasoline. I’m old enough to remember when five dollars filled up the tank. I’m also old enough to remember when petrol was four dollars a gallon in Kenya and that same gallon is now over six in India. With the profits Big Oil and the Saudis continue to make, I’m guessing over two dollars is too much to pay at the pump, but filling the tank here is less painful than other parts of the world.

One Stop Shopping - What does one do when they have jetlag and wake up at 2 a.m.? How about going to Wal-Mart? I still find it fascinating that no matter what I need I don’t have to travel all over the city, like on a scavenger hunt, to get things. To think I can get a wood screw without going to a hardware store, or a writing pen that isn’t sold exclusively in a stationary shop, or bread that is available in the same place that I can purchase a tire! And not only can I find these things under one roof but I can have a variety of choices with each item. Amazing.

If life was judged only by price index and convenience it would be hard argue that there is a better place to live than the land of the red, white, blue and dollar green. Like all countries, the U.S. has its good and bad points. But it’s still fun to be in the land of free refills.