We've been here for 10 months with no trips home and I am chomping at the bit to get back for Christmas and New Year's Eve (53 DAYS TO GO!). I just wish it wasn't going to be freezing cold...it's one of the main reasons we wanted to move to begin with. Plane tickets are booked, itinerary has been made (sorry New Jersey, you got the short end of the stick this time) and my shopping list is almost complete. We've gotten asked a few times what we miss most about the states, other than family and friends of course, so here it is:
1.) Driving. Some people love sitting on a beach with a Mai Tai, others like taking a fishing rod down to the dock and settling into an afternoon of catch-and-release...I love driving. I miss being able to get into a car by myself, whenever I want, and driving somewhere, or even nowhere in particular if I feel like it. I miss grabbing a coffee, turning up my favorite music, and easing into a long stretch of highway, cruising past the exits and rest stops in my own little mobile sanctuary.
2.) Shopping. America, you really don't know how good you have it. No, seriously. We are bringing our biggest luggage bags and FILLING them when we come home. Branded items are twice as expensive here, clothes never seem to fit well, and even when I find something nice it usually gets destroyed after five washes in the machine, so we're carving out a big fat chunk of time to stimulate the economy while we're home.
3.) The snow. True, I hate winter and the cold, but I do love a good snow storm. All the anticipation, eyeballing the forecasts, toggling between three open windows of predictions on my laptop, watching the bread, milk, and eggs fly off the convenience store shelves, seeing the first flakes, hearing the muffled sounds of cars driving past and the crunch of my feet on the ground...I'm hoping we get a little precip while we're there.
4.) The Beach/Summertime. I spent most of my childhood summers at the beach on Long Beach Island, NJ. This summer, the closest I came to a shoreline was Normandy, and it was definitely not warm enough for a dip. Same goes for Jumeirah Beach in Dubai in September, where it was about 100F at 7am. I won't be making that mistake again, so have decided to return during the late summer so we can enjoy it.
5.) Cooking/Entertaining in general. Love it, miss it like crazy. We've not been entertaining here so much as of yet, but I'm hoping that after we get back we can ramp it up a bit.
6.) Freakin' New York City. Roads built on the grid system, taxis that run their meters, family get togethers, predictable walking patterns, crosswalks, the smell of Nuts 4 Nuts carts, a giant late night slice of pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox on a Sunday morning, long brunches, dinners so good they spill into the next day, Food Emporium (and Citarella's, depending on my level of nostalgia that day), Central Park...etc...
7.) Grocery Stores. I don't have a picture for this, but I really miss the clever merchandising, the variety, the smell, and the predictable layout of American grocery stores. Whole Foods, Wegmans, Trader Joe's, I'm lookin' at you.
8.) Sushi. We have sushi in Pune, in fact there are 2 Japanese restaurants that offer it, but like most things, "it's just not the same"...case in point:
9.) Autumn. We don't have one, and it's actually made my mascara run more than twice. I seriously get misty-eyed whenever I think about it. I think it's PSL withdrawal; I even sent an S.O.S to one of my best friends with a care package request list of all my favorite fall stuff: Wawa Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Pumpkin Pie scented wax melts from Yankee Candle, molasses, etc...can't WAIT to get that shipment!
10.) Dog Parks. We used to love waking up early, grabbing a coffee on a weekend morning and taking Stella to play at one of the many dog parks in NJ. It was a great chance for her to run like a crazy pup, explore off-leash, jump in the water, and play with other dogs. We also got to chat with other dog owners so it was kind of a fun social thing to do. Miss that.
11.) Wawa and roadside convenience stores, in general.
12.) Thanksgiving. See my last Thanksgiving in NJ here!
13.) Blending into a crowd. Being a foreigner here still gathers attention. I'm really looking forward taking a break from having to be hyper-vigilant in public, and watching out for gawkers, stalkers, and ass-grabbers.
14.) Favorite foods: Baby spinach, cheese, wine, oysters, wild caught salmon, pumpkin, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, Jersey peaches and corn, lemons, breakfast sausages, half gallons of Silk Original Unsweetened Almond Milk, Amish-made Maple Yogurt from Reading Terminal Market, Philly cheesesteaks, turkey...
15.) Drinking municipal water straight from the tap.
16.) Not having to wonder if it's ok to flush the toilet paper. In most places here it's ok to flush, but when I see a bin filled with wastepaper in a stall, I always wonder...
17.) Smiling. I've had to put on a pretty gruff face here, and I very rarely smile in public. In my experience, smiling too widely at a stranger (and particularly at a man), is often perceived as forward, and is meant to be reserved only for people with whom I am very familiar, like a friend or a relative.
18.) Diversity and Inclusion. When I think about what I miss in the states, I am reminded that America isn't any one culture, but all cultures co-existing; a true melting pot. I miss KBBQ and karaoke, days at the Russian banya, a bowl of Japanese ramen, the Amish market, shopping in the Italian Market for artisanal meats and cheeses, pho, Chinese New Year celebrations, a soak in an Onsen tub, the Puerto Rican parade in NYC, cart after cart of dim sum on a Sunday morning, Pride events in Phila and NY, a Chinese Hot Pot dinner with friends...I could go on and on!
19.) Philadelphia - my family has had a long run in Philadelphia, c. 1600's, and I miss that city like crazy.
20.) MOVIES!!!!! Before movies come out here, they need to go through review by the Central Board of Film Certification. This means two things: a.) we usually have to wait for movies to be shown in theaters after their US release dates, and b.) the movies which are shown are sometimes censored so some bits are cut out.