USA does not play cricket. Of any note, I mean. And, that is why it is a country I have not visited too often.
But, it is a country that has fascinated me for long, and this time, I was going to have a proper look at it—become the analyst. Now, that does not take much effort as analysing is my instinct.
In fact, I think I have lost the ability to see things the way they are, without examining them.
It is a curse, but then, this has also helped me have an interesting career as a 'cricket analyst' after retiring as a player.
So, the US of A was going to be my subject of study, and, once again, I was going to draw conclusions from the small things I would see there.
I have been a fan of the US because of their long track record of excellence in almost everything. If it has produced the greatest geeks in the world, it has also produced some of the greatest athletes in the world.
Geniuses in medicine, IT, education, research and art; so also in sport, and this is not restricted to one or two kinds of sport. Their top position in the medals tally at every Summer Olympics is testimony to that.
Of course, no one is free of faults and America is no different.
But, we have to hand it to them. It is a country that is self made, nothing has been offered to them on a platter, which you could say of some of the other rich countries.
That scene from Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades is still fresh in my mind. When the lead character, an American of Indian origin, looks at villagers resigned to their fate of living with no electricity, he says in anguish, “No, I don't think we [India] are a great country, no not yet, but America is and they have become great by working really hard to better their lives.” This is so true.
But, what is really admirable about America is that despite being the number one country in the world, with pioneers in most spheres of life, they don't relax. They don't rest on their laurels, as they say.
It is in their DNA to do better and improve even if there is no competition, just like how Tendulkar was as a batsman.
And when you see this country from close quarters, you see that trait in all the little things they do.
Walk into a crowded restaurant, and there is one person dedicated to just welcoming guests. A packed place will not deter you here, because that receptionist will be onto you in 10 seconds, trying to find you a seat.
The best restaurants in NYC, will behave like they have just opened their doors and are looking to earn their first dime. That is their general approach to business.
The strong tipping culture in America can be unsettling for outsiders, but you see the sense of it after a while. It really is a 'performance incentive scheme' for their staff. Basic salary is average; but if you serve your customers well, make them happy, you take home a good salary.
Despite being a rich nation, Americans do not seem to have an ego, when they look to make a buck.
I will never forget Barack Obama addressing an audience in India. He was talking to Indians like an eager insurance salesman selling his new policy.
Among other things, the president of USA was in India to sell his country's products and services, too.
There was a small eatery near my hotel in New York that was open 24x7. I guess that's what America is—open for business, 24x7.
Manjrekar, former cricketer, is a commentator.