I set my foot in North America when I landed in Vancouver, Canada. I stayed there for about 3 weeks. My first impression of Canada was a relaxed country with lots of open spaces and few people. I got out of the airport and even before I could see few locals, I saw all the Desi taxi drivers. I boarded a taxi and we were off to downtown. Soon I was in a conversation with the Desi driver. First of all, he was now a Canadian citizen, he got rid of his Indian passport 5 years ago (that's a very sensible thing to do given the number of visas required for Indians!). "Ab koi airport par sawaal nahi poochta" was his candid admission. Fair enough!
First experience with a local was with the hotel receptionist who taught me a few lessons of hard core selling. He tried to sell an upgrade to his best, but then he could not get over my strong Desi "never say yes" attitude, and I got rewarded for it too. He gave me a top floor room without any extra charges. I ran to the nearest shopping mall to buy some clothes for next day's meeting. Why? Didn't I tell you that Lufthansa forgot my baggage at Frankfurt! It was so good to see some shops open on Sunday after a long time. Europe really needs to learn customer focus.
First day at work was a complete disaster with meetings on technical details of mining. I did not know even a single detail and was trying to write notes to look intelligent. By 4 PM, things got worse as I was struck by jet lag. That night's dinner with the client was the longest one ever for me.....
People in Canada are amazingly lifestyle oriented. Work hours start usually early, more important reason being avoiding early morning traffic. People usually commute 1-2 hours daily. But by 5, everybody was gone! Simply amazing! I met a guy who used to run 10 kms daily during lunch hours. And he was not alone. There were several groups of 10-20 running during afternoon hours in Vancouver.
Meetings after meetings, and week was over (anyways you live for weekends in a job). Finally on Saturday morning, I got to enjoy the view from my room. It was fascinating with mountains (peaks were still snow clad), port and the river. With sun coming out, it was the right time for a stroll. So like a true tourist, I picked up a map and off I went.