Whenever you are standing in line at any place, remember to keep enough distance between you and the person standing in front of you, else they might get offended. Do not stand too close.
Also, whenever you go to places like bank or ATM, when a person before you is handling cash(standing near teller or ATM), do not go too near. Stand quite away from it. Whenever teller is done with previous customer, he/she will call the next person in line. At that time, you can go there.
If you are vegetarian, just like me, you should be careful while ordering food at the restaurant. In addition to Vegetarian, you should say 'No Meat'. Don't say 'Without Meat'.
Many people from India may not know but there is another category similar to Vegetarian and that is Vegan. Vegan do not even take dairy products like cheese, milk etc.
Hence, some servers at restaurants may not be sure whether you are vegetarian or vegan. They may ask about it. At that time, you can say dairy is OK. That means you can have cheese, milk, honey or items made of them.
At most restaurants, whenever water is served, by default, glass is full of ice and water is poured in remaining area of glass.
For people like me who has hot/cold sensitive teeth, or generally many people in India are not accustomed to drink water with so much ice in it.
If you want water that has no ice, just say 'No Ice' and don't say 'Without Ice' as it can easily be mistaken as 'With Ice'
At most restaurants, it is customary to tip the server. When you get the check(what is called bill in India), that check has got the suggested tip amounts such as 10%, 15%, 20% etc. If you give about 10%, it should be OK.
Many restaurants serve buffet for lunch. You can eat as much as you can for fixed price. However, for cleanliness and hygeine, you should take new plate every time you get food. You should leave dirty plate on your table and someone will come periodically to collect them.
Also, when you go to dine-in restaurant, you should not immediately occupy the empty seat/table yourself. You should wait near the waiting sign and someone will help seat at the right place depending upon number of people you have in your group. Some restaurants have different sitting sections for smoking and non-smoking persons.
At Indian Restaurants, you can either order 'Thali' or 'A La Carte'. Usually 'A La Carte' is individual vegetable dish with some accessory dishes like rice. In 'Thali', there may be South Indian Thali or North Indian Thali depending upon the place you visit.
At restaurants, you don't get a bowl of hot water with lemon in it to clean your hands. Instead you get paper napkins to clean your hands. In some restaurants, you get cloth napking to clean your hands.
However, if you would still like to wash your hands with water, you can go to restroom (toilet) and wash them.
While you are driving your car, never throw any garbage out of your car onto the road. You would be fined for littering and that fine may be as high as $1000.
I know of an incident where a family had recently arrived in US from India. They had small baby. While in car, baby had to do potty. Mother cleaned potty and threw it outside the window. Incidently, police car was coming just behind their car and potty was all over the police car! They were stopped and police officer was very angry. Luckily, police officer figured out that these people had just recently arrived in US and he was very kind to let them go. But this is an exception, and in most cases, you would be fined.
At many busy road intersections, traffic signals are equipped with video cameras or still cameras.
While in car, if you try to cross the road when the signal is yellow, it may turn red before you reach to other side of the road. As soon as traffic signal turns red and camera senses car at the intersection, it starts clicking pictures. There may be various pictures, one picture with your car and general surroundings, one with just your car, one with just your car license plate. And you would receive the ticket in mail. Usually, there are no traffic violation points associated with this type of ticket. However, you are still expected to pay fine.
Gas stations (called 'Petrol Pumps' in India) in most states are self serviced. You can either pay by credit/debit card at the pump itself or alternatively you can also go into the store and pay cash. There is no one available to pump gas for you.
Exception: In New Jersey, it is illegal to pump gas yourself. There are people at the gas station to fill the gas for you. (One more example that New Jersey is closer to India than most other states.)
At the supermarket grocery stores such as SafeWay, A&P, Market Basket etc. (Stores may be different depending upon your geographic locations), if the cashier asks 'paper or plastic?' That means whether you would like to carry your grocery in paper bags or plastic bags.
Paper bags are used at many places because they are easily recyclable. Plastic bags do not degrade and are more harmful to the earth environment. Also small kids may suffocate due to plastic bags if they happen to wrap it around their face. c
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