Now that we're globalising - it'd be great if we in India adopted some of these (really great) things from the American way of life.
The Public Library: Hollywood devotes a lot more movie footage to the prom than the library, so the rest of the world knows little about this amazing American institution. No matter how small the town it will possess a decent sized public library which residents can use - free of cost. Of course, technically the library is funded by taxes but you don't actually pay each time you borrow a book.
Cut to India, where you find libraries mainly in colleges, and sad ones at that. Some of them still refuse to let you browse through the shelves and choose for yourself. No sir, write the name of the book you want and a haughty looking librarian will go fetch it for you!
The only other kind of library around is the local 'circulating' library stocking Archie Double Digests, Mills & Boon and James Hadley Chase in the name of 'novels'. And even this kind of library is practically extinct now, having upgraded to VCD and DVD rentals.
Penurious kitabi keedas can either try their luck along the footpaths of Fountain and Daryaganj which sell second hand books. Or, shamelessly hang out in Crossword and read as much as you can without buying.
Funda: Yes, there is satellite TV and there is google. But if you want to get through CAT, a love for reading is what will see you through the verbal section. Mugging up word lists and practicing mock CATS is not enough. Take my word on that!
Graduation: A graduation ceremony is that one last and memorable gathering of a group of young people who've lived and learnt so much together. A rite of passage for every American high school and college student.
It's a solemn, formal occassion witnessed with pride by family and friends. Graduation is a landmark and the ritual of cap and gown, class procession and valedictory address makes its feel like one.
In Bharat desh mahaan the 'convocation ceremony' is an utter joke. The university itself churns out so many thousand graduates that it only bothers to invite gold medallists for the ceremony. The rest of us will have to go to some clerk infested office and fetch our degrees - sometime over the course of the year.
It's no coincidence that the only institutions which actually have the tradition of a formal convocation are the IITs and IIMs. Not to say that if all colleges go the cermonial way their degrees or diplomas will suddenly increase in their inherent value. But the feel-good factor of graduation surely will!
Funda: Convication to baad ki baat hai, pehle universities mein standard to hona chahiye! Every young Indian wants a decent education - which accounts for the huge number of MBA and Engineering colleges which have sprung up. But there's no governing body to ensure they provide a minimum acceptable quality and infrsatructure... :(
Compare that to the US where even low ranked colleges are not bad places to study. Which is why we're seeing a huge exodus of Indian students to unheard of institutes in even Australia/ New Zealand.
* Endowments: When rich Americans kick the bucket, they invariably will a good sum to their alma maters, pet charities or research institutions. When rich Indians kick the bucket, their kids get everything. Or, in the absence of a will, fight over everything for the next 20 years.
Americans endow colleges and non profit organisations working for the greater good of society. Indians endow temples and benches in parks. Americans are not shocked to receive letters from their former universities asking to be named as beneficiaries in their wills. Indians are shocked by the very concept of making a will.
Things are changing here, slowly. But we still have way too many park benches and temples, and far too many causes and institutions struggling for funds.
Funda: The 'I take care of you in old age' concept is kind of disappearing, with most parents preferring to remain financially self sufficient - and even live independently - in their post-retirement phase.
Eventually, I do see many socially minded individuals bequeathing a part of their savings to charity. But the bulk of it will still go to the kids - or grandkids. Woh hamari parampara hai...
Garage Sales: The runaway success of ebay.com is no surprise when you note the fact that Americans have always loved buying each others's junk. They simply stuck a 'garage sale' sign and sold away at throwaway prices. Kids sell the toys they've outgrown, grown ups their books and furniture. One man's castaways became another's bargain.
Garage sales are fun, they're sensible, they're a cheaper way of decluttering than hiring a feng shui consultant. But we Indians believe in lovingly preserving stuff that's never going to be used in this lifetime. Just in case.
It's always been a recycle and use culture but now, the old systems can't cope any more. The bai doesn't want that sequinned spaghetti you're bored of, or the barely used baby cot. But, garage sales don't take place in India... maybe because we don't have garages. Maybe a 'Sunday bazaar' in the local park where anyone can set up a stall and sell might be the answer?
Funda: Many stores do accept old stuff - clothes, electronics etc in 'exchange offers'. That's socially acceptable. But we will I'm sure see 'thrift' shops like Oxfam in UK here eventually which will mix charity with the appeal of picking up a bargain.
I just heard of a store called Cypress in Bandra which is encouraging its Page 3 patrons to 'donate' designer clothing from a couple of seasons ago... Remains to be seen whether junta will be OK with buying it.
Sports: Americans watch a lot of sports. And not just on television. They actually turn up at stadiums to cheer their baseball and football and ice hockey teams. Promising atheletes are spotted young and groomed in high school teams. Star performers get scholarships to prestigious universities and can dream of making a pro-sports career.
The situation in India? A passion for sports is very extinguished by practical reality. One must be extremely foolhardy - and extremely brave - to dream of a career even in our no 1 sport. That's because anything other than national level cricket draws either viewers nor sponsors.
Who cares if Maharashtra beats Punjab in Ranji Trophy? It's just lack of imagination that prevents India from having its own brand of heavily promoted and fan-supported leagues in different sports. If LA can have its Lakers and Chicago its Bears, why not the Bangalore Badshahs vs the Peshawar Pashas. Or whatever.
Sport will then have ots rightful place under the sun. And we will have something better to do on Saturday than waste our money at the local mall or multiplex.
Funda: It's all about getting the marketing mix correct. If you look at sports as a huge potential entertainment business - and invest in it - it will yield returns.
We do have a Premier Hockey League (PHL) which is thinking along these lines but it's turned into a non-event. It hasn't had a fraction of the promotion that channels normally do when launching even a new show. And this is a completely new concept.
Apparently the Hyderabad Sultans defeated Sher-e-Jalandhar to claim the title in the PHL finals but only the hardcore sports fans must have been following the matches. The idea just hasn't fired up the man-on-the-street's imagination.
To sum it up, globalising can mean more than watching the same TV shows (or adaptations thereof) and eating the same burgers as the Americans. We in India - young and old have this habit of feeling 'culturally superior'. Let's instead be open to new ideas and as they say in B school, borrow 'best practices' - wherever they may originate.