Talk about culture shock. After Bangladesh Los Angeles seems particularly over the top. I arrive at LA airport in the late morning. The immigration system is down, so the cue is even longer than normal. Makes you wonder what draws so many people here? It takes 1.5 hours of shuffling down the cue with a man continually shouting that we need to inch closer to the next person as the cue is now so long it is outside the ropes. Now there's a job ..
I don't feel too jetlagged and as I am in Santa Monica we go out for a long walk to the promenade (think consumerism) and the ocean (think green and views).
After being in Bangladesh where I barely saw alcohol, it strikes me how many drinks and other inebrients are being stowed away by everyone around me. What strikes me as well is the amount of people who are having conversations on their mobile (oops, cell) phones with the speaker on loud ~ this, I am told, is de rigueur in carrying on one's communications in LALA.
The jetlag hits the next day and I can barely keep my eyes open. My friends are off to a Halloween party ~ another American phenomenon that escapes me ~ in San Diego. I beg off, although I could easily assemble a burqa to double as a costume. Twenty four hours of travel barely behind me, I'm not keen to sit in traffic on the freeway and I want to catch up with some old mates. Turns out it is a wise decision as the party lasts two days ~ half my time in LA.
I enjoy some quality time with my friends and also take myself to a local cinema to see 'Social Network', the story of Facebook, which is all about stealing ideas and greed. Interesting story, but that's just it ~ with 500+ million Facebook users and growing, it wouldn't much matter if every movie-goer were incited to boycott the pervasive site because of its assorted past.
I leave LA thinking there is something terribly wrong with a culture that is inebriated with noise, greed and apathy. Am off to Peru for the second half of my field work.