?Fifty-four cents,? the girl at the McDonald'scash register said.
Knowing that the company gives 50 per cent discount on coffee to the seniors, I asked, ?How come, but the rate is 99 cents (for small size, about 200 ml.)??
?You got a senior discount!? she said.
?How do you know that I am a senior?? I said a bit teasingly.
Suddenly, the girl was apologetic for calling a senior, senior! The US is a land of the young in age, heart and spirits!
Gently, I took my cup, added cream and sugar, and looked for a seat. In a restaurant or any public place, I am particular about my seat. I refuse to be ushered in to a arbitrary seat. A seat is my place to reflect and think. I care as much for my butts as for my mind. While walking around, I noted that everyone was a senior on a Thursday morning!
The seniors were in singles and couples, taking their breakfast while reading books, filling out crossword puzzles as mental calisthenics or discussing. It amused me. This franchise is miles away from any highway or freeway. Being situated on a main arterial road through a residential suburb, it seemed to be a popular meeting place for the neighbourhood seniors. I too, on my morning walking loop, decided to stop for coffee with my power candy bar carried in a pocket.
My thoughts flew to the seniors from India in the US. Never have I seen them in groups. In big cities, Indian seniors are very isolated in their homes when their working sons and daughters-in-law are gone out. Indian languages are barriers in socialisation as most don'thave speaking skills in English. The Hindu temples that are financially endowed open up the temple premises for the senior groups. The Sikh gurudwaras lead in this respect. The only successful Indian senior group started in San Francisco area is Chhaju ka Chabara. Its model has been just started in Washington dc area.
The first wave of seniors (retirees) from India came to the US in the mid 1980s when the first generation of Indian professionals sponsored their parents and siblings. Its influx accelerated when immigration tightened on the sibling category in the 1990s. Consequently, first the elderly parents were sponsored, and then the parents sponsored their adult children. However, the first generation of Indians coming in the 1960s, has yet to retire! In the US, retirement is based upon performance, not upon age. Quite a few of my friends are actively employed beyond even when they are 70.
A notebook or a diary is always handy to ground my flying thoughts. I also took time to read a local paper. Its copies are placed for customers to read while sipping. It was a delightful feeling. A few years ago, McDonald'spaid a couple of million dollars in compensation to a senior citizen who burnt her thighs by spilling her coffee accidentally. Her charge was that the coffee temperature was too high! It can happen only in this great land, called the USA. I went up to the girl, thanked her and smilingly walked out.